15 Best Things To Do in Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is one of the most interesting places to visit, and if you are planning a relaxing vacation, then this place should be on the top of your list. This city has a number of historical sites, and the rich cultural heritage will give you endless things to explore. This city is filled with interesting spots and has amazing views so you will be able to enjoy these with your family and have a memorable time here. This list of the top tourist attractions in Santa Barbara will help you plan your vacation without forgetting any place to visit.

Let's explore Santa Barbara points of interest and 15 best things to do in Santa Barbara:

1. State Street

State Street - ImageImage Source: wikimedia.org

This Street is where you will get an authentic feel of the city and its culture. Here you will find numerous shops, restaurants, boutiques, movie theatres, departmental stores, and eateries serving delicious local food. You will see several tourists here since every tourist who comes to this town will surely visit this area. The lower part of the street leads to the waterfront and the harbor if you wish to get a shore side view and a nice walk by the shore. You can easily spend several hours here and not get bored. Explore the various shops and boutiques, and you will surely find many interesting things.

2. Mission Santa Barbara

Also known as Santa Barbara Mission was founded by the Franciscan Order. The interiors of the church have remained unchanged since the beginning, and the art collection here is mostly of colonial origin and from the neoclassical and baroque era. The art pieces were mostly brought from Mexico and South America. Some of the unique installations are the three stone statues depicting Saint Barbara as well as the virtues of charity and faith. This is the only sculpture that was created by the indigenous California Indians. Due to its history and cultural value, it is considered as California’s “Crown Jewel.”

3. Santa Barbara Zoo

This zoo is located at a point from where you can see the mountains and the sea, which makes it a worthy trip to here. Spread over 30 acres of land, this zoo is a popular spot for locals as well as tourists. This small zoo is home to more than six hundred animals including Californian Condors and capybara. You can either choose the guided tour or listen to the mini-lectures in front of the enclosures. There is also a children’s play area which is often full of happy and excited kids. The animals in this zoo are well taken care of, and your kids will surely enjoy the trip to this zoo.

4. Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Waterfront

The Stearns Wharf is undoubtedly the most beautiful wharfs on the coast of California. You will find a number of souvenir shops and restaurants that served delicious and fresh seafood. The SB Shellfish Co serves amazing lobster bisque and other full lobster dinners at a reasonable price. Earlier this wharf was served a major purpose I shipping between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The construction of the Harbor restaurant was a significant landmark since it became the backbone of the wharf economically. Thus, if you ever visit this city then do not miss this picturesque wharf.

5. Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

This botanical garden is located in the Mission Canyon and spread over an area of 78 acres. This garden contains more than a thousand rare and indigenous species of plants and flowers in their natural habitat. Apart from various species of plants, there are other things to view such as the Mission Dam which is a historic building, a Japanese Tea House which serves real Japanese teas and a Tea Garden. The garden offers a great view and beautiful landscapes which are worthy of being photographed. If you want to have a long peaceful walk then this the perfect place to be at. 

6. Santa Barbara Museum of Art

This museum is built in a building that was earlier a post office. After a number of renovations, this museum is a prominent spot in the city and popular among the tourists for its art collection. The entrance to this museum is through Ludington Court which is a dramatic piece of architecture. In this museum artworks of various artists and from various regions congregate to make this place interesting and delightful. The museum contains several amenities such as an auditorium with a seating capacity of 154, a store, a library which has more than 50,000 books and a Family Resource Center. The number of art exhibits is about 27,000 which spans over 5000 years and originate from parts of Asia, America, and Europe. A trip to this museum will surely be a learning experience.

7. Shoreline Park

If you need a break from the hustle of the city and require an area to enjoy the outdoors, then the Shoreline Park is the perfect place for you. This park is very popular among the locals, and tourists seldom miss this spot if they visit this city. In this park you can take part in a lot of activities such as cycling, kite flying, running, among others. There is also a lake within the park where you will find small sailboats and longboards. If you want to have a quick bite, then a waterside café located there will satisfy your hunger with delicious and freshly made snacks. You can also explore the Rengstorff House since it is the oldest house in Mountain View. This is a perfect place for a family trip, and you can spend some quality time getting involved in various activities. 

