Lompoc is a really great and lesser-known place in Santa Barbara county, located about halfway between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. It is one of those places in California that is both wonderful to live in and to visit. When I lived there for a couple years after attending UC Santa Barbara, I was happy I could still enjoy many outdoor recreational activities like riding my bike, hiking on trails with great views, and going to the beach. I liked that Lompoc was less expensive to live in than Santa Barbara. Even though it is not as well-known as Santa Barbara, I think it offers the resident the same quality of life overall.
My favorite beach and area in Lompoc are Jalama Beach and Jalama Beach County Park. Jalama Beach is very long and it takes more than an hour to walk the whole stretch of beach. The beach is beautiful with dramatic and rocky cliffs, and it is often not as crowded as other beaches in the area. Even with the cliffs, there are still plenty of good sandy spots on the beach to relax, picnic, or read a good book. You do drive on a windy road to get there, but once you are there it's peaceful yet with all of the amenities you need - a good amount of parking, restrooms, and even delicious Jalama Beach Burgers for sale. Don't be surprised if you see seals lounging on the rocks as well. There are also cabins there for the overnight visitor!
Lompoc also has a great Old Town that doesn't feel extremely touristy. This is where you will find the historical attractions of Lompoc like the Andrew L. Huyck House, a pioneer family's victorian house from the late 1880s that was originally dragged into town by 30 horses. The Lompoc Museum is also located there. My favorite coffee shop there is South Side Coffee, where many of the locals hang out and there are often paintings and photography by local artists on the wall. Their house coffee is one of my favorite coffees anywhere, and the sandwiches and cafe food are very good too. Lompoc overall has a great hometown atmosphere that is good for families, students, and young adults alike. The only drawback is there is not the job base like there is if you are living closer to LA or San Francisco, but I think this is true of much of the Central Coast. There are still jobs if you find your niche there or work in the tourist industry.