best things to do in Santa Barbara
Beach & Bay

39 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

(Last Updated On: April 9, 2021)

No matter whether or not you’re a seashore particular person, you’ll by no means be at a loss for what to do in Santa Barbara. There are some very best things to do in Santa Barbara.

State Road is ideal for a stroll and the realm’s mountaineering can’t be overwhelmed—plus, there’s a bunch of wonderful restaurants to attempt, and an excellent vary of hotels for these trying to cease for some time. So what are you ready for? Uncover the easiest issues to do in Santa Barbara proper right here.

Best things to do in Santa Barbara

1. Previous Mission Santa Barbara

The late 18th-century Previous Mission Santa Barbara gave extra than simply its identity to town. You possibly can see its lush courtyard, tiled roof and shaded arches mirrored in buildings throughout Santa Barbara.

However, the mission is an exquisite, historic vacation spot by itself, with a solemn cemetery and chapel in addition to an exhibition about its building and life inside its partitions.

2. Inspiration Level

Hike to Inspiration Level for the type of breathtaking pure encounter that can clear your thoughts.

There are two methods to get to Inspiration Level, an exquisite outlook overlooking Santa Barbara’s shoreline and the Channel Islands within the distance.

The shorter choice begins at Tunnel Path and can make for a couple of 3.5-mile hike roundtrip.

It begins on a straightforward paved highway for a couple of miles however then makes its strategy to a path that’s steep in elements.

The opposite choice is beginning at Jesusita Path, which can also be steep in elements and stretches about 7 miles.

3. Santa Barbara Botanic Backyard

If you’re the kind of one that finds peace in nature, the Santa Barbara Botanical Backyard needs to be in your itinerary.

This backyard, which focuses on California native crops, is in contrast to any we’ve been to earlier than.

Even the Redwood Part, the place redwood timber has been planted starting in 1930, seems to be as if the timber is organically rising there. All through the mile-long walkway, there are many spots for guests to take a seat and mirror.

4. Lotusland

Polish opera singer and backyard fanatic Ganna Walska constructed up the tropical and subtropical gardens at Lotusland over 4 many years.

Right now, you may discover the multiculturally themed gardens with two-hour guided excursions that’ll take you through every little thing from a silvery-blue forest to a prehistoric-looking cycad backyard.

5. Santa Barbara Museum of Artwork

State Road’s Santa Barbara Museum of Artwork only recently started a large five-year renovation and enlargement mission, which has significantly lower down on the works on show.

However what’s there—a mixture of rotation exhibitions and highlights of the everlasting assortment heavy on Impressionism and Southern California abstraction—continues to be price exploring, particularly because the museum has halved its admission charges within the meantime.

best things to do in Santa Barbara
6. Stearns Wharf

If you’re looking for recent seafood, head to Stearns Wharf within the early morning hours to attend for the fishing boats to unload their catch.

You should buy straight from the boats and take your fish residence with you on ice—it’s cheaper, more energizing and far more enjoyable.

Though the pier (residence to California’s oldest working wharf) affords wine tasting, a contact aquarium for teenagers and plenty of buying and eating choices, keep away from it after mid-morning—it tends to turn out to be a little bit of a vacationer lure because the day goes on.

7. Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse: the one time you really wish to spend a day at court docket.

The Spanish-Moorish construction is putting from the within, however, step beneath its spacious archway and also you’ll end up inside one of the crucial lovely authorities buildings within the nation, interval.

Take the elevator or stairs to the highest of the “El Mirador” clock tower for sweeping views of Santa Barbara—ensure that to cease by the historic, sublimely painted Mural Room on the second ground.

8. Santa Barbara Zoo

A tangle of trails weaves via the attractive grounds of the Santa Barbara Zoo. Equal elements open inexperienced houses and plush animal habitats, the zoo is teeming with conservation info and close-up views of creatures like elephants, lions, leopards, and giraffes—test on the entrance to see each day’s feeding schedule for the long-necked mammals.

9. Santa Barbara Museum of Pure Historical past

The compact halls of the Santa Barbara Museum of Pure Historical past lend themselves nicely to pint-sized patrons, from a kid-sized cavern to an out of doors playground.