8. Santa Barbara Classic Wine Tours:

This trip is for those who enjoy premium wines and would like to know about the process. This tour consists of visiting four wineries and a picnic lunch. A guide will be with you at all times and tell you all about the process of converting the grapes into exquisite wine. The picnic is a classic California Wine Country picnic and includes options such as stuffed olives, roasted nuts, chocolates, cheese, artisanal sandwiches and many other things. You will surely enjoy the entire tour, and your love of wine will be satisfied for sure. 

9. Douglas Family Preserve

Also known as the Wilcrox Property, this is a park that is spread over 70 acres of area by the ocean. The location of this park is suitable for carrying out various outdoor activities, and there are many trails for hiking. The park contains a lot of animals and birds which you can see on a walk through the park. There are spots in the park which provides you opportunities to see whales and dolphins in the ocean. This park is a pet-friendly area, and so you can bring your pet dog and allow it to walk off leash. This is a perfect place to spend time with your family and friends in the tranquility of the park.

10. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

If you are in need of a cup of good coffee without spending a fortune then this place will be a good choice. You will find a variety of coffee here including cappuccinos and iced coffee. You can also grab a bite from a menu containing hamburgers, sandwiches. The popularity of this place is due to the price of the beverages and the taste.

11. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Places to visit in Santa BarbaraImage Source: wikimedia.org

If you are interested in natural history and want to know more about it then you must visit this place. This place was built to ignite a sense of curiosity within you for the nature and its history of thousands of years. You will find more than three million historic objects preserved here which include fishes, plants, mammals, birds and geology of the Channel Islands and Pacific Coast. This is a nice place to explore and learn about the history of the planet.

12. Tamira Restaurant

This restaurant will satisfy all your craving for traditional Indian food. This restaurant serves authentic North Indian dishes in a homely atmosphere. Dishes include chicken and vegetable samosas, chicken kebabs, chicken tikka, tandoori bread and a variety of rice dishes. You can also opt for premium wines and beers. So if you want to have a delicious Indian meal with a glass of wine, then this is the place.

13. Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

This is a very popular place, and you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities here including fishing, kayaking, and hiking and also enjoy the oak music festival. You can also enjoy camping here since this is the best camping ground in the area. 

14. Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Santa Barbara County CourthouseImage Source: wikimedia.org

Visiting a courthouse might not seem so interesting, but this courthouse has rich architectural design and the intricate tile mosaics and a spectacular view of the city and the ocean. The courthouse is a popular destination for tourists, and you can get a guide to walk you through all the historical facts and stories of this building. 

15. East Beach

The East Beach is the best beach among the three beaches in this city to enjoy the sun without a crowd. Even locals agree that this is the best stretch of land by the ocean due to its clean sand and ample parking space. If you want to enjoy a splash in the water or simply lay down under the sun, this beach is the most suitable for you.

These are a few of the things you can do in this city. Once you visit this city, you will take back a lot of memories, and you will never be bored in this place.

Author: Meghana Agashe
Oscillating between reality and day-dreaming, Meghana is a journalist by education and a travel-blogger by profession. The eternal love for exploring different places and cuisines, the urge to interact with people across cultures and the thirst for a...

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Top Santa Barbara Activities And Tours

Explore the best things to do in Santa Barbara. These are the most preferred tourist activities.

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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Santa Barbara, California

Must see places in Santa Barbara ranked on popularity. Here is the complete list of best attractions in Santa Barbara and point of interests to visit.

