5 Reasons to Catch a Concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Photo credit: A. Arthur Fisher 

One of the most iconic concert venues along the California coast, the Santa Barbara Bowl is an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by 17 stunning acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The venue seats up to 4,562 people, offering plenty of room to dance and a fantastic view wherever you’re seated. 

Here are just a few reasons why you should plan to see a show at Santa Barbara Bowl if you’re in town during concert season (April to November).

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Jam-Packed Lineup of Concerts & Events

Santa Barbara Bowl’s schedule is stacked with unforgettable concerts and performances, averaging nearly 30 shows a season. While the lineup varies each year, the venue has recently welcomed many big names to its stage like Billy Strings, The Lumineers, Phish, Olivia Rodrigo and John Legend, to name a few. Whether you’re a rock ‘n’ roll aficionado or a pop princess, you’re guaranteed to find a show that fits your vibe. View upcoming events at Santa Barbara Bowl.

Location, Location, Location

Just a 20-minute walk or five-minute drive from the many shops, restaurants and bars in downtown Santa Barbara, the bowl offers a prime locale for pre- and post-concert festivities. It’s also a few steps away from Milpas Street, one of the city’s most eclectic neighborhoods. The 1.5-mile street is where you’ll find some of the most delicious and authentic Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara, like La Super-Roce Tacqueria, Los Agaves and Taqueria El Bajio. Other iconic eateries along Milpas include Wingman Rodeo (the extra Korean sauce is a must-add to their mouthwatering wings!) and Bossie’s Kitchen, recently featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” for its homemade chicken pot pies and lemongrass curry.

Insider Tip: Looking for more places to get authentic Mexican cuisine? Check out the Santa Barbara Taco Trail, where the aroma of fresh tortillas will guide you from Milpas Street to the waterfront, Funk Zone, downtown State Street and beyond.

World-Class Concessions

We can guarantee you won’t go hungry (or thirsty!) at the Santa Barbara Bowl, where they go beyond traditional concessions to bring guests a truly incredible food and beverage experience. At the Towbes Family Café visitors can choose from burritos, beerwurst, pizza and pulled-pork sandwiches along with a host of vegan-friendly options, including Beyond Sausage brats and the Mediterranean plate, complete with hummus, house-made tzatziki and tabouleh. Or, opt for the Snack Bar where you’ll find all the classics, like loaded pretzels, churros, popcorn and candy, as well as coffee, soda and kombucha. 

For those seeking libations, the Main Plaza Beer & Wine has a lively atmosphere and the largest selection of beer and wine at the venue; or check out the rotating assortment of made-in-Santa-Barbara beer and wine at the Jerry Garcia Glen. Concert-goers can also head up to the Scranton Overlook (see below) to grab some barbecue and a cold craft beer. 

Insider Tip: Save the planet and some money by purchasing a reusable souvenir pint or wine glass which gets you $2 off all beverages. 

Scenic Views at Scranton Overlook

Located at the top of the amphitheater, the Scranton Overlook is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Santa Barbara. The overlook offers panoramic views of both the downtown area and Pacific Ocean coastline as well as a bar and Hutton Parker Outdoor BBQ, an outdoor barbecue featuring locally farmed meat with lots of flavor. 

Insider Tip: Visit the Scranton Overlook during the concert when it’s less crowded for a quiet, intimate experience.                 

Greening the Bowl Initiative

In 2009, inspired by the lush natural foliage surrounding the property, the Santa Barbara Bowl launched the Greening the Bowl initiative with the goal to become one of the nation’s most eco-friendly concert venues. Now, as an industry leader, it’s upped the ante by seeking to be as close to carbon neutral as possible. To achieve this, the venue has begun cultivating native and drought-tolerant plants around the property, offering opportunities for car-free forms of transportation, lowering the use of single-purpose materials (i.e., plastic cups, straws, etc.) and installing solar panels to help power the venue. 

Insider Tip: Peddle to Santa Barbara Bowl for the best parking at the venue. All cyclists receive complimentary valet parking right in front of the amphitheater. You’ll get to enjoy the scenery heading into the concert and will be able to skip the traffic heading home—a win, win!

Learn more about the Santa Barbara Bowl and view upcoming events here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How early should I arrive?
Due to the size of the venue, it can take around 30 minutes to get from your car to your seat. We recommend arriving at least an hour before the show starts.

Can I park my car?
Parking is located at nearby Santa Barbara High School, a seven-minute walk from the venue, and is $20 per car. The lot closes 30 minutes after the concert ends. If you’re in need of accessible parking, contact the Box Office at 805-962-7411. For those who prefer to rideshare, the Uber, Lyft, taxi, etc. drop off is located at the corner of Milpas and Anapamu streets. 

What is the venue’s bag policy?
Guests can bring a small handheld purse or clutch (10” x 7” x 2”). Medical bags, including those for infants, are also allowed. 

Are there hotels near Santa Barbara Bowl?
As mentioned above, the amphitheater is conveniently located near downtown Santa Barbara, which boasts a wide array of lodging options, including vacation rentals, hotels and resorts

How accessible is the Santa Barbara Bowl?
The venue offers a complimentary accessible shuttle service that transports guests to the entrance for every event. Guests can also arrange wheelchair-accessible seating by contacting the Box Office at 805-962-7411. Find out more information about accessibility at the Santa Barbara Bowl.