Gay Santa Barbara
Red tiled roofs, Spanish Revival architecture, and a quintessential charm all contribute to the character of Gay Santa Barbara. Famously sitting on the longest stretch of south-facing coastline in the West Coast, the area has near-perfect weather year round. The Mediterranean climate and gorgeous scenery; along with its resemblance to towns along the French and Italian coastlines have made the city well known as “The American Riviera.” The moniker also belays its vacation-destination status. Early in the 20th century, Santa Barbara was a prime resort locale that Hollywood’s elite would escape to. Some of their lavish vacation homes can still be found in the mountainous/foothill neighborhood known appropriately as “the Riviera” and along select regions of the coast. Nearby Montecito is famously home to a bevy of celebrity abodes, including those of Oprah, Rob Lowe, Drew Barrymore, and Christopher Lloyd.
Because of its tourism industry early on, Gay Santa Barbara developed many outlets for visitors to spend their time. State Street, bisecting downtown, is the main commercial hub of the city, providing copious shopping and dining opportunities as well as a thriving nightlife scene. The historic Mission Santa Barbara, its gardens, and the nearby natural history museum and botanical gardens are significant stops on a visit to the region.
While not entirely conservative in nature, the resident attitude definitely has a hint of propriety. City ordinances that restrict drive-thrus, billboards, and outdoor advertising, among others, effectively contribute to an air of affluence and exclusivity that might make some gay visitors feel like outsiders. However there is a gay presence in town, and you are able to walk down State Street holding hands without eliciting gawks or disparaging language from the locals—you’re still in southern California after all. The touristy nature of the city also makes it more understanding of different people and cultures—they may just assume you’re European! There’s even a gay club in town, and though it’s only gay on Sunday nights, Katy Perry has been known to pop in when she’s touring in the area. The Pacific Pride Foundation also hosts the annual Pacific Pride Festival celebration so there is a visible gay presence in this classy, coastal community.
The Gay Scene in Santa Barbara
Our travel information shows that there is no gay neighborhood in Santa Barbara, though there are establishments that are gay-friendly. If you’re looking to get into some hot gay nightlife, consider taking the 90-minute drive south into Los Angeles, where the gay scene really pops off.