When is the right time to visit Santa Barbara?

Thank you for your interest in traveling to the Santa Barbara South Coast! We know the waiting has been hard, especially for you avid travelers and adventurous spirits out there. We are right there with you! We too can’t wait to see you back here, and we thank you for your patience while we wait for public officials to give leisure travel the green light.

Our hotels and local business community have been hard at work preparing for your return, implementing operational and physical changes with your health and safety in mind. So, when you’re ready to take a social-distancing-friendly escape, you can rest easy knowing that the Santa Barbara South Coast will be the ultimate place for you and your loved ones to retreat.


As Santa Barbara waits to welcome you back, it’s important to know what is and isn’t allowed during California’s statewide safer at home order. Before traveling to Santa Barbara, here are a few important FAQs your should be aware of:

When is the right time to visit Santa Barbara? There are four key stages to Santa Barbara County’s reopening on the road back to “business as usual.” