With unbeatable views, delicious dining and dozens of exciting activities, the Santa Barbara Harbor is the perfect place to spend the day by—or, better yet, on—the water. Located along the bustling Santa Barbara Waterfront, this historic working harbor is an excellent launch pad for a variety of adventures including sailing, sea kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), scuba diving, deep sea fishing, whale watching and much more. Several of the harbor’s businesses offer boat charters, cruises, equipment rentals and lessons, so it’s easy to find everything you need to explore the coast.
When it’s time to relax, you can browse the shops for seaworthy souvenirs, check out the day’s catch from local fishermen and sea urchin harvesters, or stroll along the breakwater wall to catch the sunset or watch the boats drift in and out of the Santa Barbara Channel. For a glimpse into California’s nautical past, stop by the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, which offers a fun, hands-on historical exhibits and educational programs. Ready for happy hour or a bite to eat? Enjoy drinks or dinner accompanied by beautiful ocean views at one of the on-site restaurants.
The harbor also hosts seasonal parades, markets, festivals and more throughout the year; you can find the schedule of upcoming events here.
Harbor Parking & Transportation
There are a number of free 75-minute parking spots around the harbor. Alternately, you can park in the city’s public parking lot located at the harbor. In this lot, the first 75 minutes are free, and each subsequent hour or part of an hour is $1.50.
The Waterfront Shuttle is a convenient, car-free way to get to the Santa Barbara Harbor. The shuttle fare is only 50 cents, and you can find the schedule here. The Santa Barbara Train Station is also located near the Santa Barbara Harbor. Find Amtrak train information here.
If you prefer to visit by boat, Santa Barbara’s official water taxi, Lil’ Toot, provides 15-minute boat rides daily (except on Wednesdays) between the Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf every half hour from noon until sunset. The fare is $5 for adults and $1 for kids each way.