Santa Barbara California
Things To Do

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Santa Barbara California has been a popular tourist and resort destination for generations. This is a vacation destination fit for a king!

This city has a rich history and a refreshing Mediterranean climate. Outdoor activities are possible all year round.

You're sure to have a perfect California beach vacation in Santa Barbara County.

Santa Barbara California Waterfront

Santa Barbara Waterfront

Santa Barbara beaches attract travelers from around the world. Most visitors to Santa Barbara spend at least some time walking along the Waterfront (downloadable Waterfront Walk map).

Stearns Wharf (downloadable Stearns Wharf map) and the Santa Barbara Harbor (downloadable Santa Barbara Harbor map) are well known attractions. I recommend a couple of other historic buildings on this Waterfront Walk that you might also enjoy visiting...

There's been a bathhouse on West Beach near the intersection of Shoreline Dr./Cabrillo Blvd. and Castillo St. since 1901 (map it). The original Los Banos del Mar burned in 1913 and a new bathhouse opened three years later. The current structure opened in 1939.

Travel back in time and read this interesting article about life on West Beach in 1904. It tells the story of how Los Banos del Mar came to be, and includes some wonderful vintage photos.

Another of my favorite places on the Santa Barbara beach is located on East Beach, east of Milpas Street. The Cabrillo Pavillion Bathhouse/Arts Center (map it) opened in 1926.

Cabrillo Bathhouse and East Beach Grill

The Cabrillo Bathhouse includes bathrooms, showers, lockers, and a weight room. There's also a snack bar here. Playground equipment, beach volleyball courts, picnic tables and grills are nearby. Everything you need for a perfect day at the beach.

This beautiful public facility also features a ballroom and meeting facility overlooking the ocean and Channel Islands. It's a local favorite spot for weddings and one of Santa Barbara's Best Kept Secrets.

Just around the corner from the Cabrillo Bathhouse on Ninos Drive is the Santa Barbara Zoo (map it). This small zoo is home to 160 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. It's one of only three zoos in the world to display the endangered California condor.

For more suggestions about things to do on the waterfront, visit my Santa Barbara Vacation Planning Guide.

State Street And Old Town Santa Barbara

If you're interested in visiting Santa Barbara wineries while you're in town, walk two blocks inland from the beach on Anacapa Street. There you'll find more than enough wine tasting to fill an afternoon (or two!).

Old Town Clock

State Street Cafes

Inland from the waterfront, you'll find enough shops, restaurants and bars along lower State Street to keep you busy for a while. This charming Old Town features sidewalk cafes and beautiful historic architecture.

Old Town is also where much of Santa Barbara's vibrant nightlife begins. The historic Arlington Theater, the Granada Theater and the Lobero Theater schedule a variety of movies and live performances throughout the year. There are many popular bars and local college hangouts downtown, too. Old Town is the best place to go on a date in Santa Barbara California.

Historic Santa Barbara California

One block east of State Street at 1100 Anacapa Street is the magnificent Santa Barbara County Courthouse (map it). This courthouse has been called the most beautiful public building in the US. It is an officially designated National Historic Landmark and is well worth visiting.

View From Courthouse Clock Tower Look at this view of the ocean from the top of the Courthouse clock tower!

La Arcada Plaza

The County Courthouse marks the beginning of a self-guided walking tour of Santa Barbara's historic red tile district. This tour takes you by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.

Along the way you'll walk through La Arcada Plaza and see several original adobe homes. This is a great way to learn more about the history of Santa Barbara California. For more information, follow this link to the Red Tile Walking Tour map & video.

Mission Santa Barbara © Bernard Gagnon

Plan another day in Santa Barbara California to tour the Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. They're all in the same area of town, so bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it.

Santa Barbara California Parks

Once you're ready to explore Santa Barbara off the beaten path, find a city park to enjoy. There are so many parks in town, I'm still discovering new ones!

Santa Barbara is all about enjoying the outdoors. Acres and acres of city parks and open space provide places to:

Be as active as you like, or just relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. There's nothing like a little rest and relaxation with an ocean view!

Visit Santa Barbara California Sister Cities

The Sister Cities program was established to encourage social and cultural exchange. If you love Santa Barbara California, why not visit one of Santa Barbara's seven sister cities? There's one in every corner of the world!

  • Dingle, Ireland - Once named 'the most beautiful place on earth' by National Geographic and a Top 100 Destination by Trip Advisor.

  • Kotor, Montenegro - A 16th century tourist destination on the Adriatic coast.

  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - A major resort destination on the Mexico's Pacific Coast.

  • San Juan Metro Manila, Philippines - The smallest of 16 cities in Metro Manila.

  • Toba City, Japan - Birthplace of the cultured pearl.

  • Weihai, Peoples' Republic of China - A well-known open port and tourist city in China.

Santa Barbara California embodies everything a California beach vacation should be. Sun, sand, and surf mixed with good food and world-class wine. No matter what you decide to do in Santa Barbara you're sure to have a great vacation.

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