Riders pedal fast during the 2012 Amgen Bike Tour. Santa Barbara is ready for the 2013 event, which arrives in the city on Wednesday, May 15 and pushes off on Thursday, May 16. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
MAXIMIZING THE MOMENT: If ever there was a city that knows how to take something that's only happening over a few hours and run with it in a rather glorious and big-hearted fashion, it is Santa Barbara. Look to the royal visit of a few years past: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were set to visit for a polo match, but the multi-week run-up to that day, on the part of Santa Barbara, was grand. (Remember the charming video brimming with all the things the royals would like about the American Riviera?) Now the Central Coast stunner is showing all other places everywhere how it is done when a high-profile happening is due. The Amgen Bike Tour will arrive in the city on Wednesday, May 15 and push off again on Thursday, May 16, and both the pretty city and the surrounding communities are ready.
VERY READY: Let's start with the batch of good hotel deals that various properties have going. First off all, they extend beyond that one night of the Amgen ride, so that's sweet. Second? There is variety, from a wine emphasis for one to discounted rates for others. The list reveals that the majority of hotels and inns are jumping into the Amgen welcome, so, again: Santa Barbara is on this.
BUT IF YOU'RE NOT STAYING OVERNIGHT... There are still ways to enjoy ride-viewing around Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. A free and very informal viewing party near Los Olivos is set to happen along the route on Thursday, May 16, and a ticketed finish line viewing party on Wednesday, May 15 will have a Taste of Santa Barbara element. In short? The city is ready for its riders and all the fans. Even if you don't go, you have to be inspired by a place that knows how to make a few hours extra out-sized, which is in the Amgen spirit. (It is, after all, called "America's Greatest Race.")