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Enjoyable issues to do in Santa Barbara [2022]


I’ve typically mentioned Santa Barbara is the prettiest metropolis in the USA, and I suppose till I see each one of many 19,000+ cities in America, I’m sticking to it. (I do have a mushy spot for New Orleans too although!)

The structure, the mountains, stunning seashores, the local weather, the wine – Santa Barbara actually is a metropolis that has all of it and even in per week right here, you wouldn’t handle to get via this complete checklist.

However when you’re searching for nice concepts for among the finest issues to do in Santa Barbara, learn on…

It’s an important place to come back for a weekend away when you’re primarily based in Los Angeles or San Francisco – or make it your standalone California trip.

On this publish, I’ll reveal one of the best issues that may make you need to e book a ticket to Santa Barbara this 12 months. Let’s get began!

Sunflower on State Street
Sunflower on State Road. Pic by Karna Hughes

Take a look at downtown Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has one of many cutest little downtown districts in Southern California. That’s why it’s earned my award for prettiest metropolis!

The structure is extremely pleasant to pedestrians, so strolling round to the entire eating places and retailers is straightforward to do.

The buildings are all modeled within the Spanish mission fashion to honor the legacy that helped construct and develop the world.

Chess in downtown Santa Barbara

One thing you possibly can’t miss when visiting downtown Santa Barbara is the State Road Promenade Market. It takes place each Thursday between 3:00pm and seven:30pm.

There are tons of distributors out that promote all kinds of artisanal items. One place you must cease at is Menchaca Sweets. They’ve acquired among the most scrumptious chocolate that I’ve ever had at a farmers’ market, arms down!

Dining at Opal on State Street
Eating at Opal on State Road. Pic by Andreina Diaz

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree!

A visit to Santa Barbara simply wouldn’t be full with a selfie in entrance of the sprawling roots of the oldest Moreton Bay Fig Tree in the USA.

The 120-year previous tree was planted in 1877 by Adeline Crabb, from a seed her good friend had acquired from an Australian sailor a few years earlier and who had planted it close by. Adeline replanted it the place it’s right now and it was formally designated it a “tree of notable historic curiosity” in 1970 and is positioned close to Stearn’s Wharf, adjoining to the Amtrak Station, 209 State Road.

The cover stretches over 170 ft and the reasonable Santa Barbara local weather should agree with it, as a result of this previous woman continues to be going robust.

The famous Moreton Bay Fig Tree
The well-known Moreton Bay Fig Tree. Pic Cecilia Rosell / Courtesy of Go to Santa Barbara

Go to the weekly Arts and Crafts Present

Rain, hail or shine the Arts and Crafts Present goes on! Each Sunday (and Saturdays of main vacation weekends) on the waterfront from 10am till 6pm you possibly can come and browse advantageous arts and modern items from native artists and artisans.

Positioned ocean aspect of W. Cabrillo Blvd between State St and Calle Cesar Chavez.

Lease e-bikes

You may e book a bunch tour on an e-bike to see one of the best of Santa Barbara with a information, or simply head alongside and hire e-bikes for 2 hours or the entire day.

You may seize a map and discover by yourself from the downtown space, alongside the large seaside dotted with palm timber, via the Funk Zone (the place you must cease and eat – extra data beneath), as much as the Mission and extra.

E bike tour
Take an e-bike tour. Pic by Cal Coast Adventures

Do the City Wine Path

Transfer over Napa Valley, there’s one other wonderful wine tasting expertise in California! The City Wine Path exposes you to among the finest wine tasting experiences you’ll find within the state.

With over 20 wineries to go to, you’ll positively need to unfold your expertise over a couple of days. 

One factor that makes the wine path enjoyable to navigate is that it’s divided up into neighborhoods. Every neighborhood is shade coded on the map to make it straightforward to see which of them you’ve coated and which of them you continue to want to find!

A good suggestion to get probably the most bang to your buck is to affix the City Wine Path membership. When you be a part of, you get a free tasting at every of the wineries alongside the path while you first go to each. Plus, you additionally will get a ten% low cost on something you buy on the primary day that you simply go to each!

Go to iconic Stearns Wharf

Inbuilt 1872, the two,300 foot lengthy Stearns Wharf grew to become the longest wharf between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the present day, it’s the oldest working wood wharf in all the state of California!

The most important drawback you’ll have when visiting Stearns Wharf is selecting what to do. You’ll discover all types of eating places for scrumptious meals. There’s nothing fairly like chowing down on among the freshest seafood round on the Harbor Restaurant as you are taking within the view of the Pacific Ocean.

Stearn's Wharf Santa Barbara
Stearns Wharf. Pic Chris Bell

And when you’re executed along with your meal, take a trip on the water taxi that embarks proper from the wharf. You’ll board Lil’ Toots and get handled to a 25-minute lengthy boat trip across the harbor.

