El Camino Cielo or 'Trail to the Sky' is the most beautiful drive in Santa Barbara. Winding through the Santa Ynez Mountains of Los Padres National Forest, the road soars 4,000 feet above the city and provides stunning panoramic vistas and access to hiking trails. Sandstone canyons, towering peaks, chaparral and pine forests combine to create a diverse ecosystem.
Knapp's Castle is an abandoned mansion in the Santa Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara. A trail just under one mile out and back takes you to the ruins and a stunning vista point overlooking Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez Valley. George Owen Knapp, founded of Union Carbide, created the mansion for his residence in 1916. Famous Opera Singer Lotte Lehmann moved here in 1940, but the castle was destroyed by fire only 5 weeks later.
Gaviota State Park or 'Seagull' in Spanish is an impressive park on the Santa Barbara Coast. Hiking trails wind through sculpted canyons of the Santa Ynez Mountains covered in Spring wildflowers. Sandy beaches lie next to sea stacks to create an unforgettable rocky coastline that drops from mountain to sea. An historic railroad trestle soars above Gaviota Creek at 811 feet. It opened in 1901 and became a regular service route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Santa Barbara Shores County Park preserves what the wild coast here has looked like for thousands of years. Easy trails wind to sandy beach with views of the Channel Islands while the Santa Ynez Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop. The park is also home to the Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove each winter from November to February where thousands of butterflies come to roost. The highest amount ever recorded was 48,000!
OstrichLand USA is a must stop for any visit to the Danish Village of Solvang. Where else can you feed ostriches and emus and watch them live alongside beautiful rollings hills? Ostriches are the largest bird species and can run up to 43 mph making them one of the fastest animals on Earth.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is a beautiful zoo on America's Riviera Coast. With more than 500 animals, it is one of the best small zoo's in the country and has been operating since 1963. The zoo is also known as one of the most beautiful zoos with its sweeping views of Santa Barbara, the ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains as its backdrop. Botanical gardens landscape the exhibits and trails making for a wonderful visit.
Emma Wood State Beach named after Emma Catherine Wood is a secluded beach in Ventura on the Central Coast. Sitting at the mouth of the Ventura River, the Santa Ynez Mountains beautifully frame the beach and estuary in the background. Whether coming for relaxation or a stroll, this stunning beach with views of the Channel Islands will delight.
Santa Barbara Harbor on the waterfront has been the perfect afternoon stroll for more than a century. Row after row of beautiful boats frame the rolling Santa Ynez Mountains in the background making this the perfect land-meets-ocean coastline.
Nojoqui Falls is a beautiful waterfall in the Santa Ynez Mountains of Santa Barbara. Dropping 100 feet, the water flows over a sandstone wall covered in a wonderland of maidenhair ferns. Nojoqui Falls, pronounced 'no-ho-wee', is a hidden gem that not many people take the time to visit. *Unfortunately the trail to the falls is currently still closed from a December 2014 landslide, while the park remains open
La Cumbre Peak at 3,997 feet high soars above the Santa Barbara Skyline in the Santa Ynez Mountains. Miles and miles of mountain and ocean views can be seen from this beautiful peak which can be accessed by driving up East Camino Cielo. Boulders, sandstone and pine trees decorate the slopes.