October in Santa Barbara doesn’t fall short when it comes to iconic festivals and events. Get your avocado, wine and seafood fill this month at the California Avocado Festival, Santa Barbara Vintners Festival and Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival—three things that encompass the essence of the Santa Barbara South Coast.
More reasons to vacation to The American Riviera®: There are fewer crowds, the weather is divine and wine harvest season is in full swing. We’ve got it down to a science: Crisp fall evenings in Santa Barbara call for a rich glass of pinot noir coupled with dinner and a show, or perhaps a sunset sail along the coast (we don’t make the rules). Read on for some of the best ways to welcome autumn in our slice of coastal paradise.
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
From Oct. 4 to 23, you don’t want to miss Pianos on State. Each October, Santa Barbara’s famed downtown corridor is graced with vibrantly designed pianos, decorated by local artists, encouraging locals and visitors to step up to the keys and play a spontaneous tune.
Perhaps one of the most iconic California festivals to take place is the 26th Annual California Avocado Festival, held on Oct. 1 and 2, which features the endless ways to eat an avocado. Attendees can also enjoy local vendors and plenty of live entertainment in the heart of the neighboring town of Carpinteria. Make it a day trip and hop aboard the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, which picks up in both Goleta and Santa Barbara, and makes a stop in Carpinteria. You won’t have to worry about parking or designating a sober driver, and soaking in the coastal views from the railroad car is an added plus to an already quintessential South Coast weekend.
Santa Barbara Wine Country was named Wine Enthusiast’s “2021 Wine Region of the Year,” so, oenophiles, be sure to add the coveted 38th Annual Santa Barbara Vintners Festival to your itinerary this October. On Oct. 8, the festival invites attendees to taste over 50 of the area’s best wine and food purveyors at Old Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, about 33 miles north of Santa Barbara. Want to discover more ways to fill your glass? Check out these unique ways to wine in the Santa Barbara South Coast.
If wine tasting isn’t calling your name, the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention & Festival will also be held on Oct. 8 for its 50th run. Musicians including Bruce Molsky, Rafe Stefanini, Spencer & Rains and more are featured in this year’s lineup at Rancho La Patera & Stow House in Goleta.
One of Santa Barbara’s most beloved seaside events, the Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival, returns for another year of fresh catches and live entertainment on Oct. 15. With local fare being served up—dockside!—all day long, satisfy that seafood craving with dishes like mussel and shrimp paella, fish tacos, uni (sea urchin) straight out of the shell and more. Take home your choice of freshly caught fish and a fisherman can filet them for you on site—a truly “sea-to-table” experience. Get the full waterfront experience and set sail on a free boat ride aboard Azure Seas or Double Dolphin, discounted entry to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum or keep the ocean-faring festivities afloat all weekend long with this seafood lover’s guide to Santa Barbara.
Experienced cyclists are invited to participate in the Ride Santa Barbara 100 on Oct. 22, which offers a variety of cycling events, such as the 100-mile course and 100-kilometer Coastal Route, that challenges riders to put their pedal to the metal as they take in breathtaking views of the city. If you’ve ever dreamed of conquering the famed Gibraltar Road, then this is the cycling event for you.
WAYS TO WINE
While wine tasting is a year-round activity in the Santa Barbara South Coast, there’s something special about sipping newly released varietals in the fall in one of the most coveted wine destinations in the country. Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail takes wine enthusiasts through the streets of Santa Barbara—starting in the Funk Zone and ending in the bustling Presidio neighborhood. In addition to sightseeing your way through urban Santa Barbara, check out this guide to wine tasting here in The American Riviera®.
Pay a visit to multiple vineyards in Santa Barbara wine country during harvest season and learn about the wine-making process with Rooted Vine Tours or Stagecoach Co. Wine Tours Inc. No need to worry about a designated driver—the wine tour companies will do all the driving for you.
MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT
The last Evenings at Elings event of the year is happening on Oct. 21 and features reggae group Third World with openers Soul Majestic and Bombafiya. Extend your summer a little while longer and dance the evening away at this popular outdoor event, complete with food and drink vendors.
October is the last month to enjoy a show under the stars at the Santa Barbara Bowl this year, and it’s guaranteed to go out in Santa Barbara style. Internationally recognized artist and UC Santa Barbara alumni Jack Johnson makes a two-night appearance on Oct. 4 and 5 to bring hits like “Better Together” and “Banana Pancakes” to his former home and alma mater. Australian EDM group RÜFÜS DU SOL takes the stage on Oct. 8 for their first-ever appearance at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and Death Cab For Cutie closes out the 2022 season on Oct. 19.
Hit the Lobero Theatre for a variety of live performances this October with these shows: BENISE: Spanish Nights (Oct. 1), An Evening with The Wallflowers (Oct. 7), HUMANITY presented by Nebula Dance Lab (Oct. 13), Vir Das (Oct. 20) and Juilliard String Quartet (Oct. 24). Over at the historic Arlington Theatre, “Call Me Maybe” pop artist Carly Rae Jepsen is slated to perform on Oct. 20.
Of course, Halloween in Santa Barbara is full of tricks—and treats!—so come dressed your best to enjoy these ways to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve this year. From pumpkin patches and corn mazes to Halloween-themed events at some of your favorite Santa Barbara attractions, there are plenty of spooks to be had in The American Riviera®.
BOOK YOUR STAY
Vacationing in Santa Barbara has never been more enticing: When you book two nights at participating hotels, your third night is on us (because two days just isn’t enough!). Kick back, relax—and stay awhile—because there’s plenty of fun to be had in The American Riviera®.