Those who have journeyed to Santa Barbara at any time of the year are well aware of its stunning year-round weather. However, seasoned travelers of the region know that September stands out as one of the most ideal months to experience The American Riviera®. With fewer crowds, an idyllic climate and a plethora of events and festivals to enjoy, it’s needless to say that September in Santa Barbara provides an unparalleled vacationing experience. From exhilarating outdoor escapades to captivating live performances, continue reading to unveil the abundance of Santa Barbara fun in the fall.
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
The Santa Barbara Studio Artists’ 2023 Open Studios Tour returns on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1-4). For four memorable days, artists, gallery owners and art students will open their studios for patrons to discuss and appreciate the art pieces displayed in each gallery along the way. This well-known, highly anticipated event is one of the largest along the Central Coast, so be sure to take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn about some incredible work in sunny Santa Barbara. For additionally enticing activities happening Labor Day Weekend, view our complete guide.
On Sept. 9, discover the unique charm of the Santa Barbara Sea Glass & Ocean Arts Festival, a vibrant coastal event cherished for its local artist collaborations, green initiatives, and inclusive appeal to sea glass enthusiasts, collectors and admirers.
Join Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s Paddle Out Party on Sept. 10, a jubilant community gathering centered around a symbolic paddle out at Leadbetter Beach, where participants—whether paddleboarding, surfing, kayaking or some alternative person-propelled craft—celebrate a shared connection to the ocean and Santa Barbara’s storied maritime legacy.
The Margaritas y Más Festival will be making a welcomed return—and who can say no to unlimited tequila tastings!—on Sept. 23 at Elings Park, where attendees can enjoy live music and local food trucks to pair with libations made with some of Mexico’s finest tequila and mezcal.
This year, the Goleta Lemon Festival will fall on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 for a family-friendly weekend at Girsh Park packed with games, a bounce house, obstacle courses, pie-eating contests, the Goleta Fall Classic Car Show and more. Goleta boasts plenty of other activities, too—just try these five other fun things to do in The Good Land.
There are countless ways to spend an extended weekend in the Santa Barbara South Coast, but this Labor Day and beyond, get inspired to spend it outdoors. Start your morning with a hike at Inspiration Point or a bike ride on a postcard-perfect bike route. If a more adventurous activity is on the bucket list, head out to sea with Channel Island Expeditions for a day-long excursion to Channel Islands National Park. Here, guests can kayak through giant sea caves and snorkel among diverse kelp forests among species unique only to the Channel Islands.
Experience the flora and fauna of the grounds at El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel at its Botanical Afternoon Tea Experience on Sept. 1 (reoccurring on a weekly basis) , where you’ll sip on custom-blended teas based on your sun sign and snack on treats fresh from the kitchen. For more ways to hit the great outdoors, read this three-day guide for nature lovers for unforgettable ways to revel in Mother Nature’s beauty.
At this time of the year, the sun sets over the ocean—making for a picturesque view of an iconic Santa Barbara golden hour. Experience the magic of the evening glow during a sunset kayak with Santa Barbara Adventure Company, a cruise at sea with SunSwept Sailing, dinner on the patio at one of these Santa Barbara restaurants on the beach or a picnic on the sandy shores of Butterfly Beach.
MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT
September in Santa Barbara has a star-studded lineup of performances all month long. Cozy up at the intimate Lobero Theatre, a historic, Spanish Revival-style venue known for its intimate setting, superior acoustics and diverse range of shows, maintaining a strong commitment to community engagement and arts education. See performances from artists like Dave Koz & Friends (Sept. 16), Keb ‘Mo’ (Sept. 22), Hermanoz Gutierrez (Sept. 27), Get The Led Out (Sept. 28) and Benise (Sept. 30).
The Santa Barbara Bowl is a large, open-air amphitheater nestled in a picturesque hillside of east Santa Barbara, renowned for hosting a wide range of concerts in its scenic, outdoor setting. The roster is not shy of amazing shows, either, including Jungle (Sept. 6), The Lumineers (Sept. 12 and 13) Van Morrison (Sept. 16), Goose (Sept. 29) and Odesza (Sept. 30).
BOOK YOUR STAY
Extend your stay (and your dollar) in the Santa Barbara South Coast with a third night free. It’s easy: When you book two nights at participating hotels, your third night is on us. A well-deserved three-day trip to Santa Barbara is calling your name, because two days just isn’t enough. With deals like these, a vacation to The American Riviera® is an easy choice. You’ll thank us later.