A Santa Barbara vacation means spending lots of time outdoors. The weather here is so beautiful, you can't help but get outside to enjoy the sunshine!
Santa Barbara County has everything you need for a first-class holiday, too. The best room and board that money can buy.
But you don't need a lot of money to enjoy a Santa Barbara vacation...
Contrary to popular belief, it's entirely possible to have a great Santa Barbara vacation without spending a fortune. It IS possible to find a decent room for a reasonable rate in Santa Barbara County.
Of course, the least expensive place to stay is in your own tent or RV. Santa Barbara County is home to some of the best beach campgrounds on the Pacific Coast.
There are also two National Parks in Santa Barbara County. Los Padres National Park includes much of the mountain range between Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley. There are lots of places to go hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping in California.
Here are some free and discounted things you can do in Santa Barbara County:
An earthquake destroyed much of Santa Barbara in 1925. This happened during the height of the Spanish Colonial architectural revival.
Santa Barbara leaders adopted the Spanish style and mandated its use in re-building many of the city buildings. The white stucco walls and red tile roofs have become symbolic of Santa Barbara, California.
I was awestruck the first time I saw the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. It's a National Historic Landmark and a MUST SEE during your Santa Barbara vacation.
If you're interested in seeing more of Santa Barbara's Historic District, download a map of the Red Tile Walking Tour.
If you have more than a shoe-string budget, you can have lots of fun in Santa Barbara. Here are my recommendations:
Well-known Santa Barbara attractions include the Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. Your vacation need not be limited to visiting these famous attractions.
You definitely want to spend some time along the waterfront during your Santa Barbara vacation. This is Tourist Central for a reason; there's so much to do here.
The beach along the Santa Barbara, California waterfront is composed of three individual beaches. Leadbetter Beach lies to the west of the harbor. West Beach is between Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf, and East Beach is east of Stearns Wharf.
One great way to plan a Santa Barbara vacation is to schedule it around an event you'd like to attend. There are several historic performing arts venues in Santa Barbara: The Granada, The Arlington Theatre, The Lobero, the Santa Barbara Bowl and the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez.
Annual events include:
Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Late January - Early February
Banff Film Festival - Late February - Arlington Theater.
Taking a guided tour is a great way to learn more about Santa Barbara County. Here are some ideas to get you started:
If you're in good shape and up for a challenge, try one of these Do It Yourself Bike Rides. Conditions in Santa Barbara County are perfect for cycling. In fact, Tour de France athletes often train here. There are several places in Santa Barbara County to rent a good bicycle.
You could even go cycling in wine country. Price includes a gourmet picnic lunch, wine tasting, bike rental, helmet, professional guide and water bottle.
There are lots of ways to see Santa Barbara from above. If you follow my exclusive scenic drive you won't ever have to leave the ground! The views from the top of the mountain range behind Santa Barbara are breathtaking.
Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water. This drive takes you past the Knapp's Castle ruins, a picnic table at La Cumbre Peak, and two paraglider/hang glider launches.
Or, learn how to fly a paraglider yourself. Take paragliding lessons.
If you're a little less adventurous, go for a ride in a Cessna or learn to fly one yourself! Float over beautiful Santa Ynez Valley in a hot-air balloon. Or take a whale watching helicopter tour and fly over the Channel Islands.
For wine tasting in the vineyards, take one of my self guided Santa Ynez winery tours. If you'd rather not drive (highly recommended), hire a private Jeep driver or go on a Jeep Wine Tour with a group.
Rather play golf during your Santa Barbara vacation? There are almost too many Santa Barbara golf courses to count.
Do you love to fish? There are 21 lakes and reservoirs where you can go fishing in Santa Barbara County. Or take advantage of the ocean and try deep sea fishing on your vacation.
The Stow House Museum and Rancho La Patera in Goleta is an historic California lemon ranch. From the Railroad Museum there, take a scenic day trip to San Luis Obispo in a vintage Pullman railroad club car.
Several Montecito estates are open to the public. If you're interested in rare plants, take the Lotusland tour.
A beautiful pond at Lotusland.
This tour does not include inside the home. I was a little disappointed by that, but the gardens are magnificent.
Another Montecito estate which is open to the public is Casa del Herrero, essentially unchanged since 1925. Many local residents still haven't discovered this local treasure.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do and see on your Santa Barbara vacation. And the discount programs make it more affordable than you might think. So, pack your bags and come enjoy a California beach vacation in Santa Barbara County.