  1. State Street

    # 1 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 1427 times in trip plans
    State Street

    Tags: Outdoors, Food And Drinks, Market, Shopping Center

    Address: State Street, Highway 101, Santa Barbara, CA 93117

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    To really get a feel of this gorgeous city, you should definitely make a trip to State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.A lovely little strip teeming with shops, boutiques, restaurants, major departme...Read more

  2. Santa Barbara County Courthouse

    # 2 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 1172 times in trip plans
    Santa Barbara County Courthouse

    Tags: Landmark, Educational Site, Architecture

    Address: 1100 Anacapa St #2, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    It’s rare to find a Courthouse touted as an important cultural and architectural landmark in the area, but this unique property is well worth the visit. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse in su...Read more

  3. Mission Santa Barbara

    # 3 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 1275 times in trip plans
    Mission Santa Barbara

    Tags: Religious Site, Museum, History Museum, Outdoors

    Address: 2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    Renowned as the ‘crown jewel’ of the California Missions, this site has been painstakingly preserved. Mission Santa Barbara, or Santa Barbara Mission, is a Spanish mission founded by the F...Read more

  4. Santa Barbara Waterfront And Stearns Wharf

    # 4 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 1335 times in trip plans
    Santa Barbara Waterfront And Stearns Wharf

    Tags: Landmark, Walking Area

    Address: Stearns Wharf, 219 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States

    Timings: 24-hrs Details

    Stearns Wharf is indisputably the most beautiful wharf on the California coast. Santa Barbara’s most popular landmark today, it is lined with souvenirshops and several places where you can sampl...Read more

  5. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

    # 5 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 1158 times in trip plans
    Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

    Tags: Outdoors, Garden, Botanical Garden, Observatory

    Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

    Timings: 09:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    Located in Mission Canyon, with sweeping views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands,the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a 78 acre botanical garden that displays California...Read more

  6. Lotusland

    # 6 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 586 times in trip plans

    Tags: Outdoors, Garden, Park, Botanical Garden

    Address: Cold Spring Rd, Montecito, CA 93108, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 01:30 pm Details

    Can you honestly say you know the difference between a cactus and a euphorbia? A trip to Lotusland, Santa Barbara might give you a fighting chance. Featuring varieties of cacti, euphorbias, palms, bro...Read more

  7. Santa Barbara Museum Of Art

    # 7 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 787 times in trip plans
    Santa Barbara Museum Of Art

    Tags: Art Museum, Museum, Observatory, Educational Site

    Address: 1130 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

    Timings: 11:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    An interesting variety of pieces from different cultures congregate at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to the delight and admiration of visitors. Established in 1941 in a construction that was initial...Read more

  8. Arroyo Burro County Beach Park

    # 8 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 888 times in trip plans
    Arroyo Burro County Beach Park

    Tags: Outdoors, Sport, Garden, Observatory

    Address: 2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 9310, United States

    Timings: 08:00 am - 06:30 pm Details

    Referred to as Hendry's Beach by the locals, with much fondness, this is the perfect place to meet for either brunch or get a cocktail at sunset. A picturesque beach park, one can stroll or jog along ...Read more

  9. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

    # 9 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 801 times in trip plans
    Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

    Tags: Museum, Military Museum, History Museum, Observatory

    Address: 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States

    Timings: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Details

    The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located on the water's edge of the Santa Barbara Harbour, and has a myriad exciting and educational exhibits on display in a sprawling gallery space of nearly 8,00...Read more

  10. Stearns Wharf

    # 10 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 105 times in trip plans
    Stearns Wharf

    Tags: Fishing

    Address: 217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

    Ever wondered how does the busy business of fish catching, loading and unloading works? Well, enjoy all the knowledge that you want with the siding of the most spectacular sunsets at the Stearns Wharf...Read more

  11. Farmer Boy

    # 11 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 4 times in trip plans
    Farmer Boy

    Tags: Religious Site

    Address: 3427 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, USA

    Timings: 06:30 am - 02:30 pm Details

    You can come here early in the morning to taste some delicious breakfast dishes. The staff is super friendly and you will get your meal quickly. This is one of the best places to taste hot brewed coff...Read more

  12. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

    # 12 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 1 time in trip plans
    The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

    Tags: Cafe

    Address: 3052 De La Vina St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, USA

    Great coffee at an affordable rate- if this is what you are looking for in California then this is the best place to visit with your friends. They have plenty of items here starting from almond matche...Read more

  13. South Coast Deli

    # 13 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 4 times in trip plans
    South Coast Deli

    Tags: Restaurant

    Address: 10 E Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

    Timings: 07:00 am - 04:00 pm Details

    This is a perfect place for sandwich lovers. You will get to eat scrumptious dishes of various preparations here. The salads served are of top quality which enhances the taste of the sandwiches. Apart...Read more

