Santa Barbara has an enviable position on the California coastline, being located between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Coast. With its Mediterranean climate, it’s no wonder this scenic city is known as the American Riviera. Though Native Americans had lived here for thousands of years, Spanish explorer Jose Cabrillo is generally credited with discovering Santa Barbara in 1542. Some 200 years later, Franciscan monks from Spain would establish a mission here; it is a top tourist draw today. The town hosts various celebrations throughout the year, including a film festival and Fiesta, which focuses on its Spanish heritage. Local beaches are popular with both sunbathers and surfers; just off shore are Channel islands National Park and Channel islands Marine Sanctuary.
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