Winter might be the best time to visit beautiful Santa Barbara

  • A Winter View of Santa Barbara

    The winter months often bring crystal clear skies to Southern California, resulting in unforgettable vistas. The perfect vantage point for an incomparable (and free) 360 degree view of Santa Barbara is from the bell tower of the city's Spanish Revival Santa Barbara County Courthouse.  Take the elevator (or stairs) to the tower's romantic observation deck and prepare to be amazed. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Explore Mission Santa Barbara

    There's no doubt the jewel in Santa Barbara's crown is its historic Mission. Founded in 1786, the Old Mission Santa Barbara remains one of the most visited attractions in the city today. The winter months not only bring reduced crowds when visiting this historical site, but plenty of photo opportunities when the winter sun casts its magical glow on the building and gardens.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Bike for Miles Past the American Riviera

    You’ll see bikes everywhere in Santa Barbara, especially on the designated path along the picturesque, expansive waterfront. Bikes are available to rent at many locations in town, and there are biking trails of all levels in and around the city for the visitor to enjoy.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Raise a Glass to an Emerging Craft Brew Scene

    While Santa Barbara is famous for its wineries, its craft brew scene is on the rise, with more than a dozen breweries and taprooms in the city and nearby Goleta. Third Window Brewing Co. is housed in the popular Mill complex in the city's trendy SoCo neighborhood. The brewery has won accolades for its use of local ingredients, from Twenty-Four Blackbirds cocoa nibs to foraged loquats and orange blossoms growing on site. After enjoying a pour, head over to the bustling Funk Zone for one of the fastest-growing craft brewers in the U.S.: Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Golden Cliffs Dot Santa Barbara's Coastline

    It’s hard to tire of miles of white sandy beaches and azure blue waters, but just a mile south of the waterfront you’ll find majestic cliffs tumbling into the churning seas. Some of Santa Barbara’s most famous neighborhoods are situated above these cliffs, such as the classic village of Montecito, home to Oprah Winfrey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, among many other national and international celebrities.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • The Spirit of 17th Century Spain

    Santa Barbara was born in 1602, when explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno survived a huge storm on the eve of Saint Barbara’s feast day and lived to name the channel and an island in her honor. The Spaniards returned 167 years later, and the rest is history. A walk through the streets of downtown will take you past historic sites such as the Casa de la Guerra and other buildings that reflect the indelible mark Spain left on Santa Barbara. It's a rare and fascinating glimpse back in time that you'll only find in a few U.S. cities.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • A Foodie Paradise

    Santa Barbara boasts an exceptional foodie scene, no doubt owing to its proximity to the bountiful seafood, free range meats and fresh vegetables that are available year-round in this garden paradise. An excellent example of a perfect culinary combination of these ingredients can be found on the eclectic menu of Santa Barbara’s renowned Opal Restaurant on State Street. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Santa Barbara's Bustling Harbor is Right up the Road

    Don’t miss a visit to Santa Barbara’s picturesque harbor, which not only affords spectacular views over the marina to the city, but also offers plenty of water-based activities. Rent a boat, kayak, SUP or jet ski, take a whale watching excursion or try your hand at scuba diving. Or just sit back and enjoy a meal with a marina view in one of several restaurants lining the docks. Located just a mile up the road from the pier, the harbor is easily accessible by car. Or take the convenient shuttle that services downtown and the waterfront.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Santa Barbara Shopping: It's in the Bag

    Santa Barbara offers a shopping experience for just about any taste and budget. A walk up the city’s downtown thoroughfare, State Street, will take you past a wide variety of mainstream shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Along the way, you'll want to stroll through pedestrian friendly enclaves and plazas, many of them featuring romantic Spanish Colonial architecture. The picturesque Paseo Nuevo is one of these spots where you can relax over a meal, sip a drink and shop for well-known brands in its many stores.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Seaside Stroll

