Santa Barbara is known for its beautiful beaches, Mediterranean climate, and stunning natural surroundings, including the Santa Ynez Mountains to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Here we have shared the best things to do in Santa Barbara.
About Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a city located on the central coast of California, in the United States. It is known for its beautiful beaches, Spanish architecture, and Mediterranean climate. The city has a population of around 90,000 people and covers an area of approximately 42 square miles.
Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world with its scenic coastline, cultural attractions, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Some of the most popular attractions in Santa Barbara include the S. Barbara County Courthouse, the S. Barbara Mission, and the S. Barbara Zoo.
Overall, S. Barbara is a vibrant and diverse city with a rich history and plenty to offer both residents and visitors.
Things To Do in Santa Barbara
Here are some more detailed descriptions of things to do in Santa Barbara:
- Santa Barbara Mission
- Beautiful Beaches
- Santa Barbara Zoo
- S. Barbara Museum of Art
- Take a hike
- Enjoy the Food and Wine
- Explore State Street
- S. Barbara Botanic Garden
- S. Barbara Museum of Natural History
- Reagan Ranch Center
- S. Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art
- S. Barbara Maritime Museum
- El Presidio de S. Barbara State Historic Park
- Wine Country
- Spanish-style Architecture
- Celebrities and Wealthy Residents
- Cultural attractions
Santa Barbara Mission
The Santa Barbara Mission, also known as the Mission S. Barbara, is a historic landmark located in Santa Barbara, California. It was founded in 1786 by Spanish Franciscan friars, and it is one of the most well-known and well-preserved of the 21 California missions.
The mission’s architecture is a beautiful blend of Spanish and Native American styles, with a grand stone facade, bell towers, and a lush garden courtyard. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the mission grounds and buildings, including the church, museum, and cemetery. The museum houses a collection of artifacts and art pieces that tell the story of the mission’s history and the Native American communities that lived in the area before and after the Spanish colonization.
The Santa Barbara Mission is open to the public every day except for certain holidays, and there is a small admission fee for the museum and church. It is a popular tourist attraction and a must-visit for anyone interested in California’s history and architecture.
Beaches in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara’s coastline is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in California, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Santa Barbara is home to several beautiful beaches that are popular among locals and visitors. Spend a day lounging on the sand, swimming in the ocean, or trying your hand at surfing or paddleboarding.
Here are some of the most popular beaches in Santa Barbara:
- East Beach – a popular beach for swimming, sunbathing, and beach volleyball
- West Beach – a great spot for sunbathing, people-watching, and watching the boats come and go from the harbor
- Leadbetter Beach – a family-friendly beach with picnic areas and a playground
- Butterfly Beach – a secluded beach with stunning views and great for long walks
- Hendry’s Beach – a dog-friendly beach with great surfing and tide pools to explore
- Arroyo Burro Beach – a wide and sandy beach popular for surfing, swimming, and picnicking
- Rincon Beach – a popular spot for surfing with great waves and a beautiful coastline
Please note that some beaches may have limited access or require a permit during certain times of the year, and it’s important to be aware of any safety regulations before visiting any beach.
Santa Barbara Zoo
The Santa Barbara Zoo is a popular destination for families and animal lovers located in California. It was founded in 1963 and is home to more than 500 animals representing over 140 species from around the world.
The zoo is situated on 30 acres of lush gardens and is known for its scenic ocean and mountain views. Visitors can see a variety of animals, including lions, giraffes, gorillas, and penguins. The zoo also has a special area called the “Backyard,” which features domestic animals like goats and sheep, as well as interactive exhibits and educational programs for children.
In addition to its animal exhibits, the S Barbara Zoo also offers a range of activities and events throughout the year, including live animal shows, behind-the-scenes tours, and summer camps for kids.
The S. Barbara Zoo is open to the public every day except for certain holidays, and there is an admission fee for entry. It is a great place to spend a day with family and friends and learn about animals and conservation efforts.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a museum located in downtown Santa Barbara, California, and it houses a collection of over 27,000 works of art. The museum’s collection includes a wide variety of art from around the world, with a focus on European, American, and Asian art.
The museum’s galleries feature a range of art styles and mediums, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and decorative arts. Highlights of the collection include works by famous artists such as Monet, Matisse, and Chagall, as well as lesser-known artists from different time periods and cultures.
In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing different artists and art movements. The museum also offers a range of educational programs for visitors of all ages, including lectures, workshops, and guided tours.
Santa Barbara has many beautiful hiking trails, including the Inspiration Point Trail, the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, and the Douglas Family Preserve. These trails offer stunning views of the ocean and mountains.
Here are some of the most popular hiking trails in S. Barbara:
- Inspiration Point Trail – a moderate hike with stunning views of the ocean and city.