Adults, although, ought to get pleasure from a stroll across the campus’s Mission Revival buildings unfold alongside a wooded creek.

The small Sea Middle at Stearns Wharf, then again, is an all-ages winner, with shark- and anemone-filled contact tanks and an analysis heart with biologically-rich muck straight from the seafloor under.

10. Hit the seaside

Wedged between the mountains and the ocean, Santa Barbara is a pure paradise and a visit to the seaside is a should. Lined with palm bushes and subsequent to Stearns Wharf is West Seaside, a laid-back spot, widespread with volleyballers, and a hop-on level for sailboats and kayaks.

Butterfly Seaside in Montecito is a sheltered and fairly choice away from the town center crowds. And Leadbetter Seaside is one other widespread place for kayaking, lengthy boarding, and stand-up paddleboarders.

11. Go kayaking

Santa Barbara is a dream spot for kayaking, with scenic bays, seashores, and the Channel Islands Nationwide Park. It’s a tranquil option to expertise the great thing about the coast and perhaps even spot some whales!

The distant North Nation seashores are a few of the greatest choices for kayaking, or you might paddle within the space around Stearns Wharf.

We didn’t go to the Channel Islands Nationwide Park, but it sure looks beautiful and is an identified spot for a few of the world’s greatest coastal kayaking. There are some excursions to select from beneath.

12. Sundown from Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is certainly one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks, and for us, it was the proper place for a sundown stroll.

There are a couple of eating places and cafes, which appeared fairly touristy, however, could value it for the views. They’re principally serving seafood.

13. Take in the California surf life

Santa Barbara has a few of the greatest surf in California, suiting everybody from newcomers as much as professionals.

Gaviota and Jalama are the locations to go for knowledgeable surfers, however when you’re simply starting, Refugio State Seaside is a good choice.

And there are many locations providing surf classes and board leases. If you’re in California and into the surf, you may also like our submit on the perfect issues to do in Santa Cruz.

14. Strive SUP

Extra my model is stand-up paddleboarding or SUP. You would possibly even have the corporate of dolphins!
Issues to do in Santa Barbara: City Wine Path

15. Comply with the City Wine Path

One of our favorite experiences in Santa Barbara was a day spent wandering the town, following the City Wine Path.

There are over 20 wineries serving wines from Santa’s Barbara’s seven wine areas. Nearly all of the wineries are within the Funk Zone, however, there’s additionally one on the finish of Stearns Wharf, which is an effective place to finish the day for sundown.

The Funk Zone additionally has some good craft breweries when you fancy a change from wine.

16. Discover the stylish Funk Zone and all its avenue artwork

In addition to being dwelling to many wineries, the Funk Zone is valued a go-to in its personal proper. It’s dwelling to a plethora of cafes, galleries, inventive boutiques, and plenty of wonderful avenue artwork.

Lots of the buildings are transformed warehouses with murals on the partitions. One of many trendiest wineries is Municipal Winemakers (nicknamed Membership Superior).

17. Head to glam Montecito

Residence to the wealthy and well-known is trendy Montecito, an upmarket a part of the city with a classy however laidback vibe – the place when you do see a celeb, they’ll extra doubtless be decked in flip flops fairly than heels.

It’s value going for a stroll by way of the village and to go to Oliver’s (our favorite restaurant in Santa Barbara if not California). Montecito can also be dwelling to a few of Santa Barbara’s most lovely shoreline, together with the gorgeous Butterfly Seaside.

18. Get a therapeutic massage at Float Spa

I spent a blissful afternoon at Float Spa the place I had an A+ therapeutic massage after which relaxed of their tranquil little backyard. As a brand new mum, it was the last word kid-free deal with.
Issues to do in Santa Barbara: Lotus Land

19. Go to Lotusland

An enormous purpose I’ve to return to Santa Barbara is to go to Lotusland, a 37-acre property in Montecito owned by the late Ganna Walska, an opera singer and socialite.

