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Things to do in Santa Barbara

Things to do in  Santa Barbara

Welcome to Santa Barbara

Just a quick drive up from Los Angeles lies the city of Santa Barbara, also lovingly referred to as “The American Riviera.” This seaside town earns its nickname through its beautiful coastline, miles of pristine beach and the two green hills that wrap around the city; all of which lend an air of health and beauty to the Spanish-tiled roofs which line the streets.

Top 10 attractions in Santa Barbara

#1
Old Mission Santa Barbara

Old Mission Santa Barbara

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One of the most famous Catholic monuments in the state, Santa Barbara’s Old Mission is one of the longest continuously operating missions in California. Visit this beautifully constructed 1786 outpost to find stunning stonework, impressive columns, and two domed towers, as well as plenty of Native American and Spanish colonial history.More
#2
Solvang

Solvang

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Just over the hill from sunny Santa Barbara lie the Santa Ynez Valley and the small, Danish-style town of Solvang. Founded in 1911 by a group of Danish teachers, Solvang (Danish for “sunny field”) is now a bustling hub of activity, ripe with wine-tasting rooms, a fairy-tale-esque downtown, and all sorts of quirky shops.More
#3
Funk Zone

Funk Zone

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The Funk Zone is a hip, artistic neighborhood in Santa Barbara, CA, and it has become a haven for artists, artisans, wine makers, and chefs. Visitors will find plenty of artisan shops, art galleries, hip eateries, award-winning microbreweries, and a craft distillery, and many of them are located in aged warehouses and forgotten scuba shops. There are countless tasting rooms and a few specialty wineries. Five of the wineries located in the Funk Zone are part of the Urban Wine Trail, which is a group of wineries in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.There is always something to do in the Funk Zone. Try a new or established restaurant, or check out the gourmet food trucks. Attend an art gallery opening. Taste a variety of local wines. Shop at quirky boutiques and thrift stores. This neighborhood is the perfect place to enjoy a trendy, artsy vibe no matter what activities you choose.More
#4
Santa Barbara Waterfront

Santa Barbara Waterfront

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It should come as no surprise that a city hailed for its beautiful coastline should consider its waterfront the #1 tourist attraction in the area. With a variety of restaurants, boating and sport fishing tours, a bird sanctuary, bike path, and a beautiful promenade connecting the Waterfront to the rest of the downtown area, the Santa Barbara Waterfront is, without a doubt, one of the glittering gems of Santa Barbara.From State Street (the area’s main business street) head East to see Chase Palm Park (home to Sunday art-walks and where many a pickup soccer game begins), the Santa Barbara Skate Park, and the Bird Sanctuary. Head West from State Street and find the Harbor, Waterfront Museum, several restaurants, and water sports adventure tours.More
#5
Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

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After the great earthquake of 1925 ruined much of the city, an opportunity arose to give this beloved city by the sea something that would reflect the areas culture and beauty; something that would both honor and impress its residents. Designed in Spanish-Moorish style and completed in 1929, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is now one of the main tourist attractions on a visit to the American Riviera.One of the most beautiful government buildings in all of the United States, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a working courthouse, but visitors are encouraged to explore what its grounds hold in store for them. Here you’ll find the Sunken gardens where many weddings take place, an elevator to the 85-foot “El Mirador” clock tower for a panoramic view of downtown Santa Barbara, many hand-painted rooms full of detail (including the fantastic Mural Room), the Spirit of the Ocean fountain, and many wrought-iron hand-rails and window coverings which make the courthouse what it is – spectacular.More
#6
Santa Ynez Valley (SYV)

Santa Ynez Valley (SYV)

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The Santa Ynez Valley (SYV) is located in northern Santa Barbara County, California and includes the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang. It is one of five distinct American Viticultural Areas in Santa Barbara County's large wine country. More than 50 varietals thrive in this area's diverse micro-climates. There are more than 120 wineries located here, and most are small boutique operations and family owned and operated. Visitors come here to enjoy world class wines in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.Aside from wine, the Santa Ynez Valley has a strong craft beer scene. Throughout the area there are outstanding breweries, specialty tasting rooms, bars and restaurants offering international beer tastings, and a specialty brew shop. There are also several art and history museums that explore the culture of this area as well as art from the local communities. The Valley is also a great place for outdoor activities. Visitors can experience nature by exploring hiking trails through rolling hills and wildflowers.More
#7
Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf

