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California Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara the easy way

December 28, 2011|By Cary Ordway, Californiaweekend.com

If there is a more beautiful city in California than Santa Barbara, we have yet to find it. Broad beaches are set against lush vegetation and a hilly landscape that is nestled just in front of the picturesque Santa Ynez Mountains. An abundance of Spanish architecture completes a panorama that could just as well be a beautiful city on the Mediterranean.

In fact, Santa Barbara marketing gurus like to refer to their little piece of California as the American Riviera because of its resemblance to other warm, coastal areas in other parts of the world.

But like any thriving city in an idyllic location — and especially one that has development geographically restricted by lack of buildable space — real estate prices in Santa Barbara are high. In fact, the cost of living means that many people who work in Santa Barbara can’t actually afford to live there. They end up commuting from the more affordable cities and towns nearby.

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The beautiful thing about visiting Santa Barbara is you don’t have to stay in less expensive nearby towns. You can live — if only for a few days — in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

There are many fine hotels in the city and you can choose how much you want to spend during your stay. The beach hotels are spectacular, and you’ll find comfortable boutique hotels available on State Street in the city’s colorful main shopping district. But we found you don’t have to pay a lot for your room if you don’t mind staying in a smaller inn.

We had seen a $79 rate advertised for the Cabrillo Inn, located on East Beach in one of the city’s most popular locations. We found out that it’s true — it’s possible to pay bargain basement rates and still be on the beach in Santa Barbara. Go to any city or town in California and it’s often hard to find a good room for just $79 — forget about a beach. Getting that rate on the beach in Santa Barbara really is extraordinary.

The only small catch is that this rate doesn’t give you a unit facing the ocean. But for just a few dollars more, you can get the ocean-facing unit and, even if you don’t, how tough is it to walk out the door, turn the corner and see East Beach and the vast Pacific Ocean in front of you?

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