Santa Barbara County

Much of Santa Barbara County’s coast faces south, backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains, which run east-west. The coastal cities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Goleta lie on a wide coastal plain between the mountains and the sea. The waters are warmer here than along other parts of the coast, contributing to an abundance and diversity of marine life.

The mild climate makes this region ideal for sunbathing, picnicking, and exploring at such parks as Carpinteria and El Capitán State Beaches. Birdwatchers in particular will want to visit the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park and Andree Clark Bird Refuge where herons, ducks, and many other types of shorebirds can be seen. The city of Santa Barbara’s oceanfront Chase Palm Park has fountains, a lagoon with waterfall, and a carousel, while at Santa Barbara Harbor you can take a whale-watching cruise or visit the Maritime Museum. Past Gaviota, where Highway 101 turns north again, much of the county’s coastline is rugged and undeveloped, and Vandenberg Air Force Base allows only limited access along its 35-mile stretch of coast.

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