Things to Do This Summer in Santa Barbara

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®.

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JUNE events

Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival

The Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival, now in its third year, takes place over two days at Lobero Theatre. This event honors the area’s deep surfing heritage and the varied approaches of the filmmakers, artists, board shapers and surfers who pioneered the sport. Attendees can enjoy an array of surf exhibitors, local craftspeople, live music, tasty food and artisanal beverages.

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Juneteenth Santa Barbara Block Party

Celebrate Juneteenth at the annual Santa Barbara Block Party in the Funk Zone. The celebration will spotlight local Black artists, business owners, and performers, with plenty of free food, dancing and singing for all to enjoy.

Photo credit: @juneteenthsb via Instagram

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Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice Parade and Festival is a highlight in Santa Barbara County, drawing people from all over the world. This vibrant celebration, now in its 50th year, features stunning artwork, elaborate costumes, and lively performances. It takes place every year on the weekend closest to the summer solstice and offers a fun-filled lineup with a special concert, delicious food and local vendors.

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JULY events

Santa Barbara National Horse Show

The Santa Barbara National Horse Show at Earl Warren Showgrounds is a major and beloved city tradition. The event is divided into two main competitions: the Multi-Breed Show from July 3-7 and the Hunters & Jumpers from July 10-14. Together, these shows draw over 150 competitors. Besides the competitions, attendees can enjoy numerous other activities such as Picture Perfect Pony Photo Opportunities, guided tours of the facility, various food vendors and more.

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Santa Barbara's Fourth of July Celebration

If you’re planning to celebrate Independence Day, Santa Barbara’s waterfront is the place to be. Enjoy a day full of festive, family-friendly activities including free live music and dance performances on the beach, courtesy of the PARC Foundation. The highlight of the day will be a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display by Garden State Fireworks, sponsored by the City’s Waterfront Department.

Photo credit: Fritz Olenberger

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California Wine Festival

The California Wine Festival, spanning two days, features an array of wineries showcasing their best at Chase Palm Park. The event begins with a wine tasting and educational seminar on Friday evening. Saturday’s activities move beachside, offering tastings of over 250 wines from 70 wineries, alongside food from top chefs and various vendors. Highlights include a barbecue competition among Santa Barbara’s finest chefs and pop-up shops to explore, all enhanced by the ocean breeze.

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Santa Barbara Antique, Decorative Arts & Vintage Show and Sale

The Santa Barbara Antique, Decorative Arts & Vintage Show and Sale at Earl Warren Showgrounds is a premier event for antiques, vintage items and decorative arts on the West Coast. With over 60 top dealers from across the nation, the showroom offers a vast selection of goods ranging from the 17th century to the mid-20th century. Explore an eclectic mix of items including Tiffany pieces, furniture, jewelry, paintings, silver, China, pottery, lighting, textiles, Native American and vintage fashion, oriental rugs, mid-century modern pieces and many other rare finds.

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AUGUST events

Old Spanish Days Fiesta

Santa Barbara’s vibrant history takes center stage during the first week of August with Old Spanish Days Fiesta, the city’s most iconic celebration that dates back to 1925. Be sure to mark your calendars for this year, as it’s the festival’s 100th anniversary, for a week filled with music, dance and culture.

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Pacific Pride Festival

Each August, which is Santa Barbara’s official Pride Month, the Pacific Pride Foundation hosts the annual Pacific Pride Festival at Chase Palm Park. This all-day celebration honors the LGBTQ+ community from Santa Barbara and beyond. With around 30 vendors, attendees can explore a variety of booths offering local food, crafts, and information from organizations advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. This event is a highlight of Santa Barbara’s Pride celebrations.
Photo credit: @kao_wonder via Instagram
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September events

Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival

Santa Barbara, a hub for artisans, makers, and designers who cherish local craftsmanship, offers the perfect setting to celebrate art made from the ocean’s natural treasures. The Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival is your one-stop-shop to find beautiful sea glass jewelry and discover ocean-themed art inspired by this coastal paradise. It’s a wonderful opportunity to shop for unique gifts and enjoy the artistic creativity of the region.

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Ongoing Events 

Santa Barbara Bowl Summer Lineup

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. This year, catch shows like Cage the Elephant (July 3), Ziggy Marley (July 21), Rebelution (Aug. 14 and 15) and more.

Photo credit: @killdevilfalls via Instagram

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Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show

The artists of Santa Barbara gather together each Sunday to line Cabrillo Boulevard 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.
Cost: Admission is free

Photo credit: Jay Sinclair

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Summer Courthouse Film Series

Take advantage of a beloved local tradition: The free outdoor cinema series presented seasonally by UCSB’s Arts & Lectures on Friday evenings. The Summer Courthouse Film Series features films from across the decades and 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.
Cost: Admission is free

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Sipping on the Sea

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, Double Dolphin features a local winery or brewery representative to pour tastings and educate on their selection of local sips. Bask in the golden glow of a famed Santa Barbara sunset near the end of your two-hour excursion. The summer lineup features local vendors like High Seas Mead, Topa Topa Brewing, Fess Parker Winery and more.
Cost: $85/person (21+ only)

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Butterflies Alive!

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, teeming with rich knowledge of the area. 
Cost: Included in museum admission.

Photo by: @michellelaurenphotography via Instagram

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Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club

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.
Cost: Tickets start at $30/person

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Music on the Water

Waves of music! Join 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 annual local lineup includes artists Justin Claveria, Ross Harper and David Segall
Cost: $85/person

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Outdoor Summer Activities

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 a nature-lover 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 can’t-miss 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.