Enjoy the seaside sights and sounds of Stearns Wharf, one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks. Named for builder John P. Stearns and located at the end of State Street, it is California’s oldest working wharf and the perfect spot to soak up the sun, salty breezes and stunning views of the impossibly blue Pacific. The Wharf was completed in 1872 and served the passengers and freight shipping needs of California’s south coast for more than 25 years. Today it’s one of Santa Barbara’s most visited attractions and a mainstay of the Waterfront district.
You’ll find lots of places to explore as you stroll along the Wharf’s famous boardwalk. Search for treasures at the unique clothing and souvenir shops, cool off with scoop of handmade ice cream, take a fun guided boat ride from the Wharf to Santa Barbara Harbor aboard ‘Lil Toot or stop by the tackle shop to gear up on everything you need to try your luck at fishing. The Wharf is also home to three full-service restaurants, serving freshly caught seafood, as well as a tasting room where you can try homegrown wines accompanied by a 360-degree vista of the coastline. Kids will love the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, where they’ll learn about the fascinating creatures beneath the Wharf through cool interactive exhibits. Whether you want to spend the whole day or just catch a classic California sunset from the pier, a visit to Stearns Wharf is an essential Santa Barbara experience.
Stearns Wharf Directions, Parking and Hours
Stearns Wharf is flanked by East Beach and West Beach, and extends from State Street at the intersection of Cabrillo Boulevard. It’s quick and easy to reach Stearns Wharf by catching the Downtown and Waterfront Shuttles that run up and down State Street and along Cabrillo Boulevard. The fare is only 50 cents and the shuttles run frequently throughout the day; find the schedule here.
If you’re visiting by car, there are 141 parking spaces on Stearns Wharf that are free for the first 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, the cost is $2.50 per additional hour or part of an hour with a $20 maximum per day. The Harbor Restaurant offers valet parking, and free parking is also available in the 90-minute areas in several lots along the waterfront on Cabrillo Boulevard.
Mid-way down the wharf, an information kiosk lists businesses and activities available on Stearns Wharf.
Tips for Your Visit
Dogs are allowed on Stearns Wharf, and all of the local rules/laws/regulations that govern animals and/or dogs apply. All dogs must be on a leash that’s less than 6′ in length, the dog must always be under the your immediate control and you must clean up after your dog. Also note that dogs are not permitted on the beach in Santa Barbara city limits. Two restaurants on Stearns Wharf, Char-West and Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, have outdoor seating that may allow you to have your dog sit nearby while you dine.
Fishing on Stearns Wharf is free, and you can find supplies and bait at Stearns Wharf Bait and Tackle for all of your fishing needs.
Flat, comfortable shoes are your best bet for walking on Stearns Wharf. It’s not recommended that you wear high heels when you visit, as the heels can get stuck between the planks or break.