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  • Pamela Froman

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Santa Barbara is a stunning paradise. There are gorgeous beaches, hotels with amazing amenities, and tons of culture and beauty.

Where should you stay while in town? The Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort, located in the waterfront area, has undergone a major $15M interior renovation. The 360-room property was originally named after Fess Parker, the actor known for his portrayal of Davy Crockett. The renovation includes the guest rooms which now feature a sophisticated but light and airy, ocean-inspired aesthetic, a spacious lobby, casual dining at the Roundhouse Restaurant and Java Del Mar, as well as 45,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms. Enjoy this serene beachfront retreat and live the authentic Santa Barbara experience with views from every room. hiltonsantabarbararesort.com

While at the hotel, check in for a restful spa treatment at Santa Barbara Spa del Mar. Santa Barbara Spa del Mar relaxes with customized massages, facials and signature body treatments. The spa uses pure jojoba oil for all of its massages. www.santabarbaraspadelmar.com

Beer lovers, rejoice! Kris Parker, Fess Parker's grandson, has established his own brewery, Third Window Brewing Co. Third Window is named after the symbol for the tower of Saint Barbara. The pub serves delicious food, sourcing ingredients from the Parker family farm and ranch in Los Olivos and its cool brews incorporate local ingredients. www.thirdwindowbrewing.com Try some delicious vintages while winetasting at Potek Winery. Potek Winery is committed to producing the best possible wines from Santa Barbara’s most exciting vineyards. www.potek.com

It's time to grab some grub! The Luna family from Guadalajara have created an upscale take on Mexican cuisine. Santo Mezcal features a delicious menu by Executive Chef Ricardo Garcia that’s rooted in traditional flavors with a focus on seafood. Don't forget to try the lavender martinis – flavored with Mezcal, honey-lavender syrup, lemon, and lavender bud. www.santomezcalsb.com

Cat Therapy is Santa Barbara’s first cat café. Order coffee drinks or smoothies and enjoy a 45-minute session with adoptable cats. You can pet or play with kitties and browse the boutique of unique feline-themed gifts. www.cattherapysb.com

There is no better way to explore Santa Barbara than on the Santa Barbara Trolley Co. Enjoy a 90-minute narrated trolley tour of the city with highlights including Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, Butterfly Beach and more. www.sbtrolley.com

Take a ride! Wheel Fun Rentals of Santa Barbara offers the largest selection of surreys, specialty cycles, bicycles, Taga Bikes, and more. You can cruise along the coastline path, explore the Santa Barbara harbor – all on wheels! wheelfunrentalssb.com

Some historical activities that you must take in while in town include:

The Santa Barbara Mission was established in 1786 by the Spanish Franciscans. More than 200 years later, it continues to be a cultural icon and landmark. www.santabarbaramission.org

El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park preserves the site of the last of four military outposts built by the Spanish. Two buildings of the original presidio have been restored, others have been reconstructed and archaeological excavations are ongoing. Several portions of the Presidio are available to visitors on self-guided tours, including the Chapel, Comandancia, and Padre‘s Quarters.

Animals abound in this seaside oasis.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is home to 146 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. More than 500 animals are exhibited in open, naturalistic habitats. www.sbzoo.org

Discover the illuminating world of ocean and land life at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Located on Stearns Wharf, this interactive space lets you get close and personal to marine animals, mammals and birds. There are also daily planetarium shows. www.sbnature.org

There are many museums in Santa Barbara, with varied displays.

A truly living museum, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden features 78 acres with more than 1,000 California native plants. These gorgeous displays illustrate the remarkable diversity of California's flora and vegetation. www.sbbg.org

Santa Barbara Museum of Art features a collection of the arts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, ceramics, glass, jades, bronzes, lacquer, and textiles. The exhibitions span more than 5,000 years of human creativity. www.sbma.net

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is devoted to science, technology and the arts. Explore three floors of interactive exhibits or design your own inventions in the Innovation Workshop. www.moxi.org

Enjoy your visit to the American Riviera!

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