    A walk down Santa Barbara’s breakwater promenade brings amazing delights. Breathe in the pure sea air, delight to the many pelicans that fly in formation overhead, see the waves break and crash on the rocks and watch playful dolphins frolic in the waves. Best of all, release your daily tensions and revitalize your body and spirit.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • A Photographer's Dream

    Winter lighting is the friend of both amateur and professional photographers, and the shadows that fall on Santa Barbara’s icons can make for spectacular photo opportunities. Santa Barbara’s venerable Stearns Wharf, built in 1872, remains a beloved photo subject to this day.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • All in the Family

    Santa Barbara is a perfect destination for families, where kids of all ages have plenty of ways to play. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, where you can admire the animals against spectacular ocean views. Or let your little ones touch sharks and watch jelly fish at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. Kids can bike along the beach, build a sandcastle or enjoy splashing in the hotel pool while mom and dad soak in some winter sun rays at the family-friendly West Beach Inn

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Follow the Urban Wine Trail

    The heart of Santa Barbara wine country lies in the Santa Ynez Valley, a mere 45-minute drive from the city. If you don’t have the time to visit this picturesque area for a wine tasting tour, the next best thing is to grab a tasting pass and sip your way through the 29 wineries that make up the renowned Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Pedal Power

    You'll see folks in bike surreys up and down the waterfront, and no wonder. It's a great way to feel the joy of cruising along Santa Barbara's colorful waterfront for those too young or old to feel comfortable on a two-wheeled bike. It's also a perfect activity for multi-generational families. Wheel Fun Rentals can set you up with a variety of wheeled and other fun options, and it's conveniently located right on the waterfront.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Explore Santa Barbara's Maritime History

    Santa Barbara is home to a plethora of outstanding museums, including the Maritime Museum which is a treasure-trove of information about the fascinating maritime history of Santa Barbara. The museum houses the 160-year-old Point Conception lighthouse lens, first lit on February 1, 1856.
    Insider tip: Take the elevator to the rooftop veranda for a breathtaking view over Santa Barbara’s mountain-fringed coastline.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • A Must See: Santa Barbara County Courthouse

    This Spanish Colonial Revival building in the heart of Santa Barbara is not only beautiful to gaze upon from the street.  Its interior is filled with marvelous tile frescoes, curving stairwells and a court room (still in use today) with beautifully executed hand-painted frescoes depicting the city’s Spanish heritage. If it looks vaguely familiar, it's because it has served as a backdrop for many Hollywood films over the years.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Taste the Spirits of Santa Barbara

    Whatever the occasion, you'll find the perfect watering hole, ambience and entertainment along Santa Barbara's picturesque streets. Be one of the first to sample "Ginspiration Point," winner of the city's inaugural cocktail contest and now Santa Barbara's official drink of 2017, featured at Alcazar Tapas Bar.

    Photo courtesy of Jay Sinclair/courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara/EOS Lounge

  • Life's a Beach, Even in Winter

    A distinct advantage to visiting Santa Barbara during the winter months is having its famous beach almost to yourself...especially during late afternoon when the sun casts its magical glow.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Back to Nature

    Despite its reputation as a world-class visitor destination, Santa Barbara is surprisingly bucolic and boasts an amazing number of public gardens and parks. Its Mediterranean flora attracts a considerable number of bird species, including this colorful Acorn Woodpecker enjoying its perch on a winter-blooming aloe plant blossom.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Salt of the Earth

    If you thought pink Himalayan salt was just for the kitchen, think again. Salt in downtown Santa Barbara features the largest Himalayan salt cave in North America, filled with the most unpolluted salt on earth. You can lie directly on the salt and soak in its therapeutic properties or enjoy a relaxing massage as you breathe in its healing vapors.


    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Savor Santa Barbara's Winter Sunset

    While sunsets in winter come a few hours earlier than in the summer months, rest assured they are as vivid and spectacular as any you will see at other times of the year. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

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