Dotted with Spanish Revival buildings and historic pier, Santa Barbara is a picturesque place to soak up the Southern Californian sunshine. It’s perched on gentle hills that slope down to the sparkling Pacific Ocean, which means you can explore the city’s historic attractions or cool off on a palm-fringed beach.
Things to do in Santa Barbara
With red-tiled roofs and whitewashed stucco walls, Santa Barbara’s architecture is a definite highlight. The 18th-century Mission Santa Barbara is one of the best examples of the Spanish Revival style, set in lush gardens with sweeping ocean views.
State Street serves as Santa Barbara’s main drag, lined with an appealing mix of cafes, bookshops, and boutiques. You’ll also find some of the city’s best restaurants and nightclubs clustered along the strip. Arigato Sushi serves up the best California Rolls in town, while M8RX Nightclub is famous for its all night DJ sets.
Need to cool off? Head to one of Santa Barbara’s golden beaches, such as the popular Arroyo Burro, a curving bay fringed by swaying palm trees. While you’re at the waterfront, don’t miss Stearns Wharf, a historic wooden pier with an upbeat atmosphere.
With a mini train and plenty of grassy picnic spots, Santa Barbara Zoo is a firm favourite with families. Just outside the city is Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where you’ll find an oasis of Japanese tea gardens, wildflower meadows, towering redwood groves and other picturesque settings.
Getting around Santa Barbara
Downtown Santa Barbara is pedestrian-friendly and ideal for getting around on foot. Local buses and downtown shuttles can whisk you around the city, with most departing from State Street. If you want to cruise along the waterfront, you’ll find a handful of bike rental shops down by Stearns Wharf. Santa Barbara Airport is an easy 15-kilometers drive west of downtown.