The backyard seems unbelievable – it’s often called one of many world’s greatest – and is made up of the 25 distinctly designed gardens, all with completely different themes, and crammed with all types of uncommon and grand plants.

The New York Occasions mentioned: “For Walska, crops had been greater than crops; they had been colors to color with, a household to nurture, characters to direct.”

It’s important to guide a personal tour to view the backyard and none had been obtainable after we had been there, so make sure you guide prematurely!

20. Discover the botanic gardens

If you happen to miss out on Lotusland, you’ll be able to nonetheless go to the spectacular Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, that are open daily.

The 78-acre gardens have 5 miles of strolling trails and sweeping views of each the coast and the mountains. All of the crops are native to California, so you’ll be able to see the wealthy variety the state offers rise to. And don’t miss the genuine Japanese teahouse.

21. Get a snap on the Chromatic Gate

If you’re in search of an ideal Instagram then the chromatic gate is for you.

This imposing rainbow sculpture is subsequent to East Seaside and also you’re certain to see a lot of different Instagrammers leaping, strolling or dancing their method by way of.

One other good Instagram spot is the tiled stairs within the Paseo Nuevo procuring center.

22. Go to Outdated Mission Santa Barbara

The candy-colored pink and white Mission is thought to be one of the crucial lovely buildings of its form in California and, with the mountains because of it backdrop, it actually makes a reasonable image.

We didn’t go inside because it was Otis’ nap time, however, you are able to do a self-guided tour from 9am-4:15pm.

23. Store, store, store

Santa Barbara is tremendously straightforward to stroll round and superb when you fancy a little bit of procuring.

They have got the whole lot from glamorous chain shops to inventive boutiques and previous bookstores. State Road is the primary excessive avenue the place you’ll additionally discover Paseo Nuevo, an outside, fountain-filled mall.

24. Go whale watching

The Santa Barbara Channel is certainly one of California’s greatest locations for whale watching. Pacific gray whales migrate by way of from November to April, and you can too spot humpbacks, blue whales, mike whales, and fin whales.

25. Go to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse

For an additional architectural gem in Santa Barbara, go to the County Courthouse, which is lauded as one of many USA’s most lovely authorities buildings.

In becoming with the native model, the Spanish-Moorish constructing typifies Santa Barbara’s architectural class. You possibly can climb the clock tower to get pleasure from sweeping views of the town.

26. Take the children to MOXI

If you’re traveling with kids, then MOXI, a revolutionary hands-on science museum is a should.

You are able to do issues like construct your individual race automobile, play a large guitar, or design one thing with the 3D printer. It’s appropriate for all ages, however, they host toddler mornings on Tuesdays, so little ones can discover at their very own tempo.

Different good choices for teenagers are the Nationwide Maritime Museum within the harbor, the Santa Barbara Museum of Pure Historical past, and the Santa Barbara Zoo.

27. Go to the Santa Barbara Museum of Artwork

There is a selection of small galleries all through Santa Barbara, however for the largest assortment head to the Santa Barbara Museum of Artwork, which has over 27,000 items in its everlasting assortment, that includes superb artwork from throughout the globe.

The gallery contains a mixture of completely different media, and options the whole lot from 19th-Century French artwork to modern installations. Admission is free on Thursdays.

28. Go mountain climbing

Santa Barbara metropolis itself is gorgeous, however, for really spectacular surroundings head to a few of its surroundings.

A preferred hike is to Inspiration Level, which has fabulous views throughout the shoreline.

The spherical journey is 3.5 miles, beginning at Tunnel Path, or you’ll be able to go fro an extended choice, beginning at Jesusita Path.

Each trails are steep in components. Another choice is Rocky Pine Ridge the place the picture above was taken. You possibly can learn particulars about getting there right here.

29. Catch a play on the Lobero

The Lobero is likely one of the oldest theatres in California and one other of the town’s architectural icons. It hosts each group {and professional} exhibits.

Try the program and see if there’s something that catches your eye throughout your journey. Or one other good place to look at a present within the metropolis is the Santa Barbara Bowl

30. Trip bikes alongside the shoreline

Santa Barbara is an ideal place for a motorbike experience, particularly alongside the shoreline the place you’ll be able to cycle alongside the palm-lined Cabrillo Boulevard whereas having fun with views of the ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains.

