Even with its suburban feel, Santa Maria is known for mouth-watering tri-tip barbecue-it's among the top draws of the city. The barbecue roots date back to the mid-19th century when rancheros, meaning ranch hands, would prepare Spanish-style barbecue. Once known as a discarded piece of meat, the tri-tip cut was seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, and then grilled over red oak coals. The specialty grew in popularity, eventually becoming a characteristic trait of Santa Maria and rightfully earning the often-stated title of "Barbecue Capital of the World." It's an attraction that draws many visitors from around the country. Drop by any barbecue restaurant or take in the lingering smells in the air from the backyard cookouts-barbecue pretty much defines this coastal California town.

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Want to take in the sweeping views of wine country or drive a short distance to world-class beaches? In Santa Maria, California, you don't have to pick and choose. Located along California's central coast, this town of roughly 100,000 people is nestled in Santa Barbara County, a region widely considered among the most desirable places to live in California. With its Mediterranean-like weather, family-friendly appeal and affordable cost of living compared to urban areas in California, it's no wonder why many make Santa Maria their home.

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