An ideal starting point for a trip up the scenic California coast, the fashionable and relaxing seaside resort of Santa Barbara exudes a visually alluring Spanish-Mediterranean flair, replete with red-tile roofs, whitewashed buildings and striking antique adobe dwellings. Because of the temperate climate, tropical trees and masses of colorful shrubs and cascading vines bloom throughout the year. Nestled between the sea and mountains (90 miles northwest of Los Angeles), the town embraces a wide palm-fringed beach and festive wooden pier lined with casual restaurants. A short drive up State Street takes you to the historic shopping and arts district filled with upscale brand-name stores, specialty boutiques, art galleries and museums fronting brick sidewalks and quaint cobbled arcades. Farther on in the foothills, you will find the beloved twin-towered Mission of Santa Barbara.