Not so far from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is a beautiful coastal town in California between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, also known as American Riviera, for its Mediterranean-like climate. Although it is definitely a beautiful destination all year round, it offers fun activities for all age groups.

How to Get There

Santa Barbara is North West of Los Angeles on the 101 North freeway. The driving distance is about 108 miles from LA and takes about 2 hours. So the easiest way to get there is flying to LAX and then driving unless you want to take expensive flights directly to Santa Barbara Airport.  

Best Time to Visit

Spring – Between March-May is the best time to visit when weather is cool and the waves are perfect for surfing.

Fall – Between September-November is also lovely to be there, even though the temperature is moderately mild year-round, hovering between the 60s and 70s. However, traveling in the spring or fall is good for avoiding crowds, and accommodation will be comparatively reasonable.

Stearns Wharf, California
Santa Barbra, California
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California

Top Things To Do in Santa Barbara

Explore Downtown

State Street is one of the most visited places downtown, which is filled with restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. But for a unique shopping experience, visit Funk Zone close to Urban Wine Trail. In addition, you will find many galleries and restaurants a perfect place for hanging out, and also great for parties in the evening.

Downtown Santa Barbara, California
Downtown Santa Barbara, California

Visit Mission Santa Barbara

While visiting Santa Barbara, the historic landmark Mission should be at the top of your itinerary. It was founded in 1786 and is an excellent site to explore and discover city’s Spanish roots. Beautiful location overlooking the Pacific Ocean, mountains in the back, gardens, and a historic cemetery that one can easily spend hours exploring and enjoying.

Historic landmark Mission
Historic landmark Mission Santa Barbara

Explore County Courthouse

The iconic Santa Barbara County Courthouse is located in downtown. A must-see visit to Santa Barbara is incomplete without visiting this Spanish Colonial Revival-style building.

For a 360 view of Santa Barbra, take the stairs up to the Clock Tower to view the 18th-century clock and experience the breathtaking picturesque views of downtown Santa Barbara with rolling mountain vistas and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

The iconic Santa Barbara County Courthouse
The iconic County Courthouse
View of Santa Barbara from the rooftop
View of Santa Barbara from the rooftop

Don’t Miss Visiting Stearns Wharf

The oldest working wharf in California and undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in California. Nothing can beat being on Sterns Wharf and watching the sunset in the Pacific Ocean and the rolling mountains. The Pier provides many fun activities for all age groups and charming views and is the ideal place for tourists and locals alike to shoot photos, watch the sea life, and make everlasting memories.

The Santa Barbara Dolphin Fountain is also an iconic symbol of the coastal town located right in front of Stearns Wharf, but don’t be surprised if you end up seeing no water in the fountain due to frequent drought.

Sunset in Santa Barbara
Must experience the beautiful Sunset
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California

The Lobero Theatre

The Lobero Theatre is a historical building in downtown Santa Barbara. It is California’s oldest, continuously running a theatre. First founded in 1873 and reconstructed in 1924, it is known as one of Santa Barbara’s architectural jewels and a landmark. 

A picturesque waterfront park lined with tall palm trees next to the beach was great for biking and jogging; it was a breathtaking view as I usually don’t see such beautiful and tall palm trees on the east coast.

The Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara
The Lobero Theatre

Go for Wine Tasting

Urban Wine Trail offers more than 20 tasting rooms, so for wine lovers, one day of wine tasting is definitely not enough in Santa Barbara. Moreover, there are also a live band and different fun events scheduled in different testing rooms on a regular basis.

Hike The Rocky Pine Ridge

Do this mountain hike for the best view of Santa Barbara. It is one of the favorites among weekend visitors; not so difficult to climb, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views and the best climbing experience. 

If you are fit and comfortable with navigation, it is a great hike that awards beautiful views of the rocks. Unfortunately, the trailhead is tricky to locate, beginning at the intersection of Gibraltar Rd and East Camino Cielo Rd.

Visit Leadbetter Beach

Leadbetter Beach is a City beach between Shoreline Park and Santa Barbara Harbor. Popular for a picnic, BBQs, and other outdoor activities.

Leadbetter Beach
Surfer’s paradise the Leadbetter Beach
Santa Barbara
Another popular beach next to Stearns Wharf

Butterfly Beach

With good reason, this pretty beach regularly makes it into the top California beach lists. It’s easy to access from the Four Seasons Biltmore, the gentle waves are perfect for swimming, and the beach offers some of the best spots for sunset watching in Santa Barbara. Unfortunately, the beach has no public facilities, so bring your lunch and have a nice picnic afternoon.

Recommended Restaurants

In Stern Wharf, there are three great restaurants. My experience at Moby Dick Restaurant was excellent. They offer incredibly fresh seafood and a choice of your favorite cocktail that goes alongside it. However, the most exciting part was the outdoor cocktail patio and the Sunset Room, which is a perfect setting for an evening meal.

Where to stay in Santa Barbara, California

Harbor View Inn, Santa Barbara

This Santa Barbara hotel offers an outdoor pool and hot tub, which is less than 5 minute’s walk from Stearn’s Wharf. In addition, guests can enjoy a full-service spa experience at Spa Beaumontia, located on-site. Guest rooms feature free WiFi.The modern rooms at Harbor View Inn include an HDTV with film channels and a mini-bar. Guest robes, a safety deposit box, and a work desk are also provided. East Beach is 5 minute drive from the hotel. Santa Barbara Mission and Arroyo Burro Beach County Park are 10 minute’s drive away.

Bath Street Inn, Santa Barbara

Bath Street Inn in Santa Barbara is a Victorian B&B less than a mile from the Arlington and Granada theaters in Santa Barbara. Full hot gourmet breakfast, daily wine, cheese social hour, evening desserts, and free Wi-Fi are included. Each bright room at Bath Street Inn features cable TV. Decorated with old-world charm, all rooms with private bathrooms include toiletries. Guests can kick back and relax in the provided sitting area.

My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Santa Barbara, California? Any cool tips to share?

I loved being in Santa Barbara, California, and want to go back again. I hope my story has motivated you to visit California.

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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