Whether you’re in need of tranquil relaxation, exploring natural wonders, or seaside indulging in a beachy paradise, the Santa Barbara South Coast is your one-stop destination for a stress-free summer vacation. As travelers are eager to hit the open road and sky, we’ve compiled a list of events and activities that will energize your soul during an unforgettable getaway. From fireworks and festivals to live music and sunset sipping, there’s plenty of reasons to escape to The American Riviera® this summer.
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Events & Festivals
Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, Sundays through October 10, 2021
Plan a visit to the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club for a Sunday 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. The pristine grass and stunning mountain views make an unforgettable backdrop to gaze at while sipping champagne and cheering on the players. Tickets required for entry. Learn More
Santa Barbara Studio Artists’ Open Studios Tour, September 3 through 6, 2021
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
Cost: $25/person, free for children under 12.
California Wine Festival, September 24 to 25, 2021
The California Wine Festival is returning to Santa Barbara for its signature weekend wine event. For two savory days, there will be no shortage of fun (or wine) in The American Riviera®. Join the festivities as locals and visitors alike safely gather to celebrate the return of festival favorites, including two unique experiences. Begin the weekend on Friday, September 24 with a champagne reception, followed by a romantic evening of rare wine tastings under the stars at Santa Barbara’s charming old-world Carousel House. At the weekend’s pinnacle event, the Beachside Wine Festival, wine lovers will safely gather at East Beach on Saturday, September 25 for a sun-splashed day of sun, sea, wine, food, and music. Learn More
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
Arts & Culture
Butterflies Alive! at Museum of Natural History, Now through September 6, 2021
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is pleased to welcome you back to experience the beloved summer exhibit, Butterflies Alive! Featuring 1,000 live butterflies fluttering freely around, you’ll get to see local favorites like the Monarch to exotic varieties like swallowtails, longwings, Gulf Fritillaries, and Malachites. Beautiful flowers and foliage provide butterflies with plenty of nectar and roosting space. In this tranquil garden atmosphere, guests can discuss butterfly behavior and biology with trained volunteer interpreters. Plan to make a return visit as various butterfly species cycle through the pavilion throughout the summer, so no two visits are the same. Be sure to plan ahead as reservations are required for admission. Learn More
Rodrigo Y Gabriela at Arlington Theatre, September 14, 2021
Get your dancing shoes ready for Rodrigo y Gabriela’s show at the stunning Arlington Theatre this September. The duo is renowned for their classic Mexican acoustic guitar performances, and their flamenco guitar duets will be sure to have you stomping and clapping all night. Tickets can be purchased online, and don’t wait, because this show is guaranteed to be sold out! Learn More
LunchBoxing with Lasers at MOXI, Now through September 16, 2021
For a limited time, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is hosting its first new art installation known as LunchBoxing with Lasers by Mike Gould. On display in the Interactive Media Theater on the second floor of the museum, guests of all ages are invited to experience the exhibit, which includes a laser light show that becomes instantly engaging with the help of a few vintage metal lunch boxes. Learn More
Heritage, Craft & Evolution: Surfboard Design 1885-1959 at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Now through October 30, 2021
Dive into the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s newest exhibit: Heritage, Craft & Evolution: Surfboard Design 1885-1959. The exploratory installations combine historic replica surfboards, paintings, and photographs of key pioneers of surfing and their beaches. This exhibit, and the book that accompanies it, is truly unique for the way it tells the stories of California surfing, surfing pioneers, and surfboard design through a multimedia approach, combining art, history, and photography. Learn More
Symbiotic – Seven Contemporary Sculptors at Historic Casa del Herrero, Now through November 24, 2021
For the first time in its history, the iconic Casa del Herrero will be hosting Symbiotic – Seven Contemporary Sculptors at Historic Casa del Herrero, a sculpture exhibition with artwork placed throughout the estate’s historic garden spaces. Participating artists include Isaac Anguiano, Béla Bácsi, Robert J. Emmons, Pattie Porter Firestone, Victoria Hendler, Joan Rosenberg-Dent, and Lynda Weinman. You won’t want to miss your chance to discover the Casa del Herrero gardens as they are beautiful, natural works of art now complemented by incredible sculptures. Tickets can be purchased by calling Casa del Herrero at (805) 565-5653. Learn More
Santa Barbara Bowl Summer 2021 Lineup, Ongoing
