Local Expert Tip
"Lush, tropical gardens surround the Courthouse, ideal for an afternoon picnic or some al fresco sketching. The famed Sunken Garden around the back of the building hosts weddings, festivals, and other get togethers year round. "
Things to Do In Santa Barbara
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Santa Barbara Travel Guide
Get Your Bearings in Santa Barbara
Where to Stay
Hotels in Santa Barbara run the gamut; you can reserve almost any type of overnight lodging, from convenient motels to intimate bed and breakfasts to lavish resorts, even camp sites! Weather here is typically mild, so an oceanfront hotel is a safe choice year round. If you're looking to stay near the hustle and bustle of downtown, keep in mind that State Street is actually a very long street and only part of it is easily walkable. Addresses above 1400 are more residential in nature.
Avoid: Booking at the last minute - especially during the summer.
What to Eat
Many of the area's best restaurants can be found on small side streets downtown. Wondering where to eat? Just ask a local. Santa Barbara takes great pride in the variety and availability of local produce and seafood. You're more likely to be directed somewhere fresh and unique than a chain. In fact, if you're looking for your favorite chain restaurant, you may need to look outside of downtown, toward upper State Street or Goleta.
Be Sure to Sample: The urchin! Santa Barbara provides much of the most sought after uni (urchin roe) in the world.
Things to See
Culture lovers will be impressed with the wide variety of museums within city limits. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Santa Barbara's many natural attractions, like white sand beaches and mountain trails. A warm Mediterranean climate ensures that most of these are accessible no matter when you visit. And, there's always Santa Barbara's wine country reputation. Walk the urban wine trail in the Funk Zone or take a day trip to Los Olivos.
Take It or Leave It: Santa Barbara loves a good parade. Check upcoming parade dates when planning your trip.
Places to Party
Santa Barbara nightlife is hard to describe. On the one hand, there are multiple colleges in town, so there are a lot of college students. Student nightlife starts late, around 11:00 PM, and is largely contained to two downtown blocks. On the other hand, the locals' relaxed beach lifestyle results in happy hours that start early, run late and are generally mellow. Restaurants stop serving pretty early, too. So pick your poison: loud clubs or the local bar scene. There's not much in between.
Hot Tips: Take a cab. There are about a million cab companies in town (very slight exaggeration), so there's no excuse to drink and drive.
Where to Shop
Santa Barbara is a shopper's paradise. State Street is packed with brand name stores, mid-size chains and specialty boutiques. There are two outdoor malls, Paseo Nuevo in downtown and La Cumbre on upper State Street. You can also get your retail fix in other neighborhoods. Ritzy Montecito is the place to go for designer fashions and home goods, whereas laid back Carpinteria is your stop for all things surf-related.
Caution: Park in one of the many inexpensive city lots downtown to avoid a parking ticket. Parking enforcement is fierce!
Santa Barbara Is Known for...
Five of Santa Barbara's most unique features and characteristics.Celebrities
What do Oprah, John Cleese, Drew Barrymore, and Justin Bieber have in common? They all have (not so humble) homes in sunny Santa Barbara. The rich and famous have long escaped the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles by driving up the coast to visit - or stay - in this more relaxed beach town. For one thing, it’s beautiful. For another, the locals don’t bat an eyelash when a star appears among them... unless that star cuts in front of us in line at La Super-rica!Beaches
Santa Barbara has earned a reputation as the “American Riveria” because of its Mediterranean climate and stretches of sandy shores. Publicly accessible white sand beaches run along the inviting coast, perfectly suited to almost every imaginable recreational activity - from bicycling to kiteboarding. Locals take full advantage of Santa Barbara’s most famous natural asset by using the shoreline to stage weddings, craft fairs, music festivals, and more. Each beach has its own personality; spend a lazy Sunday with the beautiful people at Butterfly Beach or try to catch some surf at Rincon.Wine
Our unique combination of ocean breezes, rolling foothills, and shallow valleys creates a haven of microclimates, responsible for one of the most...
Read the full list of five »