Santa Barbara is less than 100 miles from hyper-metropolitan Los Angeles but differs vastly from its huge neighbor to the south. With a mild climate and lush natural environs, the "Riviera of the West" is perfect for a day trip from LA, with its wide beaches, highly rated wineries, and a large variety of shopping and dining choices, that enables the town of just 90,000 residents to enjoy the sort of cultural and social amenities which are usually found only in much larger cities.
Although the common perception of Santa Barbara is as a playground for the rich and famous, the reality is that the average income is only slightly higher than California as a whole. Notable for its California Mission-style architecture (a long-standing local ordinance ensures that all commercial construction follow the Mission theme, which results in a plethora of red-tiled roofs and faux adobe supermarkets), local residents are intensely proud of their city's roots and traditions, and a number of hugely popular festivals throughout the year celebrate the many cultures found in the city.
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