- Rattlesnake Canyon Trail – a moderate to strenuous hike with beautiful views and waterfalls.
- Seven Falls Trail – a moderate to strenuous hike with a series of waterfalls and pools to swim in.
- Cold Spring Trail – a strenuous hike with steep inclines and beautiful views of the mountains and ocean.
- Jesusita Trail – a moderate hike with views of the city and ocean, and options for longer hikes into the mountains.
- Douglas Family Preserve – a moderate hike with beautiful views of the ocean and city, and options for shorter or longer hikes.
- Gaviota Peak Trail – a strenuous hike with stunning views of the ocean and surrounding mountains.
Please note that some hiking trails may require a permit or have limited access during certain times of the year, and it’s important to be aware of any safety regulations before embarking on any hike.
Food and Wine
Santa Barbara is home to many excellent restaurants and wineries. Try local favorites like seafood and Mexican cuisine, and sample wines from the nearby Santa Ynez Valley.
This pedestrian-friendly street in downtown Santa Barbara is lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.
Visitors can also take a stroll through nearby parks like Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens and De la Guerra Plaza.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a beautiful and serene garden that covers 78 acres of land and is home to over 1,000 species of plants, including rare and endangered plants from California and other Mediterranean climates around the world.
The garden has a variety of trails and paths that wind through different habitats, including a redwood grove, a desert section, and a meadow area. Along the way, visitors can see a variety of plant species, including cacti, succulents, wildflowers, and native trees and shrubs.
In addition to its plant collections, the Barbara Botanic Garden also offers a range of educational programs and events throughout the year, including guided tours, workshops, and classes. The garden also has a gift shop and a cafe where visitors can enjoy refreshments and snacks.
This Botanic Garden is open to the public every day except for certain holidays, and there is an admission fee for entry. It is a great place to explore nature and learn about the different plant species that make up California’s diverse ecosystem.
Lotusland is a 37-acre estate garden located in Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, California. The garden was created by Madame Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer and socialite, who owned the property from 1941 until her death in 1984. Today, Lotusland is a non-profit botanical garden that is open to the public for tours.
The garden features a stunning collection of plants from around the world, including rare and exotic species of cacti, succulents, cycads, and palms. The garden is divided into different themed areas, such as the Japanese Garden, the Blue Garden, and the Cycad Garden, each with its own unique design and plant collection.
Lotusland is known for its dramatic and whimsical landscape architecture, with features such as a topiary garden, a theater garden, and a water stairway. The garden also includes a collection of outdoor sculptures and a historic mansion, which houses an extensive collection of Asian art and antiques.
Tours of Lotusland are available by reservation only, and there is an admission fee. It is a truly unique and enchanting destination for those interested in plants, art, and design.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
This museum features exhibits on the natural history of the S. Barbara region, including displays on geology, marine life, and local wildlife.
Visitors can also explore the museum’s butterfly pavilion and planetarium.
Reagan Ranch Center
This museum celebrates the life and legacy of former US President Ronald Reagan. Visitors can view exhibits on Reagan’s presidency, his personal life, and his connection to the S. Barbara region.
Santa Barbara Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, often abbreviated as MCASB, is a museum dedicated to showcasing contemporary art in California. The museum has been operating since 1976 and has played an important role in bringing cutting-edge contemporary art to the area.
The museum’s exhibitions cover a wide range of contemporary art forms, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, and performance art. The museum works with local and international artists, and many of the exhibitions are specifically commissioned for MCASB.
In addition to its exhibitions, the museum also offers a range of educational programs and events throughout the year, including artist talks, workshops, and community events. The museum also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase art books,
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the maritime history of the Central Coast of California. The museum covers a range of topics related to the sea, including maritime art, ship models, diving and navigation equipment, and local maritime history.
The museum’s galleries feature a variety of exhibits, including a replica of a 19th-century tall ship, artifacts from local shipwrecks, and displays of the history of the California oil industry. There is also a working maritime research library with a collection of over 6,000 books and periodicals.
In addition to its exhibits, the S. Barbara Maritime Museum offers a range of educational programs and events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and children’s programs. The museum also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase books, souvenirs, and nautical-themed gifts.
The S. Barbara Maritime Museum is open to the public every day except for certain holidays, and there is an admission fee for entry. It is a great place to learn about the rich maritime history of the Central Coast and to appreciate the beauty and importance of the sea.
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
This historic park features a reconstructed Spanish fort and other buildings from the early days of S. Barbara.
Visitors can take guided tours and learn about the city’s early history and the local Chumash Native American culture.
These are just a few of the many things to do in S. Barbara. With its beautiful natural surroundings, rich cultural offerings, and vibrant food and wine scene, S. Barbara has something for everyone.
