If you live less than two hours away from Santa Barbara, chances are you’ve made a habit of coming here just for the day. Maybe it’s a traffic avoidance mechanism, you’re saving your pennies or you simply want to get home to sleep in your own bed and cuddle your dog. That’s all well and good, but you’re missing out on so much by depriving yourself of the overnight experience. Beyond the sheer pleasure and adventure potential of a “sleepover,” here are seven compelling reasons to convince yourself to pull the trigger on that hotel booking next time you’re daydreaming of escaping to The American Riviera®.
Travel time to leisure time ratio
The math is pretty straightforward. You’re going to be able to relax more and enjoy the destination if you’re not cramming everything into one day and then spending valuable hours on the road. If you know you’re staying the night, that dreaded drive won’t be hanging over your head all day and you’ll have more flexibility to time your arrival and departure to avoid peak traffic periods.
Hotels for all budgets
Whether you splurge on a luxury resort or check into a modest motel, Santa Barbara offers a wide variety of lodging styles and price points. You can glamp in an airstream trailer, overnight in the original Motel 6, bed and breakfast in a Victorian charmer, hideaway in a historic hotel or rub elbows with the rich and famous at a Spanish Colonial seaside resort. Whether you stay in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito or Summerland, you’ll love having a home base to drop your belongings and leave the car parked so you can be footloose and fancy-free.
Have you taken a sunset sail from the Santa Barbara Harbor? Toured Lotusland? Hiked to Inspiration Point? What about horseback riding on the beach and visiting our “zoo with a view”? With one-and-a-half to two full days to fill, you could feasibly do all of these activities and more…such as relaxing on the beach, shopping on State Street, wine tasting and indulging in organic spa treatments, to name a few other options! Santa Barbara’s compact size makes getting from point A to point B super easy so you won’t ever feel rushed or stressed on your mission to experience more.
So. Many. Good. Restaurants. If you stay the night, you can pack more variety into your dining line-up. Figure you’ll get two lunches in and at least one breakfast and one dinner. Tacos, tri-tip, uni, Santa Barbara spot prawns and McConnell’s ice cream are just a handful of the local delicacies you’re going to want to save room for.
Enjoy some adult beverages
Drinking and driving is a big no-no. If you’re staying the night, no one has to be designated driver so you can thoroughly enjoy Santa Barbara’s delicious local wines and craft brews (in moderation, of course!). Go wine tasting on the Urban Wine Trail or opt for a beer trek. Local mixologists are also working some serious magic with artisan spirits, herbs and seasonal produce.
Catch a show
Santa Barbara’s performing arts scene is surprisingly rich and diverse for such a small town. With several historic theatres and the magical Santa Barbara Bowl drawing major and emerging acts alike, you can take your pick from live music, theatre, dance, opera and musicals.
Catch the sunset and sunrise
Amateur and professional photographers and Instagrammers alike will vouch for the fact that Santa Barbara has a very distinctive quality of light—and it’s best captured at sunset and sunrise. The unique color of the light has drawn artists and filmmakers here for more than a century because they can’t get enough of our purple mountains, golden sunrise glow, pink and orange-hued sundown skies and sparkling seas at twilight.