NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS SIGNATURE EVENT ITINERARY IDEAS

3 Quintessential Days in SB

It’s easy to see the allure of Santa Barbara: long stretches of tawny sand edging an expanse of ocean, an imposing backdrop of chaparral-covered mountains, and in between, a ribbon of land that is home to four exciting cities — Santa Barbara, Goleta, Montecito and Summerland. Santa Barbara and surrounding areas welcome families and individuals who enjoy the outdoors, sports, arts and culture, fine food and wine. There’s something for everyone… let this guide to Santa Barbara give you inspiration to sample its charms.

DAY ONE

HEAD FOR THE HEART: Start with the Spanish-Moorish fantasy that is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for an overview (literally) of town from the Clock Tower observation deck, and admire colorful panoramas of Santa Barbara’s story in the Mural Room. Afterward, you can trace the historic landmarks of downtown — including the Presidio, where the town was born — on the Red Tile Walking Tour. Follow State Street to the Pacific for a stroll out along Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara’s Waterfront district. In the other direction is Old Mission Santa Barbara, which was called the “Queen of the Missions” for its beauty. Founded in 1786, it is still active as a parish church.

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BREAK FOR LUNCH: Bistros and cafés, taquerias and pizza parlors offer possibilities for all ages and appetites, including a chance to enjoy the weather from the veranda at the Paradise Café, or to savor the harbor comings and goings from Chuck’s Waterfront Grill.

SIFT THE SANDS: Clear the mind with some beach time. So many to choose from! East, West and Leadbetter beaches are often full of activity, while Arroyo Burro (called “Hendry’s” by locals) boasts long uncrowded stretches beneath scenic cliffs. Montecito has Butterfly Beach, and Summerland’s Lookout Park includes picnic areas. Just up the coast, Goleta Beach sometimes attracts students from the neighboring university, and El Capitán State Beach offers swimming, surfing, and tide pools to explore.

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For a breathtaking sight, walk the shoreline of Santa Barbara’s West Beach during the golden hour before sunset. Photo Credit: J. Sinclair

SIP & SUP: Make your dining decision from an array of cuisines and settings, from formal to casual. With the surrounding bounty of land and sea to draw on, many fine restaurants, such as Downey’s, emphasize fresh, local, and seasonal menus and pair their offerings with the products of close-by vineyards and craft breweries.

SHOW TIME: Plays, music, movies, and more… the curtain goes up at historic theaters like the Arlington, Lobero, Granada, and the New Vic, as well at intimate venues like Paseo Nuevo’s Center Stage. UCSB’s Arts and Lectures program presents a mix of traditional and avant-garde fare both in town and on campus.

DAY TWO

PICNIC FIXIN’S: Why not plan for a lunch al fresco? A deli will make up a sandwich to order, or you can pick up the ingredients for a lunch-to-go at a gourmet shop like C’est Cheese or one of the purveyors in the Santa Barbara Public Market. There’s also a farmers market somewhere every day of the week.

GET ACTIVE: What’s your sport of choice? Santa Barbara has a place for it: Surfing… check. Golf… of course, complete with ocean panoramas at places like Glen Annie Golf Club and Sandpiper Golf Club. Tennis… multiple courts. To say nothing of vendors who will provide the equipment and opportunity to kayak, bicycle, and sail.

RELAX:  When you feel the need to ratchet down the activity level, try a treatment at one of the day spas, or re-energize your body and mind at one of the yoga centers.

Why not stay an extra day? Inn by the Harbor is  a romantic Mediterranean-style Inn, two blocks from Santa Barbara’s famed waterfront. During your stay, make your way to FLOAT Luxury Spa. In the heart of downtown, it’s the perfect place for a quick escape, specializing in massages, facials, body treatments and waxing.

KID’S PLAY: This is an ideal place for children to learn about the environment and the natural world while having fun. Time will fly at the Santa Barbara Zoo or the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, which also encompasses the Sea Center near Stearns Wharf. To see whales and dolphins in their aquatic environment, you can even board a Condor Express Whale Watching boat.

ALL THE BUZZ: Explore The Funk Zone, home to working artists, artisans, and galleries open to visitors — especially on weekends and during monthly art walks. The hip neighborhood abounds with tasting rooms on the Urban Wine Trail as well as its share of craft breweries, like the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. There are also myriad places to dine, offering everything from small bites and casual fare to gourmet meals at The Lark.

DAY THREE

MUSEUM MORNING: Art lovers, history buffs, maritime enthusiasts, and garden aficionados will all find something to inspire them. Superb collections of painting, sculpture, and photography fill the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, colorful exhibits grace the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and up-to-the-minute artworks thrive at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. In Montecito, Ganna Walska Lotusland is world-class horticultural jewel, while Casa del Herrero, a 1925 Andalusian-style farmhouse designed by architect George Washington Smith, also boasts a fine garden. And in the hills beyond the Old Mission, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden offers 78 acres of rare and indigenous plants.

LINGER OVER LUNCH: Find a seat with a water view or head for a romantic corner in a quiet restaurant, order a glass of local wine, and savor the moment. Santa Barbara is about enjoying the good life — for residents and visitors alike.