As you cruise round, one in every of Lil’ Toots’ skilled guides will inform you on the marine life in addition to the historical past of the world to make the historical past come alive.

Santa Barbara Zoo

A vastly well-liked place to take the household is the Santa Barbara Zoo. The areas that greater than 140 totally different species stay in are thoughtfully designed to imitate the pure habitat of every animal group.

You’ll see every part from the elusive snow leopard to the ginormous western lowland gorillas. 

There are additionally loads of alternatives to seize a chew to eat at any one of many many eating places and meals carts. Or, for these 21 and older, seize an grownup beverage like beer and wine!

Running past giraffes at Santa Barbara Zoo
Working previous giraffes at Santa Barbara Zoo. Pic Blake Bronstad, Courtesy of Go to Santa Barbara

Reservations are required to enter the zoo, so make sure to plan forward. For these visiting with youngsters beneath 2, you don’t want to fret about getting a reservation to your little ones. Anybody older than 2 will want a reserved spot.

Santa Ynez Mountains

As I discussed above, top-of-the-line issues about visiting Southern California is the geographic and organic range.

Positioned simply 40 minutes away from downtown Santa Barbara are the gorgeous Santa Ynez Mountains. 

Probably the greatest trails to hike on within the Santa Ynez Mountains is the Lover’s Loop by way of the Grass Mountain Path.

This four-mile hike will take you thru quite a lot of foliage like purple chaparral and coastal sage scrub together with a spectacular array of wildflowers. Plan on bringing loads of water for this one and attempt to get on the path early within the day as it might probably get fairly scorching, particularly through the summer season.

The Santa Ynez Valley is residence to an important wine area and you’ll examine among the scrumptious wines I tasted on a Santa Barbara vineyard tour on this publish.

Santa Barbara Harbor

A typical theme is that there’s a lot to do! Santa Barbara Harbor holds true to this as effectively.

Take a stroll alongside the marina to view stunning boats moored alongside the dock and absorb among the most improbable views in Southern California.

Cease by any one of many retailers alongside the waterfront to seize a memento or a scrumptious meal. And, when you’re seeking to get out on the water, there are tons of actions to get pleasure from!

Santa Barbara Harbor
Santa Barbara Harbor. Pic by Blake Bronstad

Santa Barbara Harbor hosts all kinds of out of doors leisure alternatives. You will discover tons of retailers that supply kayak, stand-up paddle board, and snorkeling leases to get an up-close view of the marine life, or simply go for a stroll.

You may also constitution a scuba expertise to tour the depths of the harbor. And when you’re into fishing, there are a number of corporations that may take you out to go deep sea fishing.

Whale Watching

One of the crucial astounding experiences you possibly can have while you go to Santa Barbara is to go whale watching.

The Santa Barbara channel has among the most nutrient dense areas round, making it a super place for all types of marine life to stay.

The very best time to go whale watching is between November and April. That is when the Pacific gray whales migrate via the world heading south to Baja, Mexico.

Condor Categorical assure whale sightings 12 months spherical in Santa Barbara. They’ve seen humpback whales and even the most important mammal on Earth, the Blue Whale within the space.

Maintain an eye fixed out for dolphins too, they love swimming alongside your boat and are an actual deal with to see. 

Whale breaching
Photograph courtesy of Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Santa Barbara Museum of Pure Historical past

Seeking to deepen your understanding of some of the biodiverse areas on this planet? Then you definitely completely should cease by the Santa Barbara Museum of Pure Historical past!

This wonderful museum will take you on a journey of the wealthy pure historical past of the world. You’ll study how a lot the world has modified within the final a number of hundreds of thousands of years and uncover how dynamic the land actually is. 

Santa Barbara Museum of Artwork

Positioned in downtown Santa Barbara the SBMA homes artwork spanning 4000 years overlaying Asian, American and Europe historical to fashionable artwork. The constructing itself is a relic, it was initially the Santa Barbara Put up Workplace (from 1914 to 1932).

In the present day it’s a powerful 60,000sq ft together with a number of galleries, a library containing 50,000 books, an auditorium for occasions, a restaurant and reward store.

You’ll discover the works of Degas, Picasso, Rothko, Van Gogh, in addition to historical Greek, Roman and Chinese language sculptures and antiquities. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Artwork. Pic courtesy of SBMA

Courthouse Sunken Backyard

One of the crucial stunning locations to go to in Santa Barbara is the Courthouse Sunken Backyard.

The backyard surrounds the previous courthouse and is residence to among the most attractive flowers you’ll discover in Southern California. Excursions can be found day by day promptly at 2 PM.

Don’t neglect to enter the Santa Barbara County Courthouse as effectively! This Spanish Colonial Revival fashion constructing was completed in 1926 and positioned on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations in 1982.

