Santa Barbara & San Diego
Over the last couple of days I have been on a mini road trip down the coast of California in order to attend a Cousin's wedding in San Diego. Despite the fact that I've lived in Northern California for 22 years, I'd never been to Santa Barbara or San Diego so the wedding seemed like the perfect opportunity to drive down the coast. I spent Wednesday and Thursday in Santa Barbara and yesterday in San Diego. I'm back in Santa Barbara now and I'll drive back North tomorrow after the World Cup Final.
All I can say is wow... these are definitely two incredible places and I can't believe that I waited this long to check them out. I am a huge fan of Palo Alto but I have to admit that State Street in downtown Santa Barbara is more beautiful than University Ave. Santa Barbara has great beaches, nice restaurants, incredible roads for cycling (Team Discovery is headquartered close by in Solvang) and a climate that is perfectly warm without being too hot. While Santa Barbara is a very modern city it doesn't feel overcrowded or built up and the Spanish style buildings give the entire town a feeling of history. I spent less time in the San Diego area but La Jolla was equally spectacular.
I suspect that most people visiting California spend the majority of their time in either San Francisco or Los Angeles but for anyone seeking a California beach vacation should definitely consider Santa Barbara or San Diego as their primary destination.