Santa Maria CA

Santa Maria CA is home to approximately 100,000 residents and can be found in the southern part of the state. The city’s more specific location in northwestern Santa Barbara County puts it about 60 miles from the city of Santa Barbara and 150 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Among other things, Santa Maria is known for its wine industry and its style of barbecue. These aren’t the only reasons to visit, however. The city and the surrounding Central Coast region offer numerous attractions and activity options, the likes of which can satisfy a wide variety of interests.


Santa maria, California
Santa maria, California

The area that Santa Maria CA calls home is commonly referred to as the Santa Maria Valley. As is true of much of California, this area was inhabited by Chumash Native Americans for thousands of years. In 1769, a Spanish expedition passed through the Santa Maria Valley. Not long thereafter, two Spanish missions were built in the region – Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and Mission La Purisma Concepcion. The former can be found just north of the Santa Maria Valley, while the latter lies to the south near the present day city of Lompoc. After the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), the mission lands in the Santa Maria Valley became part of a Mexican land grant. They remained as such until California was ceded to the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). By 1875, a town had been established on the site of what is now the city of Santa Maria. It was known as Grangerville and then Central City before becoming Santa Maria in 1885. The discovery of oil in the region in the late 1800s and early 1900s is largely to thank for the eventual growth of Santa Maria CA. Agriculture is just one more example of a major regional industry. The agricultural areas that surround Santa Maria are actually some of California’s most productive. 


Wineries  Image: Mel Felix / Visit Santa Maria

The Santa Maria Valley has made quite a name for itself in the world of wine. Lending to the quality of its grapes are such things as complex soil conditions and a diverse array of microclimates. The valley is also known to have one of California’s longest growing seasons, thanks in part to its rather rare east-west orientation. A number of varietals are produced in the region, with examples including Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay. Many wineries throughout Santa Barbara County and beyond use Santa Maria Valley grapes, and the area in general is a fantastic place to go for wine tours. When Santa Maria visitors aren’t out taking tours at the area wineries, they can treat themselves to wine tasting experiences at the city’s local restaurants. Several of these restaurants, it should be noted, also specialize in Santa Maria Style Barbecue.


No visit to Santa Maria CA would arguably be complete without sampling some Santa Maria Style Barbecue. This renowned regional culinary tradition is based around the use of native ingredients and cooking methods. Tri-tip beef steaks are the main cuts of meat that are used for Santa Maria Style Barbecue, and common seasonings include black pepper, salt, and garlic salt. After the meat is seasoned, it is grilled over the coals of native Coast Live Oak, or Red Oak, as the wood is also known. Popular side dishes include salsa, pinquito beans, salad, and grilled French bread that has been dipped in melted sweet butter. When a break from wine tours and barbecue dining is in order, other ways to stay busy during a visit to the Santa Maria Valley include visiting the nearby missions, taking in a local theater production, hiking in the nearby Los Padres National Forest, hitting the regional beaches, and teeing it up at the area golf courses. Santa Maria Valley travel packages that include such activities are often available, so it can be a good idea to do a travel package search when planning your visit.

Santa Maria CA Hotels

Santa Maria CA Hotels
Santa Maria CA Hotels

The city of Santa Maria is home to a number of chain brand hotels and motels that offer a lot in the way of quality and overall value. Examples include, but are not limited to, the Best Western Plus Big America, the Candlewood Suites Santa Maria, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Santa Maria, the Radisson Hotel Santa Maria (pictured), and the Travelodge Santa Maria. Travelers who are interested in the local hotels are also encouraged to consider the rather elegant Santa Maria Inn. Outside of Santa Maria proper, even more hotels and motels await, with an example being the Edgewater Inn & Suites in nearby Pismo Beach. Should camping be the preferred lodging choice, the Santa Maria Pines Campground can be a good place to start. Also worth considering are the campsites in the Los Padres National Forest. 

Top image: Marcy Lariz / Visit Santa Maria
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