If you've travelled widely in Europe, and taken in the sights of the French Riviera and the Mediterranean, why not try the area sometimes described as the American Riviera, California's Santa Barbara. The climate of this West Coast city is virtually Mediterranean, and the combination of fine weather, incredible beaches and the Spanish-style architecture make this a brilliant family friendly holiday destination for a relaxing break. To get the most out of a trip to Santa Barbara, consider looking into holiday rentals, with a wide range of properties both up in the montains and down towards the beach, you can save yourself a small fortune on hotel bills, and also get to relax in your very own Spanish-influenced home for the duration of your stay.
Obviously the beaches will almost certainly be one of your first stops on a Santa Barbara holiday. In addition to the sunbathing and relaxing, Santa Barbara is a haven for surfers, and you can either hit the waves unaided or seek some expert tuition according to your experience and confidence. Beaches such as East Beach, famous for its volleyball, can easily form the centrepiece of a holiday in the area. But with an International Film Festival in January, and a Summer Solstice Festival in the middle of the year, Santa Barbara has a lot more to offer than simple sun, sand and surf. It's a popular home for artists, and museums and galleries like the Santa Barbara Museum of Art have impressive collections. The Mission Santa Barbara is also an impressive landmark and still an active place of worship, and directly behind it is the fantastic Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. A little further out, you can also go hiking in the unsettlingly-named Rattlesnake Canyon, or visit the Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park. With its sandstone caves covered with drawings by the Chumash people, some of which are thought to be up to 1,000 years old, the caves give a real sense of history to this very modern tourist hotspot.
You can find holiday rentals to suit every budget in the Santa Barbara area, however prices tend to start at just under £1,000 a week for a condo or beach rental big enough for a family of four or more. Some of these have views of both the ocean and the mountains, which should cut down on arguments over who gets the best room! It's also great for kids as they can run around and let off steam without worrying about disturbing neighbouring guests.