For one of the best views of the Santa Barbara skyline and oceanfront, along with Channel Islands National Park
in the distance, head up into the foothills above downtown to tranquil Franceschi Park
(1510 Mission Ridge Rd.), an exquisitely landscaped 18-acre tract with picnic tables, a few parking spots, and footpaths leading to several wonderfully scenic - and romantic - viewpoints. In fact, just from the parking area the view is magnificent, as are many of the mansions on the surrounding hillside.
It can be a little tricky to find this park, as it's reached via a series of switchback lanes that rise up into a residential neighborhood. Here are directions and a map for reaching the park from State Street downtown. The park is just a couple of miles from town, about a 10-minute drive.