Santa Barbara is a city and metropolitan area less than 100 miles (160 km) from Los Angeles but vastly different in pace from its huge neighbor to the south. With a temperate climate and lush natural environs, the "Riviera of the West" is a pleasant day or weekend trip from L.A. Its wide beaches, highly rated wineries, and a large variety of shopping and dining choices enable 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 within city limits 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 follows 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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