Santa Barbara is located about 90 miles (145 km) WNW of Los Angeles, along the Pacific coast. This stretch of coast along southern Santa Barbara County is sometimes referred to as “The American Riviera”, presumably because its geography and climate are similar to that of areas along the northern Mediterranean Sea coast (especially in southern France) known as the Riviera.
The Santa Ynez Mountains, an east–west trending range, rise dramatically behind the city, with several peaks exceeding 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Covered with chaparral and sandstone outcrops, they make a scenic backdrop to the town. Sometimes, perhaps once every three years, snow falls on the mountains, but it rarely stays for more than a few days. Nearer to town, directly east and adjacent to Mission Santa Barbara, is an east-west ridge known locally as “the Riviera,” traversed by a road called “Alameda Padre Serra” (shortened APS, which translates to “Father Serra’s pathway”).