Stephen Simpson

Take a Trip to the Best Coast

Nature gifted this state with miles of picturesque coastline, crashing waves, windswept beaches, the works! Not to mention the dramatic mountain peaks, swaths of redwood forests, expanses of desert and some of America's most exciting and innovative cities.

Get Inspired

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite takes approximately five to six hours driving north from Los Angeles. Upon arrival, hiking to Inspiration Point is highly recommended for outdoor photography. 960 1280

Beth Rucker  

Yosemite's Allure

Yosemite's Allure

"No temple made with human hands can compare with Yosemite," wrote John Muir, naturalist and early advocate for the creation of the park. 960 1280

Patricia Klarner  

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is the park’s tallest waterfall as well as the highest in North America. 960 1280

Patricia Klarner  

Half Dome

Half Dome

Rising 5,000 feet above the Yosemite Valley, Half Dome is perhaps the park’s most recognized landmark. Its summit is on the bucket list for most adventurous hikers and experienced rock climbers. 960 1280

Beth Rucker  

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Roughly seven hours east of Los Angeles, travelers flock to Grand Canyon to see one of our nation’s most breath-taking natural wonders.  960 1280

John Mulloy  

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Though stark and rugged, the portion of Joshua Tree in the Colorado Desert is speckled with alluring gardens of flowering ocotillo and cholla cactus. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Skull Rock

Skull Rock

Right off Joshua Tree’s main road, visitors can see the eerie yet spectacular human skull shaped rock, aptly named Skull Rock. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Straddling California and Nevada, Death Valley is a land of extremes. This below-sea-level basin is the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere as well as the hottest and driest of our nation’s national parks. 960 1280

David Parsons  

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park

This park is made up of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of California in the Pacific Ocean. Recreation options for island visitors include backpacking, camping, scuba diving, spear fishing and kayaking through the islands' sea caves. 960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Offshore Diversity

Offshore Diversity

With more than 2,000 different species of plants and animals, the Channel Islands are filled with a spectacular array of wildlife. Visitors are attracted in winter and spring by migrating gray whales and blooming wildflowers. In season, island-goers can go whale watching on the short ferry ride from the mainland.  960 1280

Kelly Smith Trimble  

Where to Stay

Where to Stay

Described as encompassing Spanish Colonial warmth, old Hollywood glamour and new California dreaming, the Bacara Resort & Spa is the height of luxury for a weekend in Santa Barbara. Every one of the 311 rooms and 49 specialty suites are intimate and relaxing, featuring their own private patio or balcony.

The resort resembles an intimate Mediterranean village, embracing 78 beachfront acres between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains. The understated elegance is present in every room and at the resort's spa and 3 restaurants.

Another great option is The Simpson House Inn, an 1874 historic landmark decorated to Victorian perfection. French doors open to manicured gardens, and quaint cottages dot the beautiful grounds. While the rooms have everything your heart could possibly desire, the Inn's most impressive features are its extras: the gourmet Mediterranean hors d'oeuvres and Santa Barbara wines served each afternoon, the enormous video library and the full gourmet breakfast (delivered on delicate china).

Take a tour of The Simpson House Inn's gardens, and see why guests fall in love with this unique Santa Barbara bed and breakfast.

960 1280

Jim Bartsch  

Budget Stay

Budget Stay

If you're looking to experience Santa Barbara's splendor, but don't want to break the bank, book a room at the Days Inn. The hotel is only a block from Yacht Harbor and walking distance from some great dining options. Walk to Brophy Bros. Clam Bar & Restaurant and The Brewhouse, but better yet, walk directly across the street to the beach. 960 1280

Mark Weber  

Where to Eat and Drink

Where to Eat and Drink

The Brewhouse is a quintessential California hangout: outdoor dining, views of the water, dinner and drink specials, fresh music and a relaxed vibe. And to state the obvious, great beer brewed on the premises is served daily; try the dark Harry Porter or the Condor Pilsner.

Brophy Bros., overlooking the harbor, is a locals' favorite and home to fresh California cuisine. Two things not to be missed at Brophy's are the clam chowder and the opportunity to make new friends at the long communal table. The fresh-fish menu changes daily, the mark of a great seafood restaurant.

One of Santa Barbara's most romantic restaurants is Stella Mare's. The traditional French cuisine is served for brunch, lunch and dinner, complemented by French and American wines. Overlooking the Bird Refuge, a 42-acre saltwater wildlife refuge, the beautiful old house and greenhouse are the perfect place to bring a loved one while staying in Santa Barbara.

For the best authentic tacos in Santa Barbara, head to this humble street-corner shack. Endorsed by Julia Child, you won't mind waiting on line for fresh ingredients that are spiced to perfection. Always check the daily specials first and ask for extra tortillas no matter what you decide to order.

960 1280

Brophy Bros Clamhouse  

What to See: Old Mission Santa Barbara

What to See: Old Mission Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Mission was founded on December 4, 1786, the tenth of 21 California missions founded by the Spanish Franciscans. From its hilltop lookout, you can view Santa Barbara below and the Channel Islands beyond. Tour the beautiful church, historic cemetery and mausoleum, and 10 acres of gorgeously landscaped gardens from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Self-guided tour brochures are also available at the Mission's gift shop in 8 different languages. 960 1280

Mark Weber  

What to Do: Santa Barbara Zoo

What to Do: Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a perfect afternoon activity. All 700 animals can be seen within 30 minutes at this pint-sized park, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Christmas. Enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the Pacific after your visit with the animals.
960 1280

Ron Berg / Visit Santa Barbara  

Ganna Walska Lotusland

Ganna Walska Lotusland

Another picturesque setting for a beautiful afternoon in Santa Barbara is the Ganna Walska Lotusland, a lavishly landscaped 37-acre estate brimming with exotic flora and romantic garden paths. Named after its late owner, the eccentric Madame Walska, the garden contains priceless rare and beautiful specimens acquired during the lax import regulations of the 1940s. Wander the ethereal walkways and feel as though you've entered another time, but advanced reservations are required to tour these grounds. 960 1280

Mark Weber  

After Dark

After Dark

After watching a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean, head to any number of places for nighttime fun. The Boathouse at Hendry's Beach is a relaxed atmosphere perfect for watching the sunset and then sipping cocktails around the fire pit.

For a lounge atmosphere with great dancing, head to Eos Lounge located near State Street. Combining the vibes of casual elegance, contemporary cocktail lounge and nightclub, Eos is a great place to experience the culture and style of Santa Barbara.

To combine your dinner with some great theater, head to The Lobero whose calendar of events features performances like the Australian Chamber Orchestra, The Capital Steps, Damn Yankees and an evening with Lily Tomlin. It's conveniently located in downtown Santa Barbara and is the perfect Friday night activity.

960 1280

steeven petitteville  

Travel Channel Insider's Tip

Travel Channel Insider's Tip

Santa Barbara's wine country is still largely undiscovered, however it's quickly garnering international respect. Travel the vineyards located about 30 minutes from Santa Barbara for sophisticated and spectacular wines. The best part? Chances are you'll have personalized attention at these small vineyards. You can also take a self-guided tour of those wineries featured in the 2004 Academy Award winner, "Sideways." 960 1280

Jay Sinclair  

Destinations in California

The Hot List

Explore America’s most stunning scenery.
Join the conversation on Social Media!
Stay updated on the latest travel tips and trends.
Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.