Santa Barbara is located at the central California coast it is also known as a coastal city situated on a south-facing section of coastline. From the Spanish-Moorish architecture to the dreamy beaches and surrounding wine regions. Santa Barbara is an ideal weekend gateway or year-round sunny vacation. Santa Barbara has much more to offer, from art and culture to outdoor recreation, unbeatable food and wine scene with hundreds of restaurants to choose as well as dozens of vibrant events. Santa barbara and city’s excellent museums, coming face-to-face with wild animals at the zoo, shopping in the palm-lined malls along state street watching humpback whales leap from the ocean, and exploring some of the scenic hiking trails. With numerous Santa barbara attractions and numerous places to visit that brim with exciting activities. 

There is no other place such as Santa Barbara, it is home now to infamous Capwell family of the long-running soap opera, “Santa Barbara”. Santa Barbara itself a readily identifiable by its red-roofed Spanish-Mediterranean style buildings. There is a fine list of beaches to choose from when the time is right, including east beach, west beach and to the south, Carpinteria state beach.

So what are you waiting for? let’s discover the very best things to do in Santa Barbara.

Best Things To do in Santa Barbara

Head To Old Mission Santa Barbara:

Head To Old Mission Santa Barbara

The mission is the namesake of the city Also known as the “Queen of the Missions,” the mission ground span more than 13 acres. The mission is only one with two bell towers and is also unique for its stone facade. Tours here include the Scared Garden, historic cemetery, still functioning church and nine rooms of mission-era artifacts. Referred to as “Queen of the Missions” for grateful beauty, the old mission Santa Barbara is the tenth of 21 missions built in California. All of the best restaurants, shops, nightlife, and historic sites. many of them feature original fireplaces, sitting balconies with expensive views. Travelers say the mission is a must-see for history buffs and call it a beautiful place to visit. The mission is open daily for self-guided tours

  • Famous For: Churches/Religious Sites, Museums, Sightseeing 
  • Tickets: Adults(age 18-64): $12.00, Senior(age 65 & over): $10.00, Active Military w/ID: $10.00, Youth:(ages 5-17): $7.00, Children (age 4 & under): Free
  • Time to spend: 1 to 2 hours
  • Visiting Hours: 9 a.m.-4:15 or 5:15 p.m. daily

Relax On Beach – East Beach

Relax On Beach - East Beach

Here you will find three major beaches in Santa Barbara: Leadbetter, West, and East. While Leadbetter has the harbor and West Beach is a beloved home to the fireworks on the Fourth of July, East Beach is the best stretch to catch some rays without being stabbed by crowds. The shoreline may still fill up more on the weekends to make it wonderful, but East Beach is a bit more faraway from State Street and the downtown area offering exclusively unlike the other beaches, offering more space to stretch out or take a walk along the sandy shores. You may also need to protect yourself from the occasional rogue volleyball though, as there are more than a dozen sandy courts here. 

  • Famous For: Beaches, Recreation, Free, Neighborhood/Area
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Time To Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
  • Visiting Hours: 24/7 daily

Take Whale Watching Tours

Take Whale Watching Tours

Santa Barbara is a fantastic spot to whale watch because the Santa Barbara Channel’s nutrient-rich water is a popular feeding ground for several types of whales. From late spring through early fall, there are regular sightings of humpback whales and blue whales. Minke whales, fin whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, coastal bottlenose dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins, are also often seen. From late November through April, thousands of Pacific grey whales migrate through the channel heading south to the warm water lagoons of Baja California. On their return in the spring, gray whales – most notable mothers with newborn calves – travel along the coastline heading to their summer home in the Bering Strait. While you can sometimes spot the magnificent mammals from land, the best way to get a closer look is from the water. There are plenty of options for boat tours. Condor Express earns high marks from recent passengers, who said the boat is comfortable and describes the trip as educational. The 15-passenger Sunset Kidd sailboat offers a more intimate outing and wins favorable reviews from travelers who call it a relaxing trip. Companies recommended by the tourism board may include Captain Jack’s, Celebration Cruises and Double Dolphin.

  • Famous For: Sightseeing, Tours 
  • Entry Fee: Tickets vary by company. Ticket prices can also vary from $25 to $100.
  • Time To Spend: 2 hours to Half Day 
  • Visiting Hours: Tour times vary by company. Tour lengths can vary by company. Some tours span 2 1/2 hours, while others last more than four hours.

Visit Santa Barbara Zoo

Visit Santa Barbara Zoo

By Arnoldus13 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Surrounding from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge in the east part of downtown, the Santa Barbara Zoo gives visitors a taste of the exotic just a block from the sandy shore. Current visitants said the small zoo packs a lot of entertaining creatures into a clean, well-designed property. The zoo also features attractions like a 26-foot rock climbing wall and the animal kitchen where visitors can observe animal food preparation. Permanent residents of the zoo include anteaters, leopards, gorillas and penguins. But the biggest celebrities here are the native California condors and endangered Amur leopards. Though the zoo’s being small in size, many visitors praise the diversity of the animals. Many also reported visiting for more than just the creatures and praised the live stage shows, the play area, and the barnyard. Others were pleased with the facility’s manageable size, saying it was perfect for small children.

