Summer days in the Santa Barbara South Coast are nothing short of unforgettable. Bike by the beach, sail along the coast, sip local wine—the possibilities are limitless when you’re on Santa Barbara time. When planning your next trip, be sure to cite this list as your ultimate guide to the area’s best events and activities. As we welcome warmer weather, kick off your summer vacation in the beachside bliss of The American Riviera®.
Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club — Sundays through October 2022
Plan a visit to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for a Sunday Polo match, where ladies don their finest hats and gentlemen dress to the nines to watch the thrilling equine sport. Revel in the speed and agility of both the jockeys and horses, and graze on a tasty charcuterie platter under shaded awnings—and maybe even catch a glimpse of Prince Harry on the field. The pristine grass and stunning mountain views make an unforgettable backdrop to gaze at while sipping champagne and cheering on the players. Learn More
Cost: Tickets start at $30 per person.
Old Spanish Days Fiesta — Aug. 3 to 7, 2022
Experience one of Santa Barbara’s most coveted annual events, Old Spanish Days Fiesta, where Native American, Mexican and Spanish culture and history is revered with parades, art, authentic music, dance and more. Begin the five-day celebration with La Fiesta Pequeña (the little festival) and finish with a leisurely stroll through the festival’s Sunday arts and crafts show. The popular El Desfile Histórico (historical parade) will take place on Aug. 5 at noon, starting at Cabrillo Blvd. and ending at Calle Cesar Chavez. Learn More
Cost: Free to attend
Santa Barbara Studio Artists’ Open Studios Tour — Sept. 2 to 5, 2022
Experience the works of 28 local artists during the 20th Annual Studio Artists’ Open Studios Tour on Labor Day Weekend. More than your average art festival, this cultural event gives patrons the exclusive opportunity to access artists as they work in their studios. The tour, which is the largest and most prestigious event of its kind on the Central California Coast, will raise money for the Santa Barbara Food Bank. Learn More
Arts & Culture Events
Santa Barbara Bowl Summer 2022 Lineup — Various dates
Live music and in-performances are back and we are here for it! A quintessential summer getaway to Santa Barbara always includes listening to live music and entertainers under the stars at the intimate Santa Barbara Bowl. With 4,500 seats, each view provides an ocean view set in the foothills of Santa Barbara’s Riviera neighborhood. While concerts are still being announced, the current lineup includes big names such as The Chicks (July 29), Rebelution (Aug. 7), Leon Bridges (Sept. 8), Jack Johnson (Oct. 4) and more. Learn More
Cost: Varies per event.
Lobero Theatre Summer 2022 Lineup — Various dates
Each time you see a show at The Lobero Theatre, consider yourself a part of its ongoing history and legacy as California’s oldest, continually operating theater. Founded in 1873, this cultural gem is admired for its architecture and is known as a favorite venue among performers like actor and musician Jeff Bridges. This summer, don’t miss their lineup of live music and entertainment including Amos Lee (June 1), Corrine Bailey Rae (July 13) and Get The Led Out (Sept. 30) Learn More
Cost: Varies per event.
Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County Museums — Now through September 2022
Learn about the effects of climate change—and what you can do to make a difference—with the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County Museums. In partnership with 14 local attractions in Santa Barbara County, the organization teaches the public about important environmental causes through impactful installments of art, history, nature and science. Learn More
Cost: Varies per event.
Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show — Every Sunday
The artists of Santa Barbara gather together each Sunday to line Cabrillo Blvd. from Stearns Wharf to Calle Cesar Chavez at 10 a.m. until dusk. Featuring all original artwork by local artists, this show is the only continuous, non-juried arts festival of original drawings, paintings, graphics, sculpture, crafts and photography in the world. You’re going to want extra space in your suitcase to bring one-of-a-kind treasures and souvenirs for loved ones back home. Learn More
Cost: Free to attend
Butterflies Alive! Exhibit at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History — May 28 to Sept. 5, 2022
The butterflies have returned to Sprague Butterfly Pavilion! Take a peaceful stroll through the lush enclosed garden and learn about local and exotic varieties of butterflies this summer. This is the perfect summer activity for all ages and is a beautiful extension to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History—which is teeming with rich knowledge of the area. Learn More
Cost: Included in museum admission ($12–$18 per person, free for children under two years old)
Music on the Water with Santa Barbara Sailing Center — Memorial Day Weekend through October
Waves of music! Join the Santa Barbara Sailing Center for a unique experience aboard the Double Dolphin. This 50-foot cruising catamaran sets sail every Friday evening between Memorial Day and October for a “Music on the Water” Sunset Cruise. See some of Santa Barbara’s local musicians perform while enjoying the sunset and soaking up the majestic views of the Santa Barbara coastline. Some of this year’s local lineup includes The Coconuts (July 1), Gavin Roy (Aug. 5) and Ross Harper (Aug. 26). Learn More
Cost: Tickets are $85 per person for children, infants and adults.
