If you ask a Santa Barbara native to describe the place, he will say that Santa Barbara is "the spot along the California coast just far enough away from LA so you can no longer smell it." If you're in San Diego, you went in the wrong direction, and if you're unlucky he'll simply tell you to leave him alone because he's working on his tan.
Santa Barbara is the canonical vacation spot for Los Angelinos, who make the two-hour drive in droves during the summer months. It's a yuppie playground, with gorgeous beaches, a myriad selection of quaint shops and restaurants (particularly along State St., downtown) and numerous recreational activities. At the height of the tourist season, it has been estimated that cellular phones outnumber people by a 3-to-1 ratio.
The easiest way to get to this palm-tree-laden paradise is to step out of your front door, assuming you're lucky enough to live in Santa Barbara; for those of you who don't, it's a little bit more tricky. Santa Barbara has a very nice airport (SBA), but there are very few direct flights, and most of them originate from the two closest major international airports, San Jose (SJC) and Los Angeles (LAX). If you're already in California, you can also try driving to Santa Barbara. The city is located conveniently on the 101, about five hours south of San Jose or two hours north of Los Angeles.
The weather in Santa Barbara is perpetually 75 degrees Farenheit, sunny, with a light breeze blowing in from the ocean. This is true all year round, which might go some way to explaining the large number of tourists.
Things you definitely should see in Santa Barbara include the beaches, the mountains, the downtown area and the mission.