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Embodying beauty, rustic charm, tourism, and a feel of the ocean, Stearns Wharf is Santa Barbara’s number one tourist attraction. Built by lumberman John P. Stearns in 1872, Stearns Wharf has a long and decorated history including naval appropriation and one great conflagration which all but destroyed it. Nowadays the pier is a bustling center for shops, restaurants, and fishermen.Santa Barbara’s historic three-dolphin statue marks the pier’s entrance at the bottom of State Street, where cars and pedestrians alike head out over the deep blue water to do a bit of wine tasting, souvenir shopping, pay a visit to the Ty Warner Sea Center, or just to get a great view of Santa Barbara from a different angle. Bring a camera and the kids – enjoying the beauty of Stearns Wharf is one of Santa Barbara’s highlights.More
#8
Montecito

Montecito

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Montecito is a small but wealthy town along California's coast. The town started out as a popular vacation destination more than 100 years ago because of the pleasant climate and natural beauty. Some visitors loved it so much they didn't want to leave, and they decided to move to Montecito. Today many celebrities call this town home. It's still a popular place for a relaxing escape, and there are plenty of hotels, shops, and restaurants with outdoor patios.One of Montecito's big draws is its natural landscape and environment. This small town's coastline is home to some of the area's most beautiful beaches including Miramar Beach, Fernald's Point, Hammonds Point, and Butterfly Beach. Some areas boast calm waters while others are well known for their waves. Popular activities include surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, sunbathing, and boating. Since the coast faces west, it is also the perfect place to watch the sunset.More
#9
State Street

State Street

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The heart of Santa Barbara, State Street delights visitors and locals alike with its lively downtown ambience. Spend a couple of leisurely hours wandering the tree-lined boulevard, stopping by shops, galleries, and wine tasting rooms.More
#10
Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA)

Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA)

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Small but beautiful, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) is renowned for its extensive collection of French and English 19th- and early 20th-century art, as well as modernism and photography exhibits. It also housesPortrait of Mexico Today, the only intact mural in the US by celebrated Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Santa Barbara

Historic Santa Barbara Food Tasting Tour
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Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour
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Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour

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All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Ynez Valley
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Small-Group Santa Barbara Wine Tour (MAX 7 GUESTS) to Private Locations
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Santa Barbara Kayak Tour

Santa Barbara Kayak Tour

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Santa Barbara Trolley Tour

Santa Barbara Trolley Tour

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Santa Barbara Small-Group Wine Tour to ONLY Private Vineyard Estates & Wineries
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Santa Ynez Wine Country Shuttle
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Santa Ynez Valley Wine by Bike Tour
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All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Barbara
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Santa Ynez Valley Cupcake and Wine Tour
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Santa Barbara Downtown Cocktails and History Walking Tour
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Recent reviews from experiences in Santa Barbara

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GREAT DAY!
LISA_H, Jul 2021
Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour
It was a great way to see and learn about Santa Barbara.
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Fun time on the water. Beautiful views
Valerie_V, May 2021
Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide
Wonderful way to see Santa Barbara and the hills from the water.
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First trip to Santa Barbara
Kim_H, Apr 2021
Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour
We had a great experience on the Santa Barbara food tour yesterday, it was really neat to see all the little hidden nooks that held wine tastings and local eateries.
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Biking Bliss!
Nikki, Mar 2021
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
What a fun way to see so many cool parts of Santa Barbara!
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Wonderful family bike tour of Santa Barbara
Jennifer_D, Nov 2020
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
We got to see the giraffes at the zoo and Butterfly beach.
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Kayak tour
Jobana_P, Aug 2020
Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide
Gave us some great tips on where to go and what to see while here in Santa Barbara.
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Great Times!
Camper45343888145, Apr 2019
Santa Barbara Wine Country Tour
Only downfall was one of the owners of the wine stops was upset we were wearing matching t-shirts (since this was a bachlerotte) - this killed the vibe.
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SANTA BARBARA electric bike tour
robert_r, Oct 2020
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
He gave us recommendations for restaurants and other activities.
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Weather was beautiful and this was a...
Maryann_S, May 2016
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
Weather was beautiful and this was a great way to see Santa Barbara!
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Super Fun day
Tonya_J, Nov 2020
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
I can’t think of a better way to see Santa Barbara and enjoy the outdoors!
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DO Santa Barbara by E-Bike!
Michele_S, Nov 2020
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
PERFECT way to see beautiful Santa Barbara!

All about Santa Barbara

When to visit

If basking on the beach ranks high on your itinerary, Santa Barbara summers are postcard perfect. It’s also the city’s most lively time, with buzzing open-air cafés and a decadent lineup of music, food, and wine festivals. If you don’t mind wearing layers, visit in the spring for a quieter—and cheaper—way to experience the "American Riviera."

Frequently Asked Questions
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