Live music and in-person 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 spot provides an ocean view set in the foothills of Santa Barbara’s Riviera neighborhood. While concerts are still being announced, the current lineup includes Jackson Brown (September 5), John Legend (September 16), HAIM (September 17), Trevor Noah (September 18), Gary Clark Jr. (September 19), My Morning Jacket (September 23), Lord Huron (September 28), Foreigner Orchestral (October 2), Van Morrison (October 3), Brothers Osborne (October 13), Wilco (October 20) and Glass Animals (October 27 & 28). Learn More
Granada Theatre’s Roar & Pour with Good Lion and Opera Santa Barbara, Every Thursday
Presented in collaboration with The Granada Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, and The Good Lion, Roar & Pour is where downtown Santa Barbara meets the best of local musical talent. Pull up a chair, order a specialty cocktail from The Good Lion, and enjoy incredible music under the stars (and the iconic Granada Theatre lights)! The weekly live music showcase includes acts such as the Santa Barbara Jazz Collective, and the Academy, a Santa Barbara based party band. Put your dancing shoes on and get down to State Street, where the party is swinging! Learn More
Lobero Theatre Summer 2021 Lineup, Ongoing
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 theatre. Founded in 1873, this cultural gem is admired for its architecture and known as a favorite venue among performers like actor and musician Jeff Bridges. This summer, don’t miss their lineup of live music including The Milk Carton Kids (August 31), and Bianca Del Rio: Unsanitized (September 28). Learn More
Food & Drink
Taste of El Encanto, Colgin Cellars Experience, September 12-14, 2021
El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel will host this special two-night event on its stunning Riviera hideaway property. Guests will enjoy an array of delicious dinners and entertaining tasting workshops with Paul Roberts, COO of Colgin Cellars, and El Encanto’s in-house experts. The two-night package includes breakfasts, the “Taste like a Sommelier” workshop with Paul Roberts, a “Bringing Colgin Cellars to You” pairing and tasting experience, a 6-course wine dinner, and a Colgin Cellars “IX Estate” 2018 half-bottle turndown gift. Book this one-of-a-kind package with a loved one, and you’re guaranteed to have an unbeatably memorable Santa Barbara escape. Learn More
Price: The two-night minimum experience for two people starts at $4,331 per room + tax.
International Dining Experiences at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, Ongoing
Just in time for summer, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara ups the ante with new culinary programming, transporting your taste buds on a global tour to Japan, South America, and France. San Setto welcomes guests for an intimate dining experience on the seaside terrace of Angel Oak and features a contemporary Japanese menu highlighting sushi, saké, craft cocktails, and occidental spirits. Led by Angel Oak’s in-house Master Chef Efe Onoglu, your meal is guaranteed fresh with premium fish flown in daily. From Mexico to Brazil, ‘O’ Bar + Kitchen unveils a new Latin menu with authentic dishes and a reimagined cocktail program. Menu highlights include Mini Santa Barbara Tuna Tostada, Lamb Barbacoa, and Argentinian Style Churrasco Steak. The scenic venue delivers a reinvigorated experience in the elegant indoor-outdoor space with festive flair and flavor. And to top it all off, cheers to France with a new nightly Golden Hour Champagne Bar by Veuve Cliquot. With the iconic Channel Islands as a photo-worthy backdrop, the festive Veuve Clicquot champagne bar promises the ultimate oceanfront relaxation all summer long. Learn More
Sipping on the Sea with Santa Barbara Sailing Center, June through October
Set sail with the fresh ocean breeze and a chilled glass of local libations at Sipping on the Sea. Each month from June 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 will feature Topa Topa Brewing (August 19). Learn More
Sunsets at Sunstone Vineyards & Winery, Every Friday
Raise a glass and cheers to a summer you’ll never forget. At Sunstone Vineyards and Winery, extended Friday hours make savoring a glass of wine among the vines and beneath a vibrant sunset sky a must-do for any getaway to Santa Barbara. Open until 8 p.m. with the last call at 7:30 p.m., ring in the weekend with live music, great food, and wines by the glass or bottle. Learn More
Mountains to Beaches
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 beaches 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. Reenergize with a sunrise salutation or leisurely walk on the beach. Our panoramic ocean and mountain views can be downright cathartic.
Get On, Above, and Under 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 surfing breaks. For a more chill 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 paddle board. 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 is a super bike-friendly town. 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.
Santa Barbara’s majestic wilderness is filled with unexpected finds and hidden gems, including some wonderful waterfalls. This summer, why not go on an invigorating outdoor adventure chasing waterfalls and soaking up Mother Nature’s stunning attributes? For beginning to intermediate hikers, these four waterfalls are worth the journey no matter the size and power of the falls themselves.
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.