Santa Barbara is the county's largest city. At first glance, visitors are mesmerized by the stunning backdrop of mountains and sea. Santa Barbara is also famed for its unique architectural beauty. Most of the downtown structures remain loyal to the aesthetic of the 18th and 19th century Spanish Missions. In addition to the beautiful historical buildings, Santa Barbara boasts excellent museums, grand old theaters, lush parks, botanical gardens, and a world-class zoo.
Mild and sunny all year, there is no "off-season" in Santa Barbara. Average temperatures range from 60 to 70 degrees throughout the year with low humidity. In the summer, the cool breezes of the Pacific make Santa Barbara the perfect place to beat the heat. Santa Barbara is a city blessed with beautiful beaches. Perhaps the most popular is the broad, palm-lined strip perpendicular to State Street. It stretches from the creamy sands of East Beach (often hailed as one of the best beaches in the country), to West Beach at the harbor mouth, and Leadbetter Beach beyond.
With its stunning mountain backdrop, wide range of facilities, and easy accessibility, this stretch of coast is a favorite with visitors and locals alike. Sunbathing, swimming, surfing, fishing, kayaking, and volleyball are just some of the activities you can enjoy here. Home to many unique and rare bird species, along with thriving tide pools, Santa Barbara's beaches provide excellent wildlife viewing. The county's coastal areas are great for spotting whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions.
Santa Barbara is home to the University of California, Santa Barbara, a world class institution with five Nobel laureates on its faculty. As of 2010, there are a total of nine Nobel laureates who are associated with UCSB. UCSB is often ranked among the top 10 universities in the country for physics and other sciences. The campus brings a variety of cultural events throughout the year to Santa Barbara. There are currently nearly 22,000 students enrolled in UCSB.
While the Pacific Ocean is a major draw, there are plenty of things to do and see in the Santa Barbara area. To the north, is the Santa Ynez Valley and its many award-winning vineyards. The North County also includes the Danish village of Solvang, known for its windmills and delicious pastries, and Santa Maria, home of the Santa Barbara County Fair and originator of the tri-tip barbecue. While exuding warmth and friendliness, Santa Barbara County offers an outstanding variety of attractions, such as outdoor activities, theatre, dance, art galleries and music performances. With its fascinating history, unique architecture, and extraordinary setting, the city of Santa Barbara alone offers an extensive array of sights to see and things to do: from beaches to missions, museums to mountains, wine country to whale watching, the possibilities are endless.
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