Santa Barbara: The American Riviera

With oceanfront views, cinematic festivals and fine wine, Santa Barbara has been called the "American Riviera" -- with a twist. The coastal city also comes with a down-home style all its own.

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A classic car and a Sonoran hotdog food truck called Chuyitos
Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Michael (Voltaggio) is obsessed with classic American cars. In fact, he owns this exact same model — a Chevy 1955 Bel Air. He wanted to drive it down to Arizona, but since we had to make sure he actually arrived in time for the shoot, we decided to rent one instead. Our first stop was a truck that sells the famous Sonoran hot dogs, which Michael insisted we eat several feet away from the car so as not to get it dirty.  That whole morning, I felt like we'd been transported 60 years back in time! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

US-Mexico $2 Billion Border Fence

I've been reporting on border and immigration issues for years, but this was the first time I got to see the $2 billion border fence from above. Border Patrol says it's been effective in preventing the movement of illegal goods and people from Mexico into the US, but opponents call it a boondoggle. They say that all it does is drive immigrants to more dangerous (fenceless) terrain, which means more deaths along the border for those pursuing a better life for themselves and their families. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

649-Mile Fence

649-Mile Fence

The brown line you see is part of the 649-mile fence. Since it's not a continuous fence, it covers less than a third of the 1,954-mile US-Mexican border.   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

The Border From Above

The Border From Above

Flying over the US-Mexican border on a 4-seat Cessna. I look calm and collected, but this is where I learned that having a chef as the co-pilot is never a good idea. You can't be good at everything, Voltaggio! 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

View From the Other Side

View From the Other Side

This photo was taken in Nogales, AZ. On the other side of the 18-foot fence is Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico. I've been here on reporting trips before, but the sheer size of the fence never ceases to surprise me.     960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

'Breaking Bad'?

'Breaking Bad'?

It ain't Breaking Bad; it's Breaking Borders. Oh, and it airs every Sunday at 9|8c on Travel Channel. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael Voltaggio, Excited for Cuisine & Compliments

Michael is excited to try authentic Mexican food in Nogales, Sonora. Or perhaps it's because a 70-year-old Mexican lady just said, "Qué gringo más guapo!" (“What a handsome gringo!”)   960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

Yes, they were all for me — 10 shots of pure gold. What happens in the field stays in the field. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Mountain Minutemen

Mountain Minutemen

In Arizona, we spent a few hours one night with members of the Mountain Minutemen, a group of armed men and women who camp out in the desert, hunting for illegal border crossers. This man asked us not to show his face or reveal his identity, but the leader of the group, Robert Crooks, was one of our dinner guests on the episode. 960 1280

Mariana van Zeller  

Photos

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach

Just 5 minutes from San Diego, this family-friendly beach boasts wide stretches of sand, mostly calm surf and ideal whale watching (January through March). The lifeguards on staff, nearby public facilities and free parking along Ocean Boulevard add to its convenience -- and popularity. Couples can take a romantic walk to the luxury beachfront Hotel del Coronado and sip cocktails on its patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Tashka/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, founded by the Chumash Indian Tribe, is located in central California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Whichever direction you travel from, there’s plenty of activities to keep you here: fishing on the 1,200-foot-long pier, strolling through the Monarch Butterfly Grove, horseback riding along private trails, and exploring tide pools and caves, to name just a few. 960 1280

Mimi Ditchie Photography / Getty Images  

La Jolla

La Jolla

You’ll have to leave the surfboards and boogie boards behind, but trust us it will be worth it. La Jolla Cove is the most desired area for swimming, snorkeling and diving; it is ecologically protected, making it a safe home for the bright orange Garibaldi fish (among others species) in the crescent-shaped cove. Called “the jewel” of San Diego, this beach is small, but you’ll find more room to stretch out on the mile-long La Jolla Shores to the north. 960 1280

John Hoffman/ iStock/ Thinkstock   

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast State Beach comprises 13 miles of coastline, stretching from Blind Beach to Bodega Head. It’s dotted with nothing save hidden beaches tucked between the rocky coves and tall bluffs. Follow the Sonoma Coast Trail to visit these secret beaches and take postcard-worthy pictures, #nofilter necessary. 960 1280

Jairo Leiva/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

For most beachgoers in Santa Cruz, Main Beach is where the action is -- complete with restaurants, shops, surfing spots, beach volleyball courts and, of course, a scenic boardwalk and bandstand. If you ask us, it’s just the right amount of Americana. 960 1280

