Santa Barbara County


Santa Barbara County, incorporated in 1850, officially the County of Santa Barbara, is a county located in the southern one-third of the state, but it is not considered part of Southern California. Santa Barbara County is part of the six counties that make up the Central Coast: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz. Ventura County tends to be included in the both Southern California and the Central Coast. The population of Santa Barbara County is approaching 480,000. Santa Barbara County, including the four northern Channel Islands, San Miguel Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara Island, and Santa Rosa Island were first occupied by the Chumash Indians, also known as the Chumash People, more than twelve thousand years ago, long before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico. The Spanish first contacted the Chumash People in 1542. The Presido of Santa Barbara was built in 1782 followed by the Mission Santa Barbara in 1786. Santa Barbara was one of the original 26 countries established when California became a state in 1850. The county was divided to create Ventura County in 1873. There are now 58 counties in California.

San Luis Obispo County is to the north, Kern County is to the northeast, Ventura County is to the east and southeast, and the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara Channel are to the south and west. The Santa Ynez Valley is located within Santa Barbara County. The Santa Ynez River flows through the valley to the Pacific Ocean at Surf Beach near Lompoc.

Cities in Santa Barbara County include:


Census-designated places in Santa Barbara County include:

  • Orcutt
  • Santa Ynez
  • Summerland
  • Toro Canyon
  • Vandenburg AFB
  • Vandenburg Village


Unincorporated areas:

  • Gaviota
  • Hope Ranch
  • Painted Cove
  • Surf


Hope Ranch

Hope Ranch is a small, highly affluent, beautiful unincorporated residential community, consisting of 773 lots on 1,863 acres, in Santa Barbara County. It is bounded on the north by Modoc Road, Hollister Avenue, and Vieja Drive. It is bounded on the east by the City of Santa Barbara, on the west by More Mesa, and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. The population of Hope Ranch is approximately 2,500. Residential roads are narrow and are crossed by many horse trails. A private road leads to a private beach.

Famous residents have included Fess Parker, H.R Haldeman, and Wendy McCaw. Hope Ranch is one of the wealthiest communities in California. Many of the homes have magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean.


Canalinos Indians

The Canalinos Indians were part of the Chumash nation and inhabited the area around Port Hueneme in Ventura County extending north and west into the Hope Ranch section of Santa Barbara County.


Vandenberg Village

Vandenberg Village is a census-designated place in Santa Barbara County approximately 5 miles north of Lompoc in the Lompoc Valley. The population is approximately 6,700. Many of the people living in the village are employed at nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base. Santa Maria is approximately 23 miles to the north, Solvang is about 23 miles to the southeast, and Santa Barbara is approximately 59 miles to the southeast.


Lake Cachuma

Lake Cachuma is a man-made lake or reservoir in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County that was created by the construction of Bradbury Dam on the Santa Ynez River in 1953. The reservoir covers 3,200 acres. The word Cachuma is derived from a Chumash village that once existed. Due to the fact that Lake Cachuma is a reservoir used for drinking water, human contact is not permitted on the lake. Small non-motorized boats are permitted and fishing is allowed. The lake is stocked with Rainbow trout. A large popular, campsite, which is operated by the Santa Barbara County Parks Department, is on the south shore of the lake and many trails are available for hiking and biking. The community of Santa Ynez is approximately 7.3 miles to the west of the dam, and Solvang is about 10.5 miles to the west.


Bradbury Dam - Cachuma Dam

Bradbury Dam, formerly named Cachuma Dam, is a 279 foot tall earth fill dam built on the Santa Ynez River in Santa Barbara County in 1953. Construction of the dam formed Lake Cachuma which is a reservoir that supplies Santa Barbara County with most of its drinking water.


Santa Barbara Municipal Airport

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, located within the City of Santa Barbara, is a public airport, with three runways, owned by the city and operated by the Santa Barbara Airport Department. The airport is located about seven miles west of downtown near the City of Goleta and the University of California, Santa Barbara. American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines provide non-stop flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Portland, and Seattle. The Los Angeles International Airport is approximately 105 miles to the southeast.