  14. The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation

    # 14 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 4 times in trip plans
    The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation

    Tags: Entertainment, Performance, Stage Show, Concert

    Address: 1122 N Milpas St, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, USA

    Timings: 11:00 am - 06:00 pm Details

    This is one of the best locations in Boston where you can enjoy quality music and other concerts at different times of the year. This place is reasonably priced than most other concert halls and you w...Read more

  15. Tamira Restaurant

    # 15 of 693 Things To Do in Santa Barbara | Added 2 times in trip plans
    Tamira Restaurant

    Tags: Restaurant

    Address: 1027 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

    Timings: 11:30 am - 02:30 pm Details

    Craving some delectable Indian food while on your visit to Santa Barbara? Tamira Restaurant is where you would be able to taste the favourite dishes of India in a warm and in inviting atmosphere. The ...Read more

Find Your Santa Barbara Attractions on Map

Find more places to see in Santa Barbara

  • El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP

    123 E Canon Perdido St

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Santa Barbara Presidio

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Allan Herschell 3-Abreast Carousel

    223 E Cabrillo Blvd

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Hill-Carrillo Adobe

    11 E Carrillo St

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • Hearst Castle

    Historic and Protected Sites
  • North Sunset

    Historic and Protected Sites
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  • Cachuma Lake Park

    86 Lake View Dr

  • Lagoon

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  • Santa Barbara Historical Museum

    136 E De La Guerra St

  • Ty Warner Sea Center

    211 Stearns Wharf

  • Santa Barbara Carriage & Western Arts Museum

    129 Castillo St

  • Casa Del Herrero

    1387 E Valley Rd

  • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

    113 Harbor Way

  • Karpeles Manuscript Library

    21 W Anapamu St

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  • Chase Palm Park Antique Carousel

    223 E Cabrillo Blvd

    Amusement Parks
  • Cachuma Lake Recreation Area

    Highway 154

    Amusement Parks
  • Whiz Kidz

    189 N Turnpike Rd

    Amusement Parks
  • Davey Smith Surf Academy

    222 Meigs Rd

    Amusement Parks
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  • Sandbar

    514 State St

    Mexican Bars Night Clubs
  • Mesa Cafe & Bar

    1972 Cliff Dr

    American Bars Mexican
  • Chase Bar & Grill

    1012 State St

    Italian Bars
  • Wildcat Lounge

    15 W Ortega St

    Bars Night Clubs Restaurants
  • La Rumba Bar & Grill

    3435 State St

    Seafood Bars Mexican
  • Whiskey Richards

    435 State St

    Restaurants Bars Karaoke
View On Map
  • Casino Corral

    4197 State St

    Casinos and Gaming
  • Thomas Casino Systems

    922 State St

    Casinos and Gaming
  • Thomas Casino Systems

    5380 Overpass Rd

    Casinos and Gaming
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  • Los Padres National Forest

    San Marcos Pass

    Natural Parks
View On Map
  • Arroyo Burro Beach

    2981 Cliff Dr

    Dog Parks
  • Douglas Family Preserve

    Medcliff Rd

    Dog Parks
  • Tabano Hollow Open Space

    5100 Tabano Way

    Dog Parks
View On Map
  • East Beach Volleyball Courts

    140-1284 E Cabrillo Blvd

  • Hammonds Beach

    1457 Bonnymede Dr

  • West Beach

    323 E Cabrillo Blvd

  • More Mesa Beach

  • Campus Point Beach

  • Santa Barbara Beach

View On Map
  • Jesusita Trail

    San Roque Rd

  • Cold Spring Trail

    E Mountain Dr

  • Rattlesnake Canyon Trail

    Las Canoas

  • Knapp's Castle

    El Camino Cielo

  • Cathedral Peak Hike

    Tunnel Road

  • Inspiration Point

    1498 Tunnel Rd

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What To Do in Santa Barbara: Day-Wise Ideas

Find what not to miss in Santa Barbara! Recommended Santa Barbara itineraries and vacation ideas created by travelers across the world.