March is undeniably one of the most picture-perfect times to visit Santa Barbara with its countless vibrant displays of color found everywhere on our crescent coast, including everything from wildflowers sprinkled on hillsides to sunsets of every hue. Add temperate weather, incredible music performances and a variety of unique local festivals, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit this spring.
To ensure an eventful and culture-filled stay, read on to discover why March is the ideal time to visit Santa Barbara.
Spring Has Sprung
March in Santa Barbara means it’s time to take advantage of the myriad outdoor adventures our coastal enclave has to offer. March 20 is the official first day of spring, so celebrate the coming of the new season by getting out in nature with a morning bird walk (March 14) or Tai chi (March 24) at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
Another draw to the California coast during March is the prime whale watching. Every year between February and May, Pacific gray whales migrate from the warm waters of Baja California, through the wildlife-rich Santa Barbara Channel, and then to the chilled Alaskan coast, making it one of the longest and most incredible migrations of any mammal. With plenty of on-the-water outfitters for those who prefer an adventurous, full day of powerboating, Condor Express Whale Watching offers wildlife excursions year-round while Celebration Cruises taps into the limited whale watching season. SunSwept Sailing, Santa Barbara Sailing Center and Sunset Kidd Sailing offer more laid-back, intimate experiences in wildlife viewing aboard monohull and double-hulled sailboats.
Whether you need a solo springtime reset and refresh, or plan to bring the whole family for a week of relaxation, consider Santa Barbara your activity-filled, spring break destination.
Live music is blooming this March, kicking off with shows at Lobero Theatre like Ladysmith Black Mambazo (March 2), Los Romeros: The Romero Guitar Quartet (March 4), Charles Lloyd: 85th Birthday Concert (March 10) and Morgan Wade (March 25).
At nearby Granada Theatre, performances like Shakespeare’s famous A Midsummer Night’s Dream (March 4) presented by the acclaimed State Street Ballet, storyteller Siddhartha Mukherjee – The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human (March 8) and the ever-so-graceful Ballet Hispanico (March 11) take the stage.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (March 1) is an institutional favorite in Santa Barbara. Featuring the world’s best films on mountain-climbing thrill-seekers, the tour awes viewers with footage captured in exotic locations across the globe. Between March 2-4 at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, World of Pinot Noir gathers the world’s most respected winemakers, renowned chefs, sommeliers and leading wine scholars in this weekend-long seaside celebration of all things pinot noir.
The 75th Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show invites you to stop and smell the orchids on March 10-12, where visitors can admire orchid exhibits ranging from extravagant art installations, show-stopping floral arrangements, stunning photography and, of course, a wide array of exotic orchid displays.
March 11, Beer-lovers are invited to explore Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s 5.5 miles of walking trails while enjoying one-of-a-kind beers expertly paired with California native plants during The Beer Garden: A Curated Tasting Trail through California’s Native Plants. Engage with the beer curator and knowledgeable docents to learn more about the selection of brews and featured native plants.
Grab your green clothing and head out to one of Santa Barbara’s Irish bars to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. Tap into the luck of the Irish (and maybe a pint or two of Guinness) and hit the streets of downtown Santa Barbara with the Santa Barbara St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. If you’d rather skip the crowd but still want to enjoy a cold pint, discover the Santa Barbara South Coast’s extensive craft beer scene, spanning from Goleta to downtown Santa Barbara. Choose from tons of local and imported IPAs, sour beers, porters and so much more. Many of the breweries also offer games, food and live music.
If you want to keep the good times rolling after the holiday, National Cocktail Day happens to land on March 24, and what better way to celebrate than by sipping on a fruity concoction made with local honey and lavender, or a bourbon-based favorite? Explore numerous and unique watering holes throughout town to find the best cocktails in Santa Barbara.