Santa Ynez Mountains

The Santa Ynez Mountains is an east-west mountain range in Santa Barbara County that extends eastward to northern Ventura County. The mountain range is contiguous with the Topatopa Mountains to the east and are primarily within the Los Padres National Forest. The highest point, which is unnamed, reaches 4,864 feet. Other mountain peaks are Divide Peak rising to 4,707 feet, Santa Ynez Peak rising to 4,298 feet, and La Cumbre Peak rising to 3,985 feet. The Santa Ynez Mountains run parallel to the Channel Islands which are to the south. The islands are an extension of the Santa Monica Mountains. The first people known to inhabit the Santa Ynez Mountains were the Chumash People, also known as the Chumash Indians, who settled in the area thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.


Sierra Madre Mountains

The Sierra Madre Mountains are a 25-mile long mountain rang in northern Santa Barbara County and northwestern Ventura County in Southern California. MacPherson Peak standing at 5,747 feet in elevation is located within the mountain range. Most of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range is within the Los Padres National Forest which is the northern boundary of the San Rafael Wilderness area. The Sierra Madre Mountains are an essential habitat for the endangered California Condor.


Cuyama River

The Cuyama River is a 118-mile long river that flows through San Luis Obispo County, northern Santa Barbara County and northern Ventura County. The river was named after the Chumash Indian village of Kuyam that once existed. The source of the river is the San Emigdio Mountains, within the Chumash Wilderness area of the Los Padres National Forest, at the confluence of Alamo Creek and Dry Canyon Creek. The mouth of the river is the Santa Maria River just east of the city of Santa Maria. Tributaries include Santa Barbara Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Mustang Creek, Pine Creek, Quatal Creek, and the Huasna River


Sisquoc River

The Sisquoc River is a 57.4 mile long river that flows to the west in northeastern Santa Barbara County. It is a tributary of the Santa Maria River which originates where the Sisquoc River meets the Cuyama River just north of the town of Gary. The source of the Sisquoc River are the northern slopes of Big Pine Mountain in the San Rafael Mountains and Los Padres National Forest. The mouth of the river is where it meets the Cuyama River. Sisquoc is a Chumash word meaning “quail”. The Chumash People inhabited the area along the Sisquoc River and Cuyama River for thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.


Sisquoc Falls

The Sisquoc Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Southern California standing at 250 feet. The water plunges off the edge into a long and deep pool of water with many smaller cascades occurring both above and below the main drop. Sisquoc Falls, located in the San Rafael Mountains of Santa Barbara County, are difficult to access, requiring nearly a twenty mile one way hike from the nearest road. The falls are located inside the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary in the remote San Rafael Wilderness on Falls Canyon Creek, a tributary of the Sisquoc River. Consequently, the falls are off-limits to the public, making it necessary to view the falls from a distance.


Dick Smith Wilderness

The Dick Smith Wilderness is a wilderness area, established in 1984, in the Los Padres National Forest which is in both Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. It is adjacent to the San Rafael Wilderness which is to the west and the Matillija Wilderness which is to the south. The Sespe Wilderness is to the east and Ojai is to the southwest. The Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary is to the northwest and the Sespe Condor Sanctuary is to the southeast. Madulce Peak, which stands at 6,541 feet, is the highest peak. Wildlife in the Dick Smith Wilderness includes mountain lions, coyotes, black bears, and California Condors.


Vandenberg Air Force Base

Vandenberg Air Force Base, developed in 1941, is a United States Air Force base located approximately 19.8 miles northwest of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County. Orcutt is approximately 12.7 miles to the northeast. Vandenberg AFB is a Department of Defense space and missile testing base that launches satellites. The base supports nearly 20,000 people composed of military, family members, government contractors, and civilian employees. A majority of the 20,000 live in Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Orcutt, and Santa Ynez.


El Capitan State Beach

El Capitan State Beach is a protected beach governed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The beautiful beach and campground is located about twenty miles west of downtown Santa Barbara near Goleta. The beach and coastal bluffs are well-known for the fact that thousands of Monarch Butterflies gather at El Capitan every autumn to begin the breeding process.


Santa Barbara Real Estate

Homes in Santa Barbara consist of both single family detached homes and attached homes that may be townhomes or stacked condominiums. Prices range from moderate to high depending upon the neighborhood. Our real estate agents and brokers can show you any homes listed for sale with any real estate brokerage firm.


Santa Barbara Land

If you would like to see or acquire land in Santa Barbara or in the surrounding areas, please contact an agent in our land division. We have land specialists that can help you buy or sell land anywhere in California.


Santa Barbara Horse Property

If you want to buy or sell equestrian zoned property in or near Santa Barbara, please contact us. We have several real estate agents with extensive experience representing buyers and sellers of horse properties.