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4th of July celebrations on Santa Barbara beach - fireworks, rock bands and huge crowds

Santa Barbara July 4th to 6th

July 4th, Independence Day in the USA, was a traveling day for us – San Diego to Santa Barbara. That’s 220 miles (350 km) of freeways that took us through the centre of Los Angeles. We braved the freeways because we were expecting heavy traffic, especially on the more scenic coastal roads.

Despite dire warnings of holiday weekend gridlock, our trip was smooth and uneventful and we arrived in Santa Barbara with plenty of time to explore the main shopping drag – State Street.

Our promenade down State Street led us to the beach, a monster beach party, Stearns Wharf and 4th of July fireworks. We were expecting something big but this was one bigger than Ben Hur. The wharf and beach were packed and a rock band was in full swing when we sat down to eat and watch the fireworks. The fireworks were simply stunning.

Although Monday 5th was a holiday, it was back to marine things, at least in the morning. We met with Laura Francis for breakfast at a fabulous beachside café called Sambo’s. Laura works at the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and is NMEA’s first Sea ExChange applicant.

Sambo’s café on the foreshore at Santa Barbara,
our meeting and breakfast venue

Harry and one of the early manned submersibles
– Pioneer 1, used to explore the Channel Islands

Santa Barbara is an amazing place and the Channel Islands sound spectacular so for more details of Sea ExChange and Laura’s role go to the Sea ExChange link below. After breakfast we strolled up to Laura’s office and I found an early manned submersible on display. Simone and Jane found the bookshop.

The theme of breakfast at Sambo’s continued on Tuesday when we met Jenny Theodorou from the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. I have been visiting the Sea Center on Sterns Wharf since 1990 and it is one of my favorite attractions on the west coast. Currently the Center is undergoing a major redevelopment and is just an empty frame but the plans we discussed with Jenny were most exciting. The Sea Center opening early next year should be a grand affair.

Related web sites

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Sea ExChange

Santa Barbara Sea Center

The Santa Barbara Sea Life Center on Sterns
Wharf – currently being rebuilt

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