The Mesa, from the Spanish for “table,” is Santa Barbara’s elevated section of land stretching from Arroyo Burro (Hendry’s Beach) to West Beach. While one of the oldest historical areas in the city, having been inhabited largely by Chumash Indians, paradoxically it is one of our youngest residential districts. The main road, Cliff Dr, stretches along the entirety of the Mesa.
Around 1919 a short stint of poor quality crude oil production took place on the Mesa, centralizing around what is now the marine terrace and west coastal neighborhoods. The last oil well was capped in 1971, as farming eventually took over. Most of this area was not fully developed until after World War II when veterans built homes with the help of GI loans. Originally the Santa Barbara Airport was to be built on the Mesa however the oil booms erupted before the escrow had been closed.
Offering a warm sense of community, the neighborhoods are filled with charming cottages, family-filled beach homes and hillside view properties.
Several parks and beaches border the Mesa providing the ideal place to bike ride or picnic. The Douglas Family Reserve, known to the locals as “The Wilcox Property,” is the perfect place to dog walk and enjoy the incredible sunsets high atop the Pacific Ocean.
Summer festivals bring thousands of spectators to Shoreline Park where the Harbor’s Parade of Lights can be seen as well as the Fourth of July firework display. The Santa Barbara International Marathon runs along Shoreline as does Nite Moves, a fun weekly triathlon held from May until August. Several other parks can be found on the Mesa.
La Mesa Park, Elings Park and Escondido Park are all kid friendly as is the “Art on the Mesa” summer series. This event allows neighbors and visitors to check out local vendor’s services while enjoying each other’s company and live music. Three elementary schools can be found within the vicinity making this one of the most family oriented neighborhoods in Santa Barbara.
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