Santa Barbara, California -- located about two hours north of Los Angeles -- has long been favored by travelers looking for a relaxing coastal destination away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Santa Barbara, nicknamed the "American Riviera" for its elegance and slow-paced living, offers beachfront lodging, renowned wineries, high-end shopping on State Street and a host of five-star restaurants.
Bacara Resort & Spa
The Bacara Resort & Spa is located right on the beach in a secluded area of northern Santa Barbara. The Bacara -- decorated in a rustic Spanish style -- has it all, from an award-winning golf course to a 42,000-square-feet spa. Guests can eat at one of three signature restaurants: Miró, which sits on top of a bluff overlooking the ocean and serves Basque-Catalonian fare; the Bistro, which serves Mediterranean food; and the Spa Cafe, which serves lighter, all-organic fare. While staying in one of the hotel's 311 rooms and 49 luxury suites, visitors will enjoy wood-burning fireplaces, private balconies and 24-hour room service.
Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort
Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort is located on East Cabrillo Street, just down the street from Santa Barbara's main dining and shopping thoroughfare on State Street. This resort -- owned by the family of the late Fess Parker, a popular 1950s actor -- features a beautiful heated outdoor pool and poolside room service, three outdoor tennis courts, a full-service spa and salon as well as bike rentals. On-site dining options include Rodney's Steakhouse, Cafe Los Arcos, and the Terraza del Mar Pool BBQ, in addition to Barra Los Arcos, a fully stocked bar. The Fess Parker faces the beach, and guests are only a stroll away from dipping their toes in the Pacific Ocean.
Four Seasons Resort Santa Barbara (The Biltmore)
The Biltmore, erected in the Spanish colonial style, features 207 guests rooms in addition to 12 cozy, private cottages. The hotel resort, with its vaulted ceilings and breathtaking views of the Pacific, has a heated, jungle-themed outdoor pool, three lighted tennis courts and a spa that uses locally grown ingredients. Guests often visit this resort to play the Biltmore's Sandpiper Golf Course, which was rated by "Golf Digest" as one of the best in the nation and has hosted several PGA golf tournaments. Guests who dine at the Biltmore can choose from Bella Vista, an Italian restaurant with a California edge; Tydes, a beachside joint serving Mediterranean food; and Coral Cafe and Bar, featuring casual American fare by the pool.
Hotel Mar Monte
Hotel Mar Monte, currently owned by Hyatt, was built right on the shores of the Pacific in 1931. The AAA three-diamond hotel has 173 spacious guest rooms decorated with original artwork and featuring a full bath, complimentary robes and large flat-screen television sets. The hotel is also home to Spa Mar Monte, a full-service spa; a fitness center; and a heated outdoor pool. The hotel's in-house Bistro 1111 serves American fare with a Californian twist, and is right next door to the Bistro 1111 lounge, a cocktail bar that also serves light meals.
Harbor View Inn
Harbor View Inn is a family-friendly resort hotel built right next to the historic Stearn's Wharf at the bottom of State Street. The AAA four-diamond hotel has 102 large rooms and 13 suites, and every room includes a mini-bar and a private patio or balcony. Guests seeking relaxation and pampering will want to check out Spa Beaumontia, named after the lush flowering vines found all over the hotel property. Harbor View Inn also is home to a large outdoor pool and fitness center, as well as Eladio's Restaurant & Bar, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- mission of santa-barbara image by Ary from Fotolia.com