For some coastal inspiration, consider this 3-day guide to Santa Barbara to help you make the most of your quick escape to perfect coastal California.
Begin the day with a cup of fresh coffee from the French Press. This SB cornerstone is guaranteed to start your day off right before driving just south to the coveted coastal enclave of Montecito.
Winding just moments south of Santa Barbara on Highway 101, you’ll find yourself in Montecito, home to such famous faces as Oprah, Jeff Bridges, Rob Lowe, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kelly Slater.
Once here, a trip to Lotuslandis a must. This 37-acre historic estate features more than 14 distinct gardens uniquely intertwined to create one of the most spectacular botanic experiences in the country.
As the afternoon winds down, head back up to Santa Barbara for a sunset cruise of the nearby coast. You won’t be disappointed.
Book Your Stay
Dinner is up to you. Feeling like tapas, Latin fusion, fresh sea urchin (a local delicacy), or French fare? These options are all at your fingertips as you make your way along State Street—Santa Barbara’s famous mainline for dinner, drinks, tasting rooms, and galleries.
Your second day in Santa Barbara is sure to find you craving more. Head to Scarlett Begonia on State Street for a brunch that combines a food-centric perspective with Santa Barbara style. The fresh, local flavors are only a hint of what is in store.
The beauty of Santa Barbara is the ease with which you can access everything you want to experience. From Scarlett Begonia, hop on the open-air trolley (a .50-cent ride from downtown to the water) or simply walk down to Stearns Wharf. California’s oldest working wharf extends from Cabrillo Boulevard into the Pacific and is home to souvenir shops, fish-n-chips restaurants, and Deep Sea tasting room, which overlooks the wild blue.
Why not stay an extra day? By adding one more night, you’ll open a new world of possibilities. Sip your way through Sanford Winery’s highly acclaimed acclaimed Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wine. With locations available in both downtown Santa Barbara and Santa Rita hills, guests can grab a quick glass in town, or spend a day at the winery, complete with food pairings and vineyard tours.
WhileSanta Barbara County wine country is a must for aficionados and newbies alike, it’s just as easy to experience the variety of flavors and award-winning wines along theSanta Barbara Urban Wine Trail. This series of more than two dozen downtown wine tasting rooms extends into the Funk Zone—the area spanning from the ocean to Highway 101. Tasting rooms are all within steps of each other, downtown, and the beach, making for a leisurely stroll. Or if you’d prefer a scenic ride, you can hop on a pedicab or an electric shuttle.
Transition from afternoon to evening with dinner at Belmond El Encanto. This luxury hilltop resort invites you to take in the view while enjoying some of the areas most sensational flavors.
It’s time for the beach. Or should we say, beaches? Santa Barbara doesn’t shy away from sand, sun (300+ days every year), salt water, and fresh sea air, all of which define its coastal vibe.
Start with a cruiser bike ride along Cabrillo Boulevard. Stop off for a walk along the pristine public East and West Beaches. Catch a game of pick-up volleyball or watch the local fishermen bring in their Saturday catch, sustainably harvested from the nearby Santa Barbara Channel.
If you decide this is simply where you’d like to spend the rest of the day, no one will judge you. In fact, you’ll be in great company, surrounded by other beachgoers looking to do the exact same thing.
However, if you find yourself needing some nourishment, enjoy a bite on Stearns Wharf before heading north to Goleta, where miles upon miles of sandy beaches await.
Goleta, or The Good Land as it was originally known, is one of Santa Barbara’s best-kept secrets. Home to University California Santa Barbara, a handful of welcoming craft breweries and eateries, a drive-in movie theater, and the stunning Bacara Resort & Spa, this hideaway didn’t have to work hard to earn its moniker.
Finish the day with a walk along the cliff-backed shores of Gaviota State Park before dining atThe Bistro at Bacara, named “One of Top 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America” by OpenTable.
Bella Vista showcases organic, Italian-inspired California coastal cuisine, crafted by Executive Chef Marco Fossati. The restaurant’s décor – with its fireplaces, hand-carved wine wall, rich mahogany and rare marble – adds…
Named “Top 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America” by OpenTable, The Bistro offers a casual and relaxed atmosphere to dine and enjoy sweeping views of the coastline. Chef Vincent Lesage’s American cuisine can be enjoyed…
Artisanal ingredients and exceptional flavors blend to create an unforgettable dining experience. Each dish is created with locally-sourced seasonal produce. Expect herbs directly from the chef's garden and Belmond El Encanto cheese, each block…
Lotusland, the 37-acre estate of the late Madame Ganna Walska located in Montecito, is a rare botanical nirvana. Lotusland features an enormous diversity of exotic plants from around the globe arranged 25 gardens, each distinctive in design but…
Old Spanish Days Fiesta draws large and loyal crowds to Santa Barbara year after year, in celebration of Santa Barbara’s heritage and traditions. From Aug. 3 to 7, the streets of Santa Barbara are bursting with music, dancing, time-honored traditions, authentic cuisine, and so much more.
Santa Barbara is a one-of-a-kind vacation destination, especially with the kiddos in tow. From interactive museums to endless beach days, there are countless ways to keep everyone, at every age, entertained. For families looking for the adventure of a lifetime, we’ve compiled a 3-day itinerary filled with activities along Santa Barbara’s waterfront. But before we get started, you’ll need to…