If you've never visited Santa Barbara, you should plan to. It is called the "American Riviera" because it resembles the European Riviera in it's topography, climate and flora. The city is old, one of the stops of the Spanish missionaries who built a Mission there, and remarkably, it had a very visionary mandate to keep the city looking like a small Spanish town. The architecture is likely very controlled, which is probably a bane to those who want to be original and modern. But for those of us who appreciate the local flavor, Santa Barbara is a beautiful place. While it is a big city, they have refrained from tall buildings, almost all new commercial construction still reflects the white or terracotta stucco and tile roof look that has been here for over 300 years. They city is on a small bay and faces a channel of islands off the coast.
So, you're probably wondering what this has to do with a scootering blog, right? Well, Santa Barbara is also a great city for riding. I try not to miss the annual "Endless Summer" rally as it let's me combine a visit to Grandma with some fun and beautiful scootering routes. You can ride along the coast and stop to browse the weekend arts fair that lines the beach sidewalk. The hills offer fun curvy roads and beautiful scenery. Downtown has lots of quaint, independent eateries and shops if you want to cruise the long outdoor State Street Mall. There is also a lively arts scene with plays and musical events happening all the time. While Santa Barbara is a wealthy area (I could never afford to live there) it also has a large college student population, so you can find inexpensive places to get a drink and some food while still wearing beach bum clothes.
Unortunately, this trip was mired with rain. Lots of it. I had scheduled to borrow a bike from Bobby at Moto Paradiso (the local Vespa shop) and was set to take a cruise around the city with Janel Holiday (one of the brains behind the All Girl Scooter Rally). I thought it would be a slam-dunk, easy article for the magazine, but then it rained. And rained. So my one day of scootering paradise was turned into mall shopping and mani/pedi relaxation. Sometimes you can get all the plans in place, but a little thing like weather can throw it all off. I hope to get back there when the weather improves and write my article. In the meantime, if you have a chance to get there with scooter in tow, do it. The "Endless SUmmer" rally usually takes place in September, so mark your calendar.