Best Sightseeing Attractions in Santa Barbara: Fun Tours and More!

You're ready for a busy day in Santa Barbara. You've packed your sunblock, your swimsuit and your appetite, but what about your sea legs and your walking shoes? You're going to need them if you want to explore Santa Barbara's legendary sights the right way. Whether you feel like boarding a boat or guiding yourself, this list has all the hot spots you won't want to miss... and the best ways to see them, too.

Iconic Santa Barbara sightseeing spots include the Santa Barbara Mission and Stearns Wharf. The Urban Wine Trail is a more recent (but no less popular) addition to the local landscape that is suitable for the over-21 crowd. 

Organized tours provide some of the best means of discovering these sites - and many others - while you're in town. Santa Barbara Trolley offers fully-narrated tours that are fun for all ages. The Red Tile Walking Tour is a self-guided tour that takes you through the heart of downtown. You can even take to the high seas and travel from the wharf to the harbor aboard the Lil' Toot, Santa Barbara's very own water taxi.

One last tip: if you're pressed for time, buy a ticket for the Land Shark. This aquatic vessel offers a funny and informative 90-minute land and sea tour that covers the best of Santa Barbara's sights in record time!

Red Tile Walking Tour


Ideal for city newcomers and visitors who want a quick overview, this intriguing self-guided walking tour hits many of Santa Barbara's main cultural and historical attractions. The route explores approximately twelve blocks of urban territory....  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



A joint effort of Franciscan vision and Chumash Indian labor, this graceful structure was founded by Franciscan Friar Fermin de Lasuen on the Feast of St. Barbara, December 4th, 1786. Architectural details were reworked until the 1830s....  Read More

Santa Barbara


Built in 1872 to handle incoming freight and passengers, Stearns Wharf is one of the West Coast's oldest wooden piers. These days, following renovations in 1982, the wharf is a magnet for tourists, who come to gaze out on the Channel and shop...  Read More



Travel Santa Barbara's stunning waterfront aboard the Lil' Toot, Santa Barbara Water Taxi's charming yellow boat. Offering daytime cruises, sunsets cruises and transportation between Stearns Wharf and the Santa Barbara Harbor every half hour,...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Whale Watching


The stretch of ocean between Santa Barbara's southern-facing mainland and the offshore Channel Islands is a favorite with migrating whales. This natural channel is home to more than 26 varieties of migrating whales and dolphins throughout the...  Read More



One of the most popular hiking destinations in the Santa Barbara area, Inspiration Point offers a scenic view of Santa Barbara, the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands beyond. Although there are several place to pick up the trail, the most...  Read More

Photo courtesy of brewbooks


Designed by eccentric Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer, this estate garden is the product of decades of effort and attention. Fantastical vignettes feature a wealth of unusual plants, including cycads, which were present in the era of the...  Read More



Comprised of 26 independent wineries - with more cropping up all the time - the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail brings all the flavors of Wine Country to urban Santa Barbara, just blocks from downtown and the beach. The Urban Wine Trail is the...  Read More

Land And Sea Tours
Photo courtesy of Nico Lette


LAND SHARK! This is the most fun tour in Santa Barbara, primarily because it takes place on a huge open truck type vehicle that, halfway through the 90-minute tour, turns into a boat and launches into the sea! Yes, Land and Sea Tours offers an...  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