Lovingly referred to as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara, California is a prominent vacation destination for people of all ages. Nestled right between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this coastal city has plenty to offer in the way of both relaxation and adventure. Whether you want to unwind in the sun at the beach, go hiking in the mountains, take a tour of one of the area’s many wineries, or explore the city’s many unique boutique shops and restaurants, you’ll never run out of things to do in Santa Barbara. Book your stay at one of many incredible Santa Barbara vacation rentals today. Here are some of the best towns and neighborhoods in the Santa Barbara area.

1. Goleta

Teeming with nature and friendly locals, Goleta is the premier destination for vacationers looking for an authentic California experience. Head to Goleta Beach, where you might see some dolphins and sea lions, or bring your surfboard to Campus Point surf break, a favorite surf spot among the locals. The Butterfly Preserve is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing stroll. If you prefer riding, bring your bicycle to the Coast Route bike path for a scenic ride along the ocean and wooded areas.

2. Carpinteria

Carpinteria is just a 10-minute drive south of Santa Barbara. This beach community is the ideal choice if you’re looking for vacation rentals near some of California’s finest beaches. Many of the locals thoroughly enjoy gorgeous beaches like Rincon Beach, Padaro Beach, and Carpinteria State Beach in addition to Santa Barbara Beach. Be sure to take a stroll down Linden Street, where you’ll find a variety of specialty shops and restaurants.

3. Montecito

If you’re on the hunt for luxurious vacation rentals, this coastal haven is a wonderful choice. The area attracts many celebrities and boasts world-class shopping and dining, as well as stunning views and exceptional hiking terrain in the Montecito hills. Head to Miramar Beach in Montecito for a day of sunbathing, or head to Hammond Point to surf some of California’s finest waves.

4. Downtown Santa Barbara

If you’re looking for a vacation rental near all the action, the downtown area is the place to be. The area is great for exploring by foot, and there are plenty of family-friendly attractions to explore. The Red Tile Walking Tour is an outstanding introduction to the area if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything. Be sure to stop by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to see some truly historic exhibits, including a large collection of Monet paintings.

5. Summerland

If you want to stay in a vacation rental that’s a little more private and exclusive, choose Summerland, a town that provides quick access to Santa Barbara while giving you that small-town feel. Talk a walk along Ortega Hill Road, where you’ll find inviting cafes, breathtaking antique shops, and exquisite wine tasting venues. Take a hike through the stunning Toro Canyon Park, and be sure to keep an eye out for the area’s unique birds and wildlife.

6. Mesa

Although it’s just a quick drive away from downtown Santa Barbara, Mesa provides a very different experience. The town is situated on the bluffs right above the beach, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a better view in the area. Pack a picnic lunch, and just take it all in. Mesa provides a peaceful, relaxing environment that’s just a stone’s throw away from all that the rest of Santa Barbara has to offer.

7. San Roque

San Roque is a great place to look for a vacation rental if you’re traveling with kids. While it’s still close enough to provide easy access to Santa Barbara, but it’s more of a family oriented area, and it’s where many locals call home. There are quite a few grassy parks where you can relax while the young ones run around. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is also in San Roque, and it’s a fun and informative place to spend the day.

8. Mission Canyon

Located on an elevated plot of land between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Mission Canyon offers some of the most picturesque views in the Santa Barbara area. Bring the kids to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for a fun yet educational day. The scenic Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to learn about and appreciate the area’s gorgeous plant life.

9. Funk Zone

The Funk Zone is a thriving 10-block arts community in Santa Barbara. It’s a popular spot for surfers, artists, and anyone else who enjoys something a little more vibrant than your typical Santa Barbara neighborhood. Enjoy walking along the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, where you can taste some of the area’s finest wines. This neighborhood is a haven for foodies, boasting a wide range of eateries, wineries, and breweries.

10. Solvang

Solvang is a truly magical place to look for vacation rentals. It’s a quaint and charming Danish village that really captures the culture. Be sure to drop by at least one of the area’s numerous cafes and bakeries for some authentic, tantalizing fresh-baked goods. There are plenty of other attractions in the area, including outdoor nighttime productions at the Solvang Festival Theater. Be sure to check the local calendar, as Solvang hosts various festivals throughout the year.

11. Isla Vista

Located right near the beach, Isla Vista is an attractive area to look for vacation rentals if you’re planning on doing some partying while you’re in town. This neighborhood the ideal stomping grounds for those who enjoy the nightlife. Spend a day recovering in Anisq’Oyo’ Park, or take your bike cruiser for a spin down scenic Del Playa Drive, then stash it in your vacation rental while you go out exploring by foot.