4 Seaside Escapes in Santa Barbara

Discover these quintessential Santa Barbara experiences.
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Feel the Sea Breeze

Butterfly Beach in Montecito, Santa Barbara

Stroll Butterfly Beach

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

Old Mission Santa Barbara

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

Fresh Catch at the Fisherman's Market in Santa Barbara

Fresh Catch at the Fisherman's Market

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 Fisherman’s Market is a must-stop. Local fishermen sell the day’s catch to restaurants and individuals alike. There’s even a fillet station to 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.

Explore Local Neighborhoods

Horseback riding on the beach in Santa Barbara

Horseback riding on the beach

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, innovative fine dining and amazing hiking. Head there to feel starstruck for the afternoon. 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 Draughtsman Ale Works, hard cider at Santa Barbara Cider Co. and local wine at SAMsARA Winery. 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.

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