With so much to see and do in Santa Barbara, your instinct may be to hop in your car each morning without even thinking about it. But, luckily for you, the city boasts a number of care and car free activities, each of which offers their own unique brand of fun, and none of which involve parking meters. Check ’em out!
Be charmed as you see all of Santa Barbara’s sights, with a ride on one of the open-air trolleys that traverse the city continuously throughout the day. You’ll cruise the waterfront from Santa Barbara all the way to Montecito’s famed Butterfly Beach and make your way up State Street to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Enjoy the sights like the Santa Barbara Zoo and the Courthouse, Montecito’s Coast Village Road and Santa Barbara’s State Street, the El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. After ending your ride, grab a bite to eat or glass of wine at a sidewalk café.
Whether your taste in wheels leans toward a beach cruiser, road bike, scooter, moped, rollerblades or a surrey—better known as a bicycle built for, well, up to eight!—Wheel Fun Rentals has you covered. With its convenient location on Cabrillo Boulevard, adjacent to the end of Santa Barbara’s famed State Street right where it hits the beach, you’ll be off on your adventure immediately. Take advantage of that starting point by following the long, paved bike path built into the sand. You’ll wind your scenic way from East Beach to the harbor, past Leadbetter Beach and all the way up to Shoreline Park, which offers a great spot to stop and take in a truly incredible view of the city and coastline, dotted with surfers and sunbathers, paddleboarders and pelicans. If you’re lucky, you may even score a glimpse of a pod of dolphins, or a lovely, lone whale cruising through the channel.
If easy-going electric bikes are more your style, stopover at any BCycle dock around downtown Santa Barbara to rent your ride. Take a memorable trip through the many city streets and revel in Santa Barbara’s iconic Spanish-Moorish style architecture. Pop by Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants for a little retail therapy at one of the many boutiques, then grab lunch up State Street at the Santa Barbara Public Market, where there’s a little something to meet everyone’s tastes. The flexibility and relaxed vibe that accompanies renting electric bicycles are unmatched!
If you love the idea of catching all the sights you’d see on a guided tour, but aren’t sure a big group tour is really for you, check out Segway of Santa Barbara for a far more unique and individualized experience, led by a local guide. You’ll ride on your own Segway—a two-wheel, upright, motorized vehicle that’s fun yet easy to maneuver and will enable you to cover lots of ground without breaking a sweat. Outfitted with a personal audio receiver and earbud, you’ll hear about famous historical spots as well as lesser-known locales that you’ll pass as you cruise one of four standard tours. Their routes take you from the pier to the beaches, through old town or to the famed Santa Barbara Courthouse and its legendary Sunken Gardens, or all the way to the spectacular hilltop Old Mission Santa Barbara, known as the “Queen of the Missions.” Each standard tour is offered twice daily; inquire for custom adventures.
One thing you’ll quickly notice about Santa Barbara is that its streets were made for walking. From Cabrillo’s beachfront promenade to State Street’s wide sidewalks and the open-air Paseo Nuevo mall, to tucked-away enclaves like La Arcada and the famed art- and wine-saturated Funk Zone, getting a serious taste of Santa Barbara is often as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. With little boutiques, specialty shops, galleries, bars and restaurants peeking from every corner, plan to play it by ear, follow your nose and change directions according to whatever catches your eye. To see the city from a different, on-foot perspective, check out these free walking tours throughout Santa Barbara. If you need to stop and refuel during your journey, forego the usual suspects and go where the locals go: Check out the Dune Coffee Roasters or Handlebar Coffee Roasters for an artisanal cup of joe. Above all, remember that in this friendly, casual city, you’ll never go wrong if you let your instincts chart your course.