31. Take a day journey to wine nation

Though you’ll be able to strive lots of Santa Barbara’s wines inside the metropolis, there’s nothing fairly like heading to the supply and visiting a few of the vineyards (like we did in Sonoma).

The Santa Ynez Valley is simply about 45 minutes outdoors the town and gives all of the rolling hills, gourmand meals and charming cities that you’d anticipate from a premiere wine nation. You possibly can even do a cupcake and wine tour!

32. Airstream Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has an excellent collection of Airbnbs, from hippy abodes to luxurious homes. To make your alternative simpler, we’ve curated a listing of the 17 greatest Santa Barbara Airbnbs.

33. The place to remain in Santa Barbara: Kimpton Goodland

There are additionally some wonderful lodges. We stayed on the Kimpton Goodland*, which is in Goleta, an space on the outskirts, about 10-minutes drive from the town center.

It was certainly one of my favorite lodges from our time in California, completely styled and properly priced for the standard.

Kimpton is well-known for creating lodges that mirror the character of the native space, and in Sant Barbara, they’ve created a hipster surf-chic vibe in a transformed roadside motel.

There’s an airstream on the garden, a vinyl concierge for the in-room file gamers and a weekly program of socials within the lodge bar, together with S’Mores nights, poolside yoga, and trivia nights.

34. Oliver’s

Oliver’s was one of the crucial stand-out meals we ate in California. Situated within the fancy Montecito, the restaurant has a classy terrace, lit by fairy lights, and the entire place has a casual, however superb eating environment.

The menu gives ingenious vegetarian fare with a great line of small vegetable-forward plates.

We had been large followers of the not possible burger, and in addition the cauliflower bucatini. And the workers had been fantastic with Otis – he was fully besotted with them.

35. Funk Zone wineries

Santa Barbara wine nation is made up of seven areas (5 official, and two unofficial), which had been made well-known by the movie Sideways.

An excellent day journey can be to go to a few of the wineries on the supply, however, if you wish to keep native, the Funk Zone is the place to go.

It’s the house of the majority of the City Wine Path – a self-guided tour of over 20 tasting rooms. I significantly favored the Valley Undertaking, which has a photogenic hand-drawn map of all Santa Barbara’s wine areas, plus DV8 the place I did a wine and cupcake pairing (you’ll be able to think about how a lot I liked that!).

36. Yard Bowls

For a wholesome breakfast, head to one of many Yard Bowls branches throughout the town. They specialize in large acai bowls and are a basic (and fairly priced) option to begin a Santa Barbara day.

37. Paradice shave ice Santa Barbara

On a sunny day, there’s not significantly better than a cone of shaved ice, and Paradice Shave Ice has a rainbow of pure flavors.

38. Pressed Juicery

Near Paradice Shave, Ice is Pressed Juicery which in addition to juices, additionally serves some an ice cream various fabricated from dates, almonds, and cacao.

39. Honey B

This hidden plant-based cafe, Honey B, is housed in a college construction, so, like us, you would possibly end up sitting outdoors a seminar and getting a little bit peak in scholar life.

For extra meal suggestions, see this information for the perfect meals in Santa Barbara.

Learn how to get around Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a simply walkable metropolis with all the primary sights located in a three-mile radius of downtown, and there are additionally a lot of public transport choices too.

The town is understood for being eco-friendly and has a car-free program that encourages you to stroll by offering helpful strolling maps and particulars of all the choice transportation choices within the metropolis.

Alternate options to automobiles embody the MTD bus community, and the MTD waterfront and downtown shuttles.

It’s additionally a great place to discover by bike. That mentioned, because the journey was a part of our large California highway journey, we had a car and located it straightforward to park within the downtown space.

Santa Barbara is an effective choice for a brief break from L.A. The drive takes around 1.5 hours. If you’re heading to L.A. too, right here’s a piece of helpful information to 100 issues to do in Los Angeles.

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