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With over 450 restaurants to choose from, there’s something to savor for every palate. Photo Credit: J. Sinclair

RETAIL THERAPY: There’s still time to find the perfect gift for someone else or yourself in one of the many area shops. State Street is lined with boutiques filled with clothing for men, women, and kids; home décor, and specialty wares. Don’t miss the passageways of La Arcada, El Paseo, and Paseo Nuevo. La Cumbre Plaza is another retail mecca beyond downtown. In Montecito you can stroll Coast Village Road and the Upper Village, while Summerland’s lively thoroughfare is a bonanza of antique stores, along with a variety of other shops and eateries.

AFTER DARK:  All year long there’s a tempting list of concerts, plays, and other theatrical performances, including — from April to October — big-name bands and singers at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Be sure to check out the late-night lounges, like those at the Sandbar or Cadiz Tapas and Lounge, as well as the music scene at bars, restaurants, and clubs from Summerland to Goleta.

DAY FOUR

You weren’t really ready to leave yet, were you? There’s always more to do…

Plan This Itinerary


Paradise Cafe

A Santa Barbara Classic Since 1983 Come enjoy our oak-grilled baby back ribs at a special price on Tuesday nights. And don’t forget about Sunday Brunch starting at 9 AM, our specials include spicy bloody marys and mimosas as well as our own…



Downey’s

When John Downey opened his namesake restaurant in 1982 the concept was simple... Serve the very best food available, and serve it in a comfortable, unintimidating setting where it would be easy to drop in for an exquisite dinner. Foods were to be…


C’est Cheese

Bakery & Cafe  +  Cheese & Wine Shop  +  Catering & Events C'est Cheese began as a small gourmet cheese shop back in 2003, founded by owner/operators Michael & Kathryn Graham. Over the years C'est Cheese slowly…


Santa Barbara Public Market

The Santa Barbara Public Market houses everything you can imagine in the way of handcrafted, regionally sourced and sustainable food, wine and beer. With an ardent focus on local farms and artisanal ingredients, the Public Market presents Santa…


Glen Annie Golf Club

Glen Annie Golf Club is a championship golf course situated in the rolling foothills of scenic Santa Barbara. This challenging layout is enhanced by breathtaking panoramic ocean and mountain views and is always maintained with the highest…


Sandpiper Golf Club

The championship golf course at Sandpiper has been rated by Golf Digest in the top twenty five public golf courses in the nation. It was designed by William F. Bell and opened in 1972 featuring beautiful rolling fairways and challenging greens in a…


Santa Barbara Zoo

“The Audrey Hepburn of Zoos – petite, charming and beautiful." (The Food Network) Even the lions and the giraffes have sweeping ocean views at this charming sea-side park. The beauty of the animals is matched only by the lush gardens.…



Condor Express Whale Watching

The Condor Express offers a variety of spectacular excursions in the Santa Barbara Channel aboard our state of the art high - speed catamaran, the 75' CONDOR EXPRESS. Our cruising ground includes the nutrient rich waters around Santa…


Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. was founded by father and son team, Jim and Jaime Dietenhofer, in 2010.  With a passion for craft beer, they set out to pay homage to the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with handcrafted beer and hand-drawn artwork…


The Lark

A shared dining experience featuring artisanal and seasonal ingredients celebrating the abundant bounty of the Central Coast.  OUR STORY The Lark, named for the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced…


Santa Barbara Museum of Art

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, one of southern California's finest art museums, features nationally recognized collections and special exhibitions of international importance. Highlights of the Museum's remarkable permanent collection include…


Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Located just beyond the Old Mission, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History offers visitors of all ages a chance to discover and reconnect with nature. Visit informative exhibit halls about birds, insects, mammals, marine life, paleontology,…



Lotusland

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…


Casa del Herrero

Noted  as one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America, the 1925 Casa del Herrero, in January 2009, was designated a National Historic Landmark. Designed by George Washington Smith for the Steedman…


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Explore California’s unique natural landscape at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, a magnificent, 78-acre living museum designed completely with California-native plants. Five miles of easy walking trails crisscross the wild-crafted gardens, so…


Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants

Paseo Nuevo is Santa Barbara's premier shopping destination in the heart of downtown! Shop Nordstrom and Macy's, Sephora, Victoria's Secret, Aveda and over 50 more shops. The beautiful paseos, courts and terrace lend a perfect setting for take a…


La Cumbre Plaza

A comfortable, inviting shopping experience awaits you at one of Santa Barbara’s premier shopping destinations. La Cumbre Plaza is conveniently located off Highway 101 at the La Cumbre/Hope Avenue exit, adjacent to the La Cumbre Country Club…



Lobero Theatre

The Lobero Theatre is Santa Barbara's premier performing arts venue, featuring an exciting variety of modern dance, ballet,  jazz, lectures, classical music, opera and contemporary music performances. The Lobero Theatre is proud to be home to…


Granada Theatre

A local landmark for almost a century, The Granada Theatre is the central coast’s premier performing arts venue.  Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara, The Granada is home to Santa Barbara Symphony, State Street…



Santa Barbara Bowl

Nestled in the foothills of Santa Barbara, The Santa Barbara Bowl was built in 1936 with WPA funding and served as a community gathering venue for decades. Then came Rock & Roll and live shows and fans. Now the SB Bowl hosts up to 37 popular…


Sandbar

We have combined the finest regionally influenced homestyle Mexican cooking with only the best and freshest ingredients available bringing back the best of Sonora style Mexican food. Our open air design has a truly fresh look and feel combining a…



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