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.

Photos

point arena lighthouse

point arena lighthouse

Marianela gets the 411 on the historic Point Arena Lighthouse from expert William Brown. 960 1280

  

Mendocino County

Mendocino County

Point Arena Lighthouse is located in Mendocino County, CA, 2 miles north of Point Arena. 960 1280

  

fresnel lens

fresnel lens

Marianela checks out the first-order Fresnel lens, worth over 3.5 million and made from over 600 hand-ground glass prisms. 960 1280

  

lighthouse musuem

lighthouse musuem

Some items in the museum have been kept since the lighthouse’s reconstruction in the 1906. 960 1280

  

original lighthouse

original lighthouse

The original lighthouse, constructed in 1870, was destroyed when a devastating earthquake struck the Light Station. 960 1280

  

lighthouse top

lighthouse top

Marianela can’t wait to reach the top of the lighthouse. 960 1280

  

musuem gift shop

musuem gift shop

These unique handmade mirrors are available for sale in the museum gift shop. 960 1280

  

100 stairs

100 stairs

Only 100 more stairs to the top! 960 1280

  

postcard

postcard

Point Area Light looks like it appeared straight out of a postcard. 960 1280

  

california coast

california coast

Marianela and William check out the spectacular view of the California coast. 960 1280

  

symbol of hope

symbol of hope

Many view the majestic lighthouse as a symbol of hope. 960 1280

  

lighthouse keepers

lighthouse keepers

“These (lighthouse) Keepers must’ve really been in shape,” says Marianela. 960 1280

  

tallest lighthouse

tallest lighthouse

The Point Arena Lighthouse is one of the tallest lighthouses on the West Coast. 960 1280

  

rocky coast

rocky coast

The lighthouse was built to help ships navigate their way through the rocky coast. 960 1280

  

dockweiler beach

dockweiler beach

Marianela, craving some s’mores, heads to Dockweiler Beach, one of the only beaches in Southern California where you can have a bonfire. 960 1280

  

hang gliding

hang gliding

The beach is also famous for being a hang-glider flight-training park, and was a major testing ground for hang gliding pioneers in the '60s. 960 1280

  

relaxation

relaxation

Dockweiler is perfect for a day of relaxation, hanging with friends, and enjoying the beautiful view of the shore. 960 1280

  

hot dog

hot dog

Marianela enjoys a hot dog she cooked on the bonfire. 960 1280

  

close up

close up

Marianela is ready for her close-up. 960 1280

  

bonfire

bonfire

Marianela gets ready to chop some wood for the bonfire. 960 1280

  

bonfire making

bonfire making

Beachgoers teach Marianela the proper technique to making a bonfire. 960 1280

  

boeing airplane

boeing airplane

Marianela checks out the Boeing 747 airplane flying by. 960 1280

  

football

football

Marianela plays a little football as the sun sets on Dockweiler Beach. 960 1280

  

bonfire making

bonfire making

Marianela learns that making a bonfire isn’t as easy as it looks, but eventually gets the hang of it. 960 1280

  

new friends

new friends

Marianela poses with her new friends, “champions” of bonfire making. 960 1280

  

LAX

LAX

Dockweiler is located right off the takeoff path for LAX. 960 1280

  

sunset

sunset

As the sun sets, Marianela takes in the gorgeous view of the LA shoreline. 960 1280

  

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 <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/the-del-on-coronado-beach">Hotel del Coronado</a> and sip cocktails on its patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Tashka/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

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  

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

JB325/ 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, <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/venice-beachs-weirdness">Marianela Pereyra</a>, 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, <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/relaxing-on-dockweiler-beach">Dockweiler Beach</a> 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