  • Famous For: Parks and Gardens, Zoos and Aquariums 
  • Entry Fee: Admission costs $18 for adults and $11 for children ages 2 to 12. There are additional costs for parking, the zoo train, the carousel and feeding animals like giraffes and sheep. 
  • Time To Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
  • Visiting Hours: The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 or 5 p.m. every day, depending on the season.

Explore Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Explore Santa Barbara County Courthouse

By Konrad Summers from Santa Clarita (Valencia) , California, USA – Santa Barbara – West Wing, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Most travelers scoff at the idea of visiting a courthouse while on vacation. Really dry and boring, right? Wrong. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse epitomizes the Spanish-Moorish architecture that is found across the city. Established in 1929, the complex impresses visitors with its intricate tile mosaics, colorful gardens and jaw-dropping view of the city and ocean below. Just stop if you are willing to take a peek into the clock tower in the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery, to see the impressive clock, which still works. Surrounding the clock is an impressive 60-foot mural depicting the history of timekeeping.

  • Famous For: Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Tours
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Time To Spend: 1 to 2 hours 
  • Visiting Hours: It is only open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Shop At State Street

Shop At State Street

State Street is counted as Santa Barbara’s most famous avenue, State Street cuts through downtown and leads right onto Stearns Wharf. Santa Barbara is super easy to walk around and ideal if you fancy a bit of shopping. They have everything from glamorous chain stores to creative boutiques and old bookstores. State Street is the main high street where you’ll also find Paseo Nuevo, an outdoor, fountain-filled mall. You can cherish a ride on the electric shuttle for 50 cents, but most travelers and locals recommend you walk to truly appreciate the ambiance. Spending your best hours at shopping, you can slide into a chair at one of the dozens of local restaurants to refuel. State Street is collectively known as the heart of Santa Barbara, and the experience exploring the shops and dining outdoors reminds them of European open-air markets. However, some do caution that while most of the street features upscale stores, you should be mindful of the growing homeless population that is known to panhandle on parts of the street. 

  • Famous For: Cafes, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Time To Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
  • Visiting Hours: 24/7 daily

Visit The Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Visit The Santa Barbara Museum of Art

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is home to some high culture into this laid-back Californian community. It is home to more than 27,000 works of art, including “Portrait of Mexico Today, 1932,” the only intact mural in the United States by David Alfaro Siqueiros. The museum was discovered in 1941, house of permanent collections of American, European and Asian art, including sculptures, paintings, prints and ceramics, and prides itself on the diversity of its exhibits. The museum generally offers docent-led tours on selected days of the week.  

  • Famous For: Museums
  • Entry Fee: Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids ages 6 to 17, seniors and students with ID. From 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, admission is free.
  • Time To Spend: The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
  • Visiting Hours: 1 to 2 hours 

Relish The Beauty Of El Presidio de Santa Barbara

Relish The Beauty Of El Presidio de Santa Barbara

Originally built in 1782, the park is home to 17 buildings and sites built around a quadrangle known as the Plaza de Armas. Visitors can learn about the Chumash Native Americans who settled the land more than 13,500 years ago and the Spanish colonization of the land. The park also includes an exhibit on the history of Asian immigration to the Santa Barbara region. The nearly 6-acre state historic park consists of restored buildings that make up the last Spanish military settlement built in northern California. The grounds include two of the original sections of the presidio, Mexican-period and American-period adobes, and other reconstructed buildings like the chapel and bell tower, as well as the findings from archaeological excavations of the sight.

  • Famous For: Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums
  • Entry Fee: Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors, children younger than 16 are admitted for free. 
  • Time To Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
  • Visiting Hours: Located just two blocks east of State Street, the park is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Go To The Beach County Park- Arroyo Burr

Go To The Beach County Park- Arroyo Burr

Popularly known as Hendry’s Beach by locals who love to walk their dogs here, Arroyo Burro Beach is a pretty stretch of sand with plenty of options for outdoor fun. You can take sunbathe, swim, surf, whale watch, surf fish and or enjoy a picnic and take advantage of on-site grills. You will not able to stop yourself admiring the beauty and serenity of the area, with many calling the park “wonderful” and “relaxing.” If you get hungry, the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach is a popular spot for dining and happy hour drinks. The park, located 5 miles west of Santa Barbara, is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. You can reach the park via car or the MTD bus, which stops right outside the park’s entrance. 

  • Famous For: Parks and Gardens, Recreation
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Time To Spend: 1 to 2 hours
  • Visiting Hours: 8 a.m.-sunset daily

Trendy Funk Zone Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is located just next to the harbor, offers plenty of diversions, including restaurants, a shellfish market, a bait and tackle shop, shops, a Channels Islands exhibit hall and a marine museum, not to mention great panoramas. Constructed in 1872, it became the longest deep-water Wharf between San Pedro and San Francisco and is the oldest working wooden wharf in California.

