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Santa Maria

Trip Planner USA  /  California  /  Santa Maria
(4.1/5 based on 400+ reviews for top 10 attractions)
Things to do: wineries, nightlife, trails
Santa Maria is a city on the California Central Coast in Santa Barbara County. It is approximately northwest of Los Angeles (city limits). Its estimated 2014 population was 103,410, making it the most populous city in the county and the Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA Metro Area. The city is notable for its wine industry and Santa Maria-style barbecue. Sunset magazine called Santa Maria "The West’s Best BBQ Town”.HistoryThe Santa Maria Valley, stretching from the Santa Lucia Mountains toward the Pacific Ocean, was the homeland of the Chumash people for several thousand years. The Native Americans made their homes on the slopes of the surrounding hills among the oaks, on the banks of the Santa Maria River among the sycamores, and along the coast. They had unique plank-built boats, called Tomol, which they used for ocean fishing.In 1769, the Portolà Expedition passed through the Santa Maria Valley during the first Spanish land exploration up the coast of Las Californias Province. Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was established just north of the valley in 1772, and Mission La Purísima Concepción was established near present-day Lompoc in 1787. Rather than rich soil, white settlers were attracted here by the possibility of free land. In 1821, after the Mexican War of Independence, the mission lands in Santa Maria Valley were made available for private ownership under a Mexican land grant called Rancho Punta de Laguna. At the end of the Mexican War in 1848, California was ceded to the United States.
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