Named for its resemblance to the Mediterranean coast of France and Italy, the Riviera spans two miles from the Santa Barbara Mission to Montecito. It’s a beautiful place just to drive slowly or walk through, during the day to appreciate the attractive Spanish Revival and ranch-style houses and cottages (and some contemporary builds), and at night to look out over the lights of the city all the way to the water. People travel just to see this special stretch of homes, one of the wealthiest and most historic areas in Santa Barbara. Arriving, they find magnificent Italian masonry walls, steps, and hitching posts; a somewhat tropical appearance with lushly planted exotic species; and of course unsurpassed views.
This ridge is really quite aesthetically stunning; there aren’t even utility wires above ground to hinder its attractiveness and romance. The streets even have special and historic monikers, christened by padres at the neighboring Mission as Alameda Padre Serra (or “APS,” the main thoroughfare dividing the “upper” and “lower” Riviera), Jimeno, Ferrello, San Carlos, Oramas, Lasuen, Rubio, Paterna, and Arguello. El Encanto Hotel and the Riviera Theatre add to the allure and charm. Lots are arranged in such a way that no structure impairs the view of any other. About 700 homes in the upper Riviera boast particularly stunning views, while there are about 1,100 homes in the more densely populated lower Riviera. Whatever the home, it’s going to have charm, and it’s going to have remarkable vistas.