Mitch Diamond/ Photodisc/ Getty Images  

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Pier

With a location at the end of Main Street and a nickname like “Surf City, USA,” Huntington Beach evokes a time gone by. The pier (one of the longest on the West Coast), the year-round surf (thanks to ocean swells around Catalina Island) and Ruby’s Diner (the milkshakes are a must) will continue to draw crowds here for years to come. 
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Christopher Riddler/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Our resident beach expert, Marianela Pereyra, can attest to its weirdness, but there’s a reason Venice Beach is world famous. It may bring to mind visions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muscle Beach of the ’70s, but let us assure you that the 1 1/2-mile-long boardwalk is still the perfect storm for people watching, street performers and souvenir shopping. 960 1280

Christian Kober/ AWL Images/ Getty Images  

Baker Beach

Baker Beach

To the west of the Golden Gate Bridge lies the rocky serpentine shoreline of Baker Beach. Rip currents make swimming unsafe, but you’re here for the panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge … and maybe to picnic. Just don’t venture too far north unless you’re looking for another kind of scene: the northernmost end of Baker Beach, which attracts clothing-optional sunbathers. 960 1280

Jamairani/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Formerly known as Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon State Beach’s famous right point breaks have made it the most-surfed spot in Los Angeles since the ’60s. Arrive early to find a parking spot and pick a point -- some of the perfect swells due to Surfrider Beach will give you a ride all the way to the pier (a couple hundred feet away). And for non-surfers, the historic wooden Malibu Pier offers excellent saltwater fishing, bird-watching and picnicking. 960 1280

Ryan McVay/ Digital Vision/ Thinkstock  

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach

Located just west of the LAX runway, Dockweiler Beach is where people come to relax and party. That’s because the 3-mile-long shoreline is the only Los Angeles beach that has an RV park and allows bonfires. S’mores, anyone? 960 1280

Jose Gil/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Ruby's Diner is located at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier, one of the longest public piers on the West Coast. 960 1280

Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau  

Laguna Beach is a seaside resort city made famous by MTV's series of the same name following privileged SoCal teenagers. 960 1280

Jeri Koegel through Flickr Creative Commons  

Laguna Beach is the second-oldest city in Orange County, second to Anaheim. Its picturesque coastline is midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. 960 1280

Chris Eason through Flickr Creative Commons  

There's no shortage of shopping for real housewives or tourists in Orange County. 960 1280

La Citta Vita through Flickr Creative Commons  

The newly-renovated Hilton La Jolla sits atop the bluffs and overlooks the legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course and Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Paul Cross through Creative Commons  

One of the youngest cities in the OC, Rancho Santa Margarita is a beautifully planned community set upon the rolling hills. 960 1280

Courtesy City of Rancho Santa Margarita  

The streets of downtown La Jolla are spotted with the world's shopping elite visiting storefronts from charming boutiques to high-end art galleries. 960 1280

Alejandro Mallea through Creative Commons  

San Clemente is a popular surfing destination, catching swells all year long. 960 1280

Curtis Fry through Flickr Creative Commons  

Newport Beach Harbor is a semi-artificial harbor that created several islands such as Newport Island, Balboa Island, Collins Island and more now mostly covered with private homes. 960 1280

John Martinez Pavliga through Flickr Creative Commons  

Imagine soaking in the sunset view at home in Laguna Beach. 960 1280

Jeri Koegel through Flickr Creative Commons  

La Jolla's curving coast along the Pacific Ocean is an affluent seaside resort with home prices averaging $2 million. 960 1280

Paul Hamilton through Flickr Creative Commons  

The South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa define luxury shopping with the highest sales in the US. 960 1280

  

With more than 12 miles of sand and surf and 8 miles of paved boardwalk downtown Huntington Beach offers one-of-a-kind shopping, dining, activities and nightlife. 960 1280

Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau  

San Francisco Solano

San Francisco Solano

Founded on July 4, 1823, by Father Jose Altimira, this historic mission was the site of the Bear Flag Revolt that led to the establishment of the California Republic in 1846. 960 1280

By M.Bucka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Rafael Arcangel

San Rafael Arcangel

This mission is located 20 miles north of San Francisco at the foot of Mount Tamalpais. It was established as a sanitarium and hospital for San Francisco neophytes suffering from depression and disease.
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San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores)

San Francisco de Asis (Mission Dolores)

On a site selected by Juan Bautista de Anza, the first mission church was a 50-foot-long log and mud structure. It was eventually moved to higher ground, adjacent to Lake Dolores. The mission was dedicated to Saint Francis by Father Serra in 1776. 960 1280

By Photograph by Robert A. EstremoLordkinbote at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], from Wikimedia Commons  

San Jose

San Jose

The most recent mission to have its church restored, the work truly captures the look and feel of 1830s prosperity. Founded in 1797 by Father Lasuen, the fertile site was chosen because of its view of Mission Dolores and Yerba Buena Island.
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By King of Hearts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons  

Santa Clara de Asis

Santa Clara de Asis

Located on the Guadeloupe River, the log chapel was founded in 1777 by Father Serra in honor of St. Clare. In 1851, work began which ultimately produced Santa Clara University as we know it today.
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By JaGa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons  