  • Famous For: Shopping, Sightseeing, Free
  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Time To Spend: 1 to 2 hours
  • Visiting Hours: 24/7 daily

Traverse Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

North of downtown is the 78-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, a refuge for bored beachgoers and nature enthusiasts will go gaga. Visitors walk on unpaved paths through what, at times, looks like an unremarkable brush. However, what you see here is carefully designed. The garden is committed to protecting plants unique to central California’s coastal region – indifferent to their individual beauty. And it’s this diversity, which differentiates this botanical park from others.

Sparkle points of the garden include the historic Mission Dam and aqueduct built-in 1807, an authentic Japanese teahouse and tea garden and a redwood grove. In all, there are almost 6 miles of paths to explore and more than 1,000 types of plants. Recent visitors praised the peace to be found in the garden, calling it a great place to recharge. Others recommended the attraction if you enjoy walking trails and warned that this is not your typical, landscaped botanic garden.

  • Famous For: Parks and Gardens, Recreation
  • Entry Fee: Admission costs $14 for adults and $8 for children ages 3 to 17, with discounts for seniors and students available.
  • Time To Spend: 1 to 2 hours
  • Visiting Hours: The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November to February and until 6 p.m. the rest of the year. Guided tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the weekends and 2 p.m. on Mondays and included with admission.

Spend Your Time At Ganna Walska Lotusland

Spend Your Time At Ganna Walska Lotusland

Well, let’s explore Ganna Walska Lotusland popularly known as Lotusland is a valuable botanical garden situated in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, California, United States and if you love the nature you’ll definitely love this land. The garden is a beautiful historic region of Madame Ganna Walska. Lotusland is the beloved home of Polish opera singer Ganna Walska, she spent 40 years transforming her 37-acre estate into a garden wonderland. Upon her death in 1984, she left it to her foundation, which opened it to the public in 1993. The gardens are home to more than 3,000 plants from all over the world, including its namesake lotus flowers. You’ll see bromeliad and fern gardens, cactus and succulent gardens, a Japanese garden, an aloe garden, and whimsical statuary. Spot an amazing 25-foot round horticultural clock featuring the signs of the zodiac and a collection of rare cycads, an unusual plant genus that has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Isn’t it fascinating

  • Famous For: Parks and Gardens, Recreation
  • Entry Fee: Tickets cost $50 for adults and $25 for children ages 3 to 17. 
  • Time To Spend: 2 hours to Half Day
  • Visiting Hours: Seasonal guided tours only, tours are offered Wednesday through Saturday at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and must be booked in advance.

Click Panoramas At- The Chromatic Gate

If you love to take selfies and you are a fan of voluptuous panoramas then the chromatic gate is one of the best places for you. An imposing rainbow sculpture is next to East Beach and you’re assured to see lots of other Instagrammers and selfie lovers jumping, walking or dancing their way through. 

Go hiking

Santa Barbara city is a wonderful land, but for truly magnificent spectacle take a step towards some of its great surroundings. A recommended and mostly done by visitors is a hike is to Inspiration Point, which has fabulous views across the coastline. The round trip is 3.5 miles, starting at Tunnel Trail, or you can go for a longer option, starting at Jesusita Trail. These trails are steep in parts. You have multiple options one of them is a Rocky Pine Ridge where the photo above was taken. 

Enjoy A Play At The Lobero

The Lobero is one of the oldest theatres in California and another of the city’s architectural icons. It hosts both community and professional shows. Before leaving for Loberso check out the programs and consult if there’s anything that catches your eye during your trip. You also have another good place to watch a show in the city is the Santa Barbara Bowl.

Ride Bikes – Coastline

Santa Barbara is a perfect place for a bike ride, especially along the coastline where you can cycle along the palm-lined Cabrillo Boulevard while enjoying views of the ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains. This is truly a great sport to spend your amazing time.

Take A Wine Country Tour

Although you have multiple options to taste Santa Barbara’s wines within the city, But visiting some of the vineyards is another level experience. The Santa Ynez Valley is only about 45 minutes outside the city and offers all the rolling hills, gourmet food and charming towns that you’d expect from a premier wine country. You can have the most amazing and cherishable time whiling taking a wine tour and also some delicious cupcake tours.

Conclusion

Santa Barbara is nicknamed the American Riviera, and honestly, it’s gorgeous. Apparently, Oprah has a house there, and also Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, and the list goes on. From the Spanish-Moorish architecture to the dreamy beaches and surrounding wine regions, Santa Barbara is ideal for a weekend getaway or year-round sunny vacation. And there are plenty of options for everyone and every budget when creating a Santa Barbara itinerary. With the amazing list of to-do things this article has it all and of course, this place is must visit in 2020. Comment below and let us know what are your plans to make your vacation at Santa Barbara once in a lifetime experience?

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