We’ve missed you and are thrilled to welcome you back! However, things are going to be a bit different while we continue to protect each other from coronavirus. When it comes to your health and safety, we want to ensure that your expectations are not only being met but exceeded.
To demonstrate that you can put your trust in us, we’ve created this guide to arm you with essential need-to-know information to prepare you for your escape to Santa Barbara. From local rules and regulations to social-distancing friendly activities and itinerary inspiration, read on to learn how to be a healthy, informed traveler in Santa Barbara.
Is it safe to travel to Santa Barbara?
Being a safe, responsible, and respectful traveler has never been more important. It’s in your best interest, as well as those of our residents, workforce, and fellow visitors. Please do your homework upfront and be prepared to adhere to the following guidelines:
Travel to Santa Barbara: As of January 26, 2021, leisure travel to the Santa Barbara South Coast is permitted.
Face Coverings: The California Department of Public Health announced that face masks are required in the State of California* for those ages three and older.
- A face mask or similar article that completely covers your nose and mouth is required while in hotel public areas as well as when you go out walking, shopping, and dining (masks can be removed for eating and drinking).
- Masks are required if you are inside of, or in line to enter any indoor public space, picking up food from your car window, and while waiting for, and on all public transportation and rideshares.
- Masks are also required when in outdoor public spaces. If you’re on less populated trails or engaged in outdoor recreation at the beach such as running, biking, and walking), pull up your mask when you encounter other people in close proximity. You don’t need to wear a mask in the water.
- If you’d like to add some stylish masks to your collection, you can support our small business community and make a fashion statement by shopping with the following local retailers: Catherine Gee, Johnny Was, Loveworn, and Ace Rivington. Additionally, the Santa Barbara Visitor Center now offers free and for purchase face masks. While you receive local tips on area activities, be sure to stock up on mask and hand sanitizer necessities.
*Those who are exempt from wearing a face mask include those with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering and those who are hearing impaired or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, do not need to use a face mask. For more information, please click here.
Keep Your Distance: Practicing social distancing is required. Please remain six feet away from those not in your traveling party at all times.
Avoid Gatherings and Mixing: Any form of gatherings with individuals outside of your household is not permitted. A “gathering” is considered an event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space.
State Street Goes Pedestrian: We are delighted to share the news that State Street in downtown Santa Barbara has been closed to car traffic from Sola to Gutierrez Streets. This makes it easier to social distance—and State Street makes for a lovely pedestrian promenade. When traveling on State Street, please use the street for walking rather than the sidewalk. If you’re biking along State Street, proceed slowly. Cross streets will remain open to vehicle traffic so please be mindful of traffic lights. As you reach the 500 Block of State Street, please be advised that a face covering is required and will be enforced, but we recommend that you wear one on all blocks of the pedestrian promenade, as there may be areas with more people where a 6-foot distance isn’t possible. Bike traffic is also prohibited on the 500 Block stretch.
Before Traveling: Be aware of the most recent Health Officer Orders for Santa Barbara County.
Call Ahead: Before visiting, we recommend confirming all reservations—especially if you made them in advance of the pandemic. This applies to hotels, restaurants, and attractions, as businesses are reopening at different paces with different guidelines for their guests.
We are all craving the healing powers of nature and fresh air these days, and medical experts agree that being outdoors in wide-open spaces is one of the safest ways to practice social distancing. Fortunately, we have an abundance of outdoor environments and activities awaiting you. Here are seven different ways you can experience Santa Barbara al fresco:
Beeline to the Beach: Our beaches are one of our community’s most prized resources. Whether you want to catch the sunrise or sunset on a beach walk, take a refreshing dip in the Pacific or relax on our sandy shores, you’ll have miles of coastline to explore and enjoy. Here’s a guide to seven not-to-be-missed beaches.
Please be aware of your surroundings. If a particular beach or area looks crowded, please find an alternative location.
Bike Around: Rent a bike or borrow one from your hotel and feel the refreshing ocean breezes on your face as you cruise along the Cabrillo Bike Path. More experienced road cyclists will revel in the challenging terrain of Gibraltar Road, while mountain bikers can tear it up on trails running through the Los Padres National Forest. See our biking resources to learn more.
Surf & SUP: Surf culture is in Santa Barbara’s DNA and we’ve got a line-up of stellar breaks, from the mellow waves of Leadbetter Beach to the more challenging windswept Jalama Beach County Park. If stand up paddle boarding is more your speed, rent a board to cruise around the Harbor and Stearns Wharf. Click here for the scoop on all things surf.
Go Kayaking: Paddling around the Santa Barbara waterfront is a rewarding adventure, between the serene coastal views and the marine life sightings. Rentals, guided excursions, and lessons are available through our local outfitters.
Tee Off on the Green: Almost all of Santa Barbara’s golf courses are all up and running and just as pleasant as ever.
Self-Guided Tours: Familiarize yourself with Santa Barbara’s architectural and historic landmarks on a self-guided tour. While you might not be able to go inside every building, you can appreciate their exterior beauty and elegance from the outside. You can also see how a local architect Jeff Shelton interprets Santa Barbara’s signature style through a contemporary lens on a scavenger-hunt style tour of his projects located in the downtown core. Lastly, take an oceanfront tour of Santa Barbara’s iconic coastline with a waterfront sailing or whale watching cruise. Lil’ Toot is ready, mask and all!
What else is open in Santa Barbara?
Many of our restaurants, wineries, breweries, and bars are open for to-go, curbside, and outdoor service at reduced capacities that allow for proper social distancing—so getting a reservation at that hot spot day-of might be more challenging. Again, this is where a little advance planning will pay off! Retailers are open and limiting the number of customers allowed in at once. Museums and the Santa Barbara Zoo are allowed to open outdoor exhibits. At this time, nightclubs, live entertainment, festivals, and gatherings of any kind are not permitted to reopen quite yet. For a complete list of what’s currently open or closed within Santa Barbara County, please click here.
Local Medical Resources
If you do end up feeling ill while visiting Santa Barbara, here is the need-to-know hospital information:
- Please call your doctor for guidance if you develop symptoms, or visit Cottage CareNow for a COVID-19 assessment and guidance.
- Call ahead if you are going to visit a healthcare provider in person, so precautions can be taken to prevent spread of germs.
- If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
- Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 seeking care at our hospital emergency departments will be screened and triaged based on symptoms.
These are the main hospitals in our county:
- Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital: 400 W. Pueblo St., Santa Barbara; 805-682-7111
- Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital: 351 S. Patterson Ave., Goleta; 805-967-3411
- Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital: 2050 Viborg Rd., Solvang; 805-688-6431
Even vacations can be stressful at times. If you are in distress, Santa Barbara offers a free, confidential health and human services hotline available 24/7 in multiple languages. Call 2-1-1 or 800-400-1572 to talk to specialist in areas including mental wellness, substance abuse, and more.
We thank you in advance for your cooperation and appreciate your support of our community!