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.
stearns wharf ty warner sea center santa barbaraStroll along Stearns Wharf, California's oldest working wharf. In between wine tasting, fine restaurant and fish market detours, check out Ty Warner Sea Center to see some friendly leopard sharks! 960 1280
Chevy 1955 Bel Air and Sonoran Hot DogsMichael (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
US-Mexico $2 Billion Border FenceI'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
Mountain MinutemenIn 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
Coronado BeachJust 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
Pismo BeachPismo 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
La JollaYou’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
Sonoma CoastSonoma 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
Main Beach in Santa CruzFor 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
Huntington Beach PierWith 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.
Venice BeachOur 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
Baker BeachTo 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
Malibu Surfrider BeachFormerly 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
Dockweiler State BeachLocated 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
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
Santa CruzAlthough 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.
San Juan BautistaFounded 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.
San Carlos Boorromeo de CarmeloFounded 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.
Nuestra Senora de la SoledadThe 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.
San Antonio de PaduaLocated 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 ArcangelThis 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.
San Luis Obispo de TolosaThis 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.
San BuenaventuraThe 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.
San Fernando Rey de EspanaFather 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.
San Gabriel ArcangelFounded 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.
San Luis Rey de FranciaKnown 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.
San Diego de AlcalaThe 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.