Santa Maria lies between the ranges of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Known for its western flair and friendly spirit, Santa Maria's history is grounded in the Old West and agriculture. Recently, the valley has been influenced by oil and gas exploration and Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is the area's largest employer.
Santa Maria is located in Santa Barbara County just south of San Luis Obispo between Arroyo Grande and Santa Barbara along US Highway 101 on the banks of the Cuyama River near the Twitchell Reservoir and the Pacific Ocean.
Santa Maria is part of the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc metro area.