Summer Courthouse Film Series — July 8 to Aug. 26, 2022
Take advantage of a beloved local tradition: The free outdoor cinema series presented seasonally by UCSB’s Arts & Lectures on Friday evenings at 8:30 p.m. The Summer Courthouse Film Series, which includes showings of American Graffiti (July 8), Dirty Dancing (July 15), In the Heights (Aug. 26) and others, is set in the courthouse’s sunken gardens, with the architectural landmark building adding drama to the picturesque backdrop. As early as noon on film days, attendees can save a spot with a picnic blanket or low-back chairs on the Santa Barbara Courthouse lawn. Guests are also encouraged to bring food and beverages to enjoy with the film and a cozy layer is recommended to stay warm after the sun goes down.
Evenings at Elings Park — Aug. 26, Sept. 16 and Oct. 21, 2022
On select Friday evenings, get your groove on to reggae music at Elings Park. Beer, seltzer and wine will be available on site and guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Sit back and enjoy one (or all) three shows in the lineup: Don Carlos with The Vibe Setters and Soul Fyah (Aug. 26), Wailing Souls with Resination and Jacob Marquez & The Good Vibes (Sept. 16) and Third World with Soul Majestic and Bombafiya (Oct. 21) the show or dance the night away, as this concert is the perfect Friday night summer excursion for all ages. Learn More
Cost: Varies per event. Kids 12 and under are free.
Food & Drink Events
Sipping on the Sea with Santa Barbara Sailing Center — Now through October 2022
Set sail with the fresh ocean breeze and a chilled glass of local libations at Sipping on the Sea. Every third Thursday from May through October, the Double Dolphin features a representative from a local winery or brewery to pour tastings and provide education on their selection of local sips. Bask in the golden glow of a famed Santa Barbara sunset near the end of your 2-hour excursion. After sailing the seas and indulging in locally grown libations, fill up on seafood from Stearns Wharf or grab a bite at one of the many open-air restaurants downtown Santa Barbara. The summer lineup features Grassini Family Vineyards (July 21), Topa Topa Brewing Co. (Aug. 18), Fess Parker Winery (Sept. 14) and more. Learn More
Cost: Tickets are $85 per person. 21+ only.
Drinks at Dusk — June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18, 2022
Explore the Sacred Garden at Old Mission Santa Barbara this summer, while noshing on savory appetizers and enjoying unlimited tastings of local wine and beer. Drinks at Dusk is a Santa Barbara favorite that’s returning this summer and now is your chance to join the Franciscan Friars for an evening of celebration of local food and drink. Learn More
Cost: Tickets start at $50 per person and include your own commemorative wine glass.
From Mountainside to Beachside
Make summer in Santa Barbara as relaxing or adventurous as you want it to be. From mountains to beaches, Santa Barbara has all the outdoor offerings you could ask for. Use this downtime to clear your head with a scenic hike. Complete with photo ops along the way, picturesque views are motivation enough to hit the trails.
Santa Barbara knows how to show off some serious beach vibes, too. Think swaying palm trees, unforgettable sunsets, sandy and sparkling waters. At one of the area’s seven not-to-be-missed beaches, get your feet wet with a range of activities, experiences and excursions beyond building sandcastles. Re-energize with a sunrise salutation or leisurely walk on the beach. The panoramic ocean and mountain views can be downright cathartic.
Get on the Water
An “Endless Summer” spirit and catching waves have been a favorite pastime among locals long before it was a world-recognized sport. Offering something for every ability level, you’ll be able to find the perfect set at one of these top Santa Barbara surf breaks. For a more laid-back experience, head to Santa Barbara Harbor for additional ways to get out and on the water. Glide your way across the Pacific and into serene ocean surroundings with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard. For those with an adventurous spirit, go high above the seas with Santa Barbara Parasail or explore underwater riches with Channel Island Expeditions.
Find a Perfect Path
Santa Barbara prides itself in being ultra bike-friendly. Gear up for a leisurely palm tree-lined ride along the Waterfront on the Cabrillo Bike Path from Leadbetter Beach to Butterfly Beach. Make a pitstop on historic Stearns Wharf to look for sea lions then continue riding past the Andree Clark Bird Refuge. For an action-packed ride, mountain bikers love the challenge of Santa Barbara’s front and backcountry trails. No matter what path you take, enjoy the sun on your face and the breeze in your hair.
On the Green
Gear up with your trusted clubs and tees and get ready for a round of golf on the sublime greens in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Revel in wide-open, fresh-air courses that come complete with ocean and mountain views. To get started here are three golf courses that offer lush fairways and smooth, fast greens all within a short drive of one another.
Put it in Park
Flora and fauna have a long and fragrant history in Santa Barbara. Scattered throughout the destination, you can find pockets of paradise to spend the afternoon, take a stroll, have a picnic or simply encounter breathtaking city views. While some parks and gardens are more well-known than others, we’ve compiled a list of the ten not-so-secret parks and gardens of Santa Barbara.