Gibraltar Road at Santa Barbara County

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Start the day in Santa Barbara County with a sunrise horseback ride through the oak-dotted hills of Santa Ynez and close with a picturesque beach sunset sipping a glass of local Pinot Noir. In between, hit the links overlooking the Pacific Ocean and immerse yourself in timeless architecture. These are not dreams, but reality in Santa Barbara County.

At the heart of Santa Barbara’s community is a diversity unlike anywhere else in California. Celebrations throughout the county like the annual Chumash Pow-Wow, Old Spanish Days Fiesta, Solvang’s Danish Days, country rodeos, and an international film festival illustrate this cultural range. Even the county fair has been thrilling residents since 1891. This cultural variety is also exhibited through the County’s exquisite celebration of history, agriculture, and recreation, which intersect to make Santa Barbara County truly unique.

Santa Barbara County is rich with a cultural history that started thousands of years ago. Beginning with the Chumash, who first inhabited these shores, to the 19th and 20th century architects who defined Santa Barbara’s modern but classic visual style, history is everywhere. Santa Barbara is The American Riviera®, where modern California luxury meets understated Old World elegance. Among the County’s iconic landmarks are the Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, both of which are designated National Historic Landmarks. For a different feel, venture north to Los Alamos where Bell Street antique stores, art galleries, and restaurants among a late 19th-century hotel, are reminders of this former Pacific Coast Railway depot.

With culture and history as its backbone, agriculture adds the spice to Santa Barbara County. The Pacific Ocean breeze drifts through the sloping hills and mountains of the County’s six American Viticultural Areas to create some of the world’s most exciting wines. Meanwhile, Lompoc is known as the Flower Seed Capital of the World and Carpinteria is home to the California Avocado Festival every October.

Recreational opportunities abound from sailing and sea kayaking to paragliding. And cycling is a celebrated pastime here: Miles of rolling terrain make Santa Barbara County an ideal place for two-wheeled adventure. Front country canyons and scenic hiking trails are close to downtown Santa Barbara while camping at Lake Cachuma and El Capitan State Beach offer a more secluded respite from city life. Further north, surfers ride the waves and sunbathers relax at Jalama Beach, Ocean Beach, or Rancho Guadalupe Dunes. Sunset Magazine named these “three Santa Barbara beaches with big scenery and no crowds.” Further south, check out Rincon Beach Park for “the best point break in California” according to DEEP Surf Magazine and the annual Rincon Classic surf competition.

Santa Barbara County and the Amgen Tour of California and are an ideal match. In fact, the Tour has finished eight stages here since its inception. Of those, an American has won seven. That is until 2016. For the second time in three years, the peloton will finish atop the iconic Gibraltar Road climb at La Cumbre Peak in 2018. Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe won here in 2016, catapulting him into the leader’s jersey and the Tour’s overall victory. Closing Stage 2 of the 2018 Amgen Tour of California, the Gibraltar finish is sure to once again define the race.

Learn more about The American Riviera® and access itineraries, trip planning tools, a calendar of events and more at

Three Things To-Do in Gibraltar Road at Santa Barbara County

Called “the best point break in California” according to DEEP Surf Magazine visit Rincon Beach Park in Carpinteria to try your hand at west coast surfing. In February each year, locals and international surfers come to attend the annual Rincon Classic surf competition.

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Ride one of the Amgen Tour of California’s iconic climbs, as Gibraltar Road rises with 3,410 feet of climb starting at almost sea level. This ride has limited water and can be hot during summer months. Plan accordingly.

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Santa Barbara is a city on the central California coast, with the Santa Ynez Mountains as dramatic backdrop. Downtown, Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings with red-tile roofs reflect the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. Upscale boutiques and restaurants offering local wines and seasonal fare line State Street. On a nearby hill, Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786, houses Franciscan friars and a museum.

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