Santa Maria



Located 168 mi/270 km north of Los Angeles, Santa Maria, California, is famous for its traditional style of barbecue. Check out the Barbecue Hall of Fame at the local historical society museum.

Santa Maria also hosts one of the West's best repertory theater programs, the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, which is headquartered at the local community college. Performances are offered in both Santa Maria and Solvang. Phone 805-928-7731. Box office 805-922-8313.

A fascinating site just west of Santa Maria is the approximately 22,000-acre/8,900-hectare Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Preserve. The first thing visitors see at the preserve is a massive dune that covers the remains of Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 movie set for The Ten Commandments—a dozen 4-ton plaster sphinxes, four statues of Ramses the Great and an entire Hollywood-style Egyptian city. There have been plans to excavate the set, but so far no digging is under way. Phone 805-343-2455.

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