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

Although the soil was excellent and the location ideal, this mission never reached its potential. The dedication of Mission la Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz was made in 1791 by Father Lasuen, but the site was unfortunately located next to Branciforte pueblo, a community of ex-convicts and thieves.
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By Howcheng (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

Founded by Father Lasuen in 1797, this mission was unwittingly located directly above the San Andreas fault. Much of the original structure remains and has been restored. It's considered the largest California mission church and the only one with 3 aisles. It was named for John the Baptist. 
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By JimWhiteheadUCSC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Carlos Boorromeo de Carmelo

San Carlos Boorromeo de Carmelo

Founded by Father Serra in 1770 on Pentecost Sunday, this mission was considered to be his favorite. Both he and Father Lasuen are buried here. It served as the ecclesiastical capital of California, as well as Father Serra's headquarters for administrative duties as president of the missions.
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By Didier B (Sam67fr) (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons  

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

The padres named this mission for Our Lady of Solitude in 1791, which fits its isolated location. The rich soil and plentiful water helped the mission produce more than 100,000 bushels of wheat per year and raise nearly 17,000 head of livestock.
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By The original uploader was Lordkinbote at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Antonio de Padua

San Antonio de Padua

Located 40 miles north of Paso Robles, this picturesque mission is nestled in the grasslands and oak trees of the San Antonio Valley. Named for a saint known as the "miracle worker," it was dedicated in 1771 by Father Serra. The church is known for its campanario and archway bells. 960 1280
San Miguel Arcangel

San Miguel Arcangel

This mission was founded in 1797 by Father Lasuen. It completed the mission chain from San Luis Obispo to Mission Dolores in San Francisco. Located in the Salinas Valley, it was the mid point between the San Luis Obispo and San Antonio Missions. Under the direction of Esteban Munros, the Indians painted the walls and ceilings with ornate designs; the original murals are the best preserved in California today.
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By JPRoy2101 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

San Luis Obispo de Tolosa

This humble chapel, built of logs, was dedicated to St. Louis, Bishop of Tolosa in 1772. It was the first mission to use tiles extensively on the roof due to repeated attacks by Indians who used flaming arrows to ignite the original thatched roof.
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By Rennett Stowe (Flickr: Mission San Luis Obispo) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

La Purísima Concepción

La Purísima Concepción

Founded in 1787 by Father Lasuen, this mission is located 50 miles west of Santa Barbara. Considered to be the best example of mission architecture, it has 37 rooms that have been completely restored and furnished.
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By Baseball636 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Santa Ines

Santa Ines

This mission was named for a 13-year-old Roman martyr, St. Agnes, who refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods in 304 AD. Santa Ines was dedicated in 1804 by Father Estevan Tapis. The museum contains a notable collection of vestments, church records and missals. 960 1280

By Ymblanter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Founded in 1786, the "Queen of the Missions" was the first to be christened by Father Lasuen and has continuously served as a parish church for the local population.
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By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Buenaventura

San Buenaventura

The ninth mission in the chain was founded on Easter Sunday in 1782 by Father Serra and dedicated to St. Bonaventure. It was the last mission the humble priest would christen. Restored in 1957, the facade exhibits an unusual triangular design which opens onto the gardens.
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By Ricardo Holden (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Fernando Rey de Espana

San Fernando Rey de Espana

Father Lasuen named this mission in honor of King Ferdinand III of Spain in 1797. Located 25 miles north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, the convent is the largest freestanding adobe in California and was originally used as a hospice for travelers.
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By The original uploader was Geographer at English Wikipedia [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Gabriel Arcangel

San Gabriel Arcangel

Founded in 1771 by Junipero Serra, this fortress-like structure with 5-foot thick walls and narrow windows is a design not found in any other mission. One-fourth of the wealth of the California missions' in stock and grain was credited to San Gabriel.
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By Robert A. Estremo (en-wkipedia, en:User:Lordkinbote) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Juan Capistrano

San Juan Capistrano

Named for Crusader Saint John of Capistrano and designed in the shape of a cross, this great stone church once consisted of 7 domes and a bell tower so tall it could be seen from 10 miles away.
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By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Luis Rey de Francia

San Luis Rey de Francia

Known as the "King of the Missions," San Luis Rey de Francia lies in a sheltered valley just east of Oceanside on State Highway 76. Named for Louis IX, the crusading King of France, the cross-shaped church was dedicated on the Feast of St. Anthony in 1798 by Father Lasuen.
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By Visitor7 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

San Diego de Alcala

San Diego de Alcala

The mission trail in California began here on July 16, 1769, when Fathers Serra, Palou and Parron planted a large cross in the beachhead near the mouth of the San Diego River. A bell was suspended from a nearby tree, and the site was dedicated to St. Didacus.
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By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

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