4 Seaside Escapes in Santa Barbara
Don't miss this inspiring view and a mission built in 1786.
Discover these quintessential Santa Barbara experiences on your way from Channel Islands National Park to Yosemite.
Feel the Sea Breeze
Start your day in Santa Barbara with a hike to beautiful Inspiration Point. This 3.5-mile roundtrip adventure brings you to an overlook with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands National Park, the city of Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez mountains to the east.
After getting your steps in, head to one of the area’s many beaches. If you’re traveling with your dog, Arroyo Burro is the place to be, with a self-service dog-wash in the parking lot. If you’re looking to surf or boogie board, head to Leadbetter Beach. And, if you just want to sunbathe and get lost in a book, head to Butterfly Beach.
Go Back in Time at Old Mission Santa Barbara
The stunning architecture and history of Old Mission Santa Barbara can’t be missed. Built in 1786 by Spanish Franciscans, this beautiful building is still an active church. Stop by for a self-guided tour of the church, museum, Sacred Garden and cemetery or join a docent-led tour weekdays at 11 a.m., Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m. to learn more about the mission’s fascinating history. Don’t forget to stop by the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden across the street to see more than 1,500 rose bushes in bloom – a great spot for a picnic.
Sample Today’s Catch and Local Wines
Head to Santa Barbara’s waterfront to really get a taste of this seaside town. Start the day out on the water at the harbor with a whale watching excursion with Condor Express or a stand-up paddleboard lesson from Paddle Sports Center.
On Saturday mornings, the Fishermen’s Market is a must-stop. Local fishermen sell the day’s catch to restaurants and individuals alike. There’s even a fillet station where an attendant will prepare your fresh catch if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen. Jump on the Lil’ Toot water taxi and head across the harbor to Stearns Wharf to sample locally caught seafood at Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. before strolling the shops along the wharf.
In the Presidio Neighborhood, taste local wines on the Urban Wine Trail at Grassini Family Vineyards Tasting Room or Jamie Slone Wines where you can order a chocolate pairing to go with your tasting. Afterwards, explore the city via the self-guided Red Tile Walking Tour to see quintessential Santa Barbara architecture.
Explore the State Street Promenade, a 10-block pedestrian walkway which can be found between Sola and Gutierrez streets. Visit on Thursdays from 3-7 p.m. for a market filled with local artisans and temporary art installations. You’ll find a wide array of restaurants on Victoria Street including the delicious Olio e Limone Ristorante which serves Italian fare. Afterwards, head to California’s oldest operating theatre, the Lobero, for their world-renowned jazz performances.
Explore Local Santa Barbara Neighborhoods
Santa Barbara isn’t the only charming town in this area. Check out three of its sister neighborhoods: Montecito, Summerland and Goleta, each with its own vibe and unique charm.
Montecito is the destination for glamorous shopping, fine dining and amazing hiking. Head to Coast Village Road to check out clothing and home goods boutiques before a late lunch at Lucky’s Steakhouse. You’ll also find Lotusland, an outdoor botanic wonderland, and Casa Del Herrero, a 1920s-era architectural marvel.
Goleta is home to University of California Santa Barbara and a huge craft beverage scene. Find local craft beers at breweries such as M. Special Taproom or Captain Fatty’s, hard cider at Santa Barbara Cider Co. and local wine at SAMsARA Winery. Golfers will find the stunning Sandpiper and Glen Annie golf courses to play a round at.
Summerland is a low-key beach town with excellent antiquing and world-class horseback riding. Book a ride with Los Padres Outfitters to trot down a glittering beach.
Due to COVID-19 and California state regulations, we advise confirming all travel plans in advance. Business hours and offerings may fluctuate.
For more information:
Central Coast Tourism