Add to Your Christmas List: Best Holiday Attractions in Santa Barbara

Heading to Santa Barbara for the holidays? Lucky you! This coastal California beach town gets extra festive during the Christmas season with parades, live performances and much, much more. 

If you're looking for lights, you can book a ride on the Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights to scope out the best houses in a variety of neighborhoods. Or plan a DIY tour and drive yourself around. The one place you absolutely must visit is known around these parts as The Miracle on East Quinientos Street. The private residence is so bright that you might want to bring sunglasses!

Visitors who like live performances will be thrilled to know they can catch the Nutcracker Ballet at either the Granada Theatre or the Arlington Theatre. Both of these historic venues are stunning and there are amazing restaurants right nearby.  

For family fun, look no further than the brand new ice rink in Goleta. Ice in Paradise is an indoor rink with a casual restaurant onsite. It's a good place to take a lesson, catch a hockey game or even see a holiday ice show. 

This list of the 10 best holiday attractions in Santa Barbara will even get Scrooge in the Christmas spirit. So get out those jingle bells and get going!

Dating from 1782, this military compound is the only extant one of four that the Spanish built in the area. Locus of government and military activities, the presidio was in use until the mid-19th century. In 1963, an historic preservation group...  Read More

Casa del Herrero

Completed in 1925, this gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival home is the collaboration of owners George and Carrie Steedman and a coterie of designers, architects and horticulturists. Painstakingly conceived, built and furnished, the estate is a...  Read More

Santa Barbara
La Arcada
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

Don't miss the annual La Arcada Christmas Walk! Enjoy strolling carolers, freshly popped popcorn and a visit from Santa at this quaint, character-filled shopping venue that's as good for relaxing as it is for shopping. Marked by a multi-faced,...  Read More

Catch the Nutcracker Ballet at the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara's most splendid and impressive performing arts venue, boasting over 1,500 seats, multiple patron lounges and a custom orchestra shell. Originally built in 1924, the theater...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Arlington Theatre

Don't miss your chance to see the annual performance of the Nutcracker Ballet with a live symphony orchestra at this beautiful Santa Barbara theater. Crowned by a grand tower and a red tile roof, the Arlington is a gem of Spanish Revival...  Read More

Travel the sights of Santa Barbara in one of Santa Barbara Trolley's nostalgic, open-air trolley cars. Offering 90-minute, fully-narrated tours, Santa Barbara Trolley is a fun and affordable excursion that packs in a lot of local color. Tour...  Read More

Nothing says Santa Barbara like, surf, sun and... ice skating?!? Yep, after many years of waiting, Santa Barbara now has it's very own ice rink for sport and leisure. Head out to Goleta with the whole family for a little fun on the ice. It's a...  Read More

For the best Christmas lights in Santa Barbara, look no further than this house on Santa Barbara's east side. Local Peter Estrada layers on the twinkles at this private residence that draws a crowd from far and wide. We feel sorry for the other...  Read More

What's better than a parade? A boat parade! And what's better than a boat parade? A boat parade with lights and fireworks! The annual Santa Barbara Parade of lights boasts all of this and more. Join the locals for this Santa Barbara holiday...  Read More

What can be more magical than a twinkling, sparkling holiday parade just a few blocks from the sea? Head to downtown Santa Barbara during the week after Thanksgiving to catch this festive happening on a Friday night. Beautifully lit floats and...  Read More


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva

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