The Santa Barbara South Coast is ripe with activity during the month of June, whether your goal is to catch a lively polo match, revel in on-the-water tours and entertainment, colorfully celebrate the year-round sunshine in our beachy paradise, or all of the above. Discover what makes our coastal enclave so special, and soak up the energy of Santa Barbara’s many festivals and summer happenings this June.
If you’re itching for a family getaway once school lets out, or are in need of a solo trip to relax and rejuvenate, we’ve compiled a list of inspirational activities that are sure to make for a memorable visit to our small slice of heaven.
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The 48th annual Summer Solstice Celebration (June 24-25) is back with flying colors, literally! Gather in downtown Santa Barbara to usher in the summer season, and revel in the bold costumes, colorful displays, dazzling entertainment and local culture. This year’s festival theme is “shine,” and the Summer Solstice parade on June 25 will surprise and delight visitors of all ages. Live it up at Alameda park, where there will be boutique shopping, live music, a beer and wine garden, and sweet treats galore all weekend.
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s annual fundraiser Zoo Brew (June 4) delights all who arrive to the grassy, ocean view hillside dotted with shaded tents offering unlimited beer tastings and lively entertainment. Taste craft brews from local purveyors and explore the zoo after hours during this iconic summer event.
The inaugural Ceylon International Film Fest (June 10-12) will be hosted at Lobero Theatre to showcase international and Sri Lankan cinema for movie fanatics and film enthusiasts to watch and discuss. The three-day festival is set to screen independent films from around the world and is the first Sri Lankan film fest organized outside of the country.
Starting in June, the highly popular summer series Drinks at Dusk (June 16) is returning to the Sacred Garden at Old Mission Santa Barbara. This is a rare opportunity to stroll the garden, view the beautiful interior architecture, mingle with the Franciscan friars, and savor unlimited wine, beer and small bites for local restaurants. The brilliant pink-hued sunset reflecting off the stunning twin bell towers of one of Santa Barbara’s most recognizable historic landmarks is an unforgettable sight.
Celebrate Juneteenth at the Juneteenth Santa Barbara Block Party (June 19) in the Funk Zone at Shalhoob’s Patio. The annual event welcomes everyone to commemorate the freedom of enslaved African Americans in the United States. This year’s Juneteenth block party is dedicated to Black joy and culture, and will honor local Black artists, business owners, performers, and organizations as well as offer free food, dancing, and singing.
music & Entertainment
Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) at the New Vic presents Sleuth (June 9-26). Right in the heart of the Historic Theatre District at the New Vic, ETC is known for simply incredible shows and housing fantastically talented performers. The Sleuth cast includes John Tufts, and the theatre’s ideal location downtown near myriad restaurants and bars means the show can now be an extended date night.
Santa Barbara is known for its thriving arts and performance scene, and what better than to see a showstopper at Music Academy of the West? See Met Live in HD – Lucia di Lammermoor (June 5) followed by Met Live in HD – Hamlet (June 13). The Academy’s expansive summer festival calendar also includes masterclass performances, community concerts and showcase series all month long, including Takács Quartet in Concert (June 16), Showcase Series: Solo Piano (June 17), the 75th Anniversary Signature Benefit (June 18), Percussion Masterclass (June 23), Community Concert: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Academy Festival Orchestra (June 25) Johannes Brahms Piano Trio No. 1, (June 28) and many more.
For the most memorable outdoor concert experience? Catch one of the following shows during the Santa Barbara Bowl’s jam-packed summer season. You’ll quickly see why the ocean views hit different when accompanied by a cold beer and a glittering light show. Right out of the gate is Rex Orange County (June 1), then Steve Martin & Martin Short (June 17), Rod Stewart (June 18) and finally Brandi Carlile (June 21).
In honor of Stearns Wharf’s 150th anniversary, Wharf Wednesdays will continue from June through October. Commemorate the wharf’s storied history and clap along at the Wharf Wednesday Concert – Tequila Mockingbird (June 1). Local businesses situated on Stearns Wharf will also be offering shopping discounts and specials to celebrate the occasion, so linger with delicious cocktails or dig into an oceanside meal, stroll the shops, and listen to live music as the sun sets on the gorgeous coast. The 360-degree views from the wharf are unbeatable!
Speaking of unbeatable views, Santa Barbara Sailing Center’s Music on the Water series combines live music, refreshing libations, on-the-water panoramas and the fresh ocean breeze, all aboard the Double Dolphin catamaran. Catch David Segall (June 3), Ross Harper (June 10), Gavin Roy (June 17) and Catalina Esteves (June 21). Pali Wine Co will host another local favorite aboard the Double Dolphin, Sipping on the Sea (June 16), where guests will enjoy hand-picked wine for the occasion as they take in the stunning mountain and beach vistas from the water.
Looking for more on-the-water fun? Santa Barbara has a number of outfitters that provide a wide variety of tours and water-based activities for all ages. Santa Barbara Adventure Company and Paddle Sports Center offer a multitude of guided kayaking tours, stand-up paddleboarding, rentals and more for the active-minded. If you want to get out on the water in a more relaxed setting, The Landshark provides land and sea tours of downtown and the harbor, and the amphibious boat is something you’ll need to “sea” to believe! Celebration Cruises provide boats for all occasions, and their fleet includes Lil Toot, Santa Barbara’s legendary water taxi that shuttles riders from Stearns Wharf to the harbor and back. You’re guaranteed to find an aquatic activity that suits your needs.
Polo in Paradise
You won’t want to miss Sunday Polo season at Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, so ladies, pick out your finest dresses and sun hats, while the gentlemen will don their seersucker blazers to watch the thrilling equine sport. The grassy fields boast an iconic ocean view, and the cool sea breeze is a welcome addition to the exhilarating atmosphere. Sip on a chilled glass of Champagne and nibble on charcuterie under the shaded grandstand awning, and cheer for your favorite jockey to score. This season, keep an eye out for the royals also attending the matches, as Prince Harry will be joining team Los Padres as they compete throughout the summer. At halftime, take part in a fun polo tradition and help stomp the divots, where you’ll get a spectacular view from the fields!
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With so many neighborhoods to explore and restaurants to try, you simply can’t grasp all that Santa Barbara has to offer in just two days. Take your time while on the Santa Barbara South Coast and choose from nearly 20 local accommodations offering a 3rd night free when you book a two-night stay. The extra night will open up a world of possibilities for memorable experiences.