The arches, tiles, and gates all reveal a excessive diploma of expertise that may go away you in awe of how a lot effort went into creating a very outstanding constructing. Plus, you possibly can stroll as much as the highest of the clock tower to get a spectacular panoramic view of Santa Barbara beneath!

Previous Mission Santa Barbara

Make a journey again in time by visiting the Santa Barbara Mission.

This stunning church has served as a religious heart ever since its building in 1786 by the Spanish and continues to host Catholic companies right now. Exterior of the sanctuary, you’ll discover quite a lot of interpretive sights to study extra concerning the wealthy historical past across the mission itself.

A can’t miss cease is the Mission Museum. Right here, you’ll be capable of view thoughtfully made reveals showcasing the work that friars put into making this a communal heart for generations. 

The beautiful Old Mission
The attractive Previous Mission. Pic courtesy of Go to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Botanic Backyard

This 78-acre backyard focuses completely on California-native crops. Planted in 1926, Santa Barbara Botanic Backyard has devoted almost a century of labor to higher understanding the connection between crops and folks.

Put on your trainers as a result of there are 5 miles of straightforward strolling trails criss-crossing the botanical gardens for a leisurely stroll previous big redwoods, cacti and delightful flowers, plus nice views of the Santa Ynez mountains that wrap across the metropolis.

Walking among the redwoods at Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens
Strolling among the many redwoods at Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. Pic courtesy Go to Santa Barbara

Go horseback using

If you happen to love horses, then you definitely’ll love a beautiful morning trip alongside seashores and tree-lined trails, or sundown trip alongside Santa Barbara’s stunning shoreline.

Los Padres Outfitters enables you to design the itinerary you’d like on a non-public tour that fits all ranges of riders on their horses and mules. Or when you’re a real cowboy/woman you are able to do a multi-day trip.

Dine within the Funk Zone

The right place to eat is the Funk Zone neighbourhood, positioned in a 3 block radius between the freeway (101) and the seaside in downtown Santa Barbara.

It was remodeled from the “funky” smelling fish warehouses into a cool space adorned with murals and stuffed with wine tasting rooms and eating places… award-winning eating places.

Funk Zone Santa Barbara
We acquired out of the Uber right here with the mountains behind us

Our concierge instructed we attempt The Lark and as luck would have it our Uber dropped us off simply throughout the street (we hadn’t requested him to take us any the place particular preferring to take a look round first.)

We had been really fortunate we acquired into The Lark with out a reserving and loved their well-known shared plates and copied what our neighbors had been consuming – and really helpful – as their plates seemed scrumptious!

Assume crispy fried brussel sprouts with medjool dates, chilli and lime. We additionally had a fish dish that our new associates had eaten and cherished with lobster roe, fingerling potatoes and asparagus. Superb! And “from the ranch” we had the pork rillettes which was a smoked pork stomach and ham hock terrine fashion of dip in a jar served with crispy focaccia bread.

Funk Zone shop Santa Barbara
We adopted our noses and stumbled upon The Lark to the left of this constructing

After we went to pay our invoice, our neighbors – who had passed by now – had paid for our drinks and starters with out saying a phrase! The Lark was recognised per week later with a Plate award within the Michelin Information.

You’ll discover a lot of nice locations to eat and drink in downtown Santa Barbara, so don’t fear an excessive amount of in case your first selection is booked out.

For extra concepts take a look at these high really helpful Santa Barbara eating places.

Funk Zone to the sea view in Santa Barbara
I simply love this picture wanting all the way in which to the pier within the distance, with the brand new fashionable buildings on the appropriate and the funky warehouses nonetheless on the left.

The subsequent evening we felt like Mexican and had a scrumptious meal at Santo Mezcal, again within the Funk Zone, however this time on the newly remodeled ocean finish of State Road.

They do a improbable cocktail and the meals was good, however The Lark was nonetheless my favorite!

Take a look at this checklist of Santa Barbara’s Michelin Star eating places.

Beautiful Santa Barbara Harbor boats
Stunning Santa Barbara Harbor. Pic Jay Sinclair

Santa Barbara continues to be the prettiest metropolis in California, when you ask me. And it’s an exquisite place for a trip with the right mix of actions that may go well with nearly anybody.

From the picturesque views from the Santa Ynez Mountains to the wonderful wine tasting alternatives, buying, mountaineering, historical past and tradition, there’s certain to be one thing that you simply love about this wonderful little city. So, the one query now could be what’s going to you do first?! 

Santa Barbara is my suggestion for a 2-night cease when you’re doing the Pacific Coast Freeway drive between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Right here’s my itinerary for that epic street journey, which features a free downloadable itinerary to print out.

I’ve coated 10 nice California seashores for tenting on this publish, which you may additionally like.



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