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Santa Barbara

  A Shore Thing
  Beach Bungalow
  Beach Walk
  Best Kept Secret
  Bird Watchers Delight
  Buena Vista
  Casa Sol y Luna
  City Lights
  Coastal Escape
  Coastal Pearl
  Dolphin's Cove
  Heavenly Haven
  Hideaway Villa
  Ocean Vista
  Our Happy Place
  Our Refuge
  Pebble Hill
  Prancing Pony
  Santa Barbara Getaway
  Sea Otter
  Sea Views
  Sea Watch
  Stone House Cottage
  The Retreat
  Villa Robles
  Vista del Mar



Palm Springs

  Villa Vista

Mammoth Lakes

  Alpine Rose
  Happy Trails
  Knotty Pine


  Lake Front Retreat
  Magnificent Montana


  Ocean Front Escape


  South of France


  Sunsets and Sand


  Casa Alba
  La Torre


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A Nebraska Family's Weekend in Santa Barbara

Our family booked a weekend in Santa Barbara after deliberating over several other locations in California. We couldn't afford to fly into the Santa Barbara Municipal airport, so we settled for LAX and gritted our teeth during the evening drive to the Pacific Coast Highway. The kids were hungry and we stopped at a deli in Malibu which made the airport food in Omaha seem cheap by comparison. Still, this was California, and we'd expected a bit of a price-shock. At least the locals are good eye candy.

The minivan we'd arranged for our Santa Barbara weekend was a Caravan with a full tank of gas and a swiveling middle seating area for the kids. My wife ended up hopping back there too and they were all yelling out the window at celebrities. They saw a lot of beach beauties but no one I'd ever seen in the Enquirer, though my wife says she's pretty sure Jean-Claude Van Damme was practicing his round house on a fellow outside of a Santa Monica coffee shop.

By the time we'd arrived in Santa Barbara, it had been two hours and fifteen minutes, not bad time according to the clerk at the vacation house check-in. Once we'd reached Malibu, the drive was serene all the way into Santa Barbara and my stress levels declined considerably, only occasionally spiking due to the kids throwing a blunt object at the back of my head just to get a reaction. I tuned the radio to a local jazz station and tuned them out in the process. I was intent on arriving without a bump on my skull and spending an hour in the hot tub, which was to be attached to our private deck.

This weekend in Santa Barbara was to be the most expensive vacation we had yet taken as a family of four, but my recent bonus and the drastic reduction in weekend pricing had served as the impetus for this trip. Also, this was an anniversary weekend, and my wife thought I'd forgotten again, but I didn't. People may tout the antioxidant benefits of blackberries, but mine was a calendar and an appointment book that saved my hide much more spectacularly than a berry ever could.

Our private beach house had an ironing board, washer and dryer, vaulted ceilings, and a view of the ocean. When the kids were napping, I could hear the waves crashing a short distance away from our deck, which featured large French doors. The wife clicked the fireplace on and off and tittered with joy when she found the remote control for the blinds. I'd never seen anything like it either, but the feeling of newness eventually subsided when we strolled outside for a walk on the beach at dusk.

Santa Barbara beaches are indescribable. They're neither overcrowded nor neglected, and the water was soothing to my aching legs after the long flight from Nebraska. Memo to self: I could get used to this. 

The kids buried themselves in the cleanest sand I'd ever seen, and our weekend in Santa Barbara quickly became the topic of conversation at dinner for months. I promised the kids that if they manage to graduate from high school someday, I'll take us back for an entire week. And if I get the next bonus I'm due for, my wife and I will definitely consider turning that memorable weekend into a retirement home, replete with shuffleboard and cocktail shrimp and all the other Santa Barbara lifestyle perks that once seemed so foreign to me.

About the author: Melissa Pierson is a self-made entrepreneur, a well known travel consultant and vacation home interior designer. Her specialities include Santa Barbara vacation rentals, luxury and budget vacation accomodations. She consults with tourists on the differences between local Santa Barbara vacation rentals, motel and hotel packages, and spa resorts.