Other Activities in Santa Barbara
Wine Country: The Santa Ynez Valley, located just outside of S. Barbara, is a well-known wine region, famous for producing excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other varietals.
Spanish-style architecture: S. Barbara’s historic downtown and many of its buildings feature beautiful Spanish-style architecture, including red tile roofs, white stucco walls, and wrought iron accents.
Celebrities and wealthy residents: S. Barbara is a popular destination for celebrities and the wealthy, with many famous residents and lavish estates.
Cultural attractions: S. Barbara is home to a variety of cultural attractions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries.
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Here are the most frequently asked questions about S. Barbara.
Where is Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara is a city located on the central coast of California, in the United States. It is about 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Los Angeles and about 300 miles (480 km) south of San Francisco.
Where to stay in Santa Barbara?
Some popular areas to stay in S. Barbara are downtown Santa Barbara, Montecito, the Funk Zone, and the Santa Ynez Valley. There are many hotels and resorts in each of these areas to choose from.
How far is Santa Barbara from Los Angeles?
Santa Barbara is about 90 miles (145 km) northwest of Los Angeles.
How far is Solvang from Santa Barbara?
Solvang is located about 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Santa Barbara and can be reached by car in approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic.
What is Santa Barbara known for?
Santa Barbara is known for its beautiful beaches, mild climate, and Spanish colonial architecture. It is also known for its cultural attractions, including museums, galleries, and theaters.
Additionally, S. Barbara is known for its vineyards and wineries in the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, as well as for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and whale watching.
How far is Ventura from Santa Barbara?
Ventura is located about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Santa Barbara and can be reached by car in approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic.
How far is Lompoc from Santa Barbara?
Lompoc is located about 55 miles (88 km) northwest of Santa Barbara and can be reached by car in approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
What to do in Santa Barbara with kids?
Santa Barbara is a great destination for families with kids. Here are some fun things to do with kids in S. Barbara:
- Visit the S. Barbara Zoo, which features over 500 animals from around the world.
Explore the Ty Warner Sea Center, a marine education center with interactive exhibits and touch tanks.
- Play at the beach – some of the most popular family-friendly beaches include East Beach, West Beach, and Hendry’s Beach.
- Go whale watching from the S. Barbara Harbor – this is a great way to see whales, dolphins, and other marine life up close.
- Take a bike ride along the beachfront bike path, which runs for several miles along the coast.
- Visit the S. Barbara Museum of Natural History, which has exhibits on local wildlife and habitats.
- Check out the Children’s Museum of S. Barbara, a hands-on museum with exhibits on science, art, and culture.
- Take a guided tour of the S. Barbara Mission, a historic landmark with beautiful gardens and architecture.
- Go horseback riding in the nearby Santa Ynez Mountains.
- Visit the S. Barbara Botanic Garden, a 78-acre garden with walking trails and over 1,000 species of native plants.
How far is Santa Barbara from San Francisco?
Santa Barbara is located approximately 300 miles (480 km) south of San Francisco and can be reached by car in approximately 5-6 hours, depending on traffic.
Alternatively, you can take a flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to S. Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA), which takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
What Celebrities Live in Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara is home to many celebrities, as it’s a popular location for wealthy individuals to live due to its scenic coastal location and relaxed lifestyle. Here are some of the celebrities who have lived or currently live in S. Barbara:
- Oprah Winfrey – media mogul
- Ellen DeGeneres – talk show host and comedian
- Rob Lowe – actor
- Jeff Bridges – actor
- Katy Perry – singer
- Jane Fonda – actress and activist
- Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis – actors
- Kevin Costner – actor and filmmaker
- George Lucas – filmmaker and creator of Star Wars
- John Cleese – actor and comedian
It’s important to note that while these celebrities have lived or currently live in S. Barbara, they are entitled to their privacy and should be respected as such.
How far is Carpinteria from Santa Barbara?
Carpinteria is a small city located in Santa Barbara County, California, and it is approximately 12 miles southeast of S. Barbara. The driving distance between the two cities is around 20 minutes, depending on traffic.
How far is Oxnard from Santa Barbara?
Oxnard is a city located in Ventura County, California, and it is approximately 38 miles southeast of Santa Barbara. The driving distance between the two cities is around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
How far is Santa Maria from Santa Barbara?
Santa Maria is a city located in Santa Barbara County, California, and it is approximately 65 miles northwest of S. Barbara. The driving distance between the two cities is around 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on traffic.
How far is San Diego from Santa Barbara?
San Diego is a city located in San Diego County, California, and it is approximately 200 miles south of Santa Barbara. The driving distance between the two cities is around 3 hours and 15 minutes to 3 hours and 30 minutes, depending on traffic. Please note that travel time may vary depending on the route taken and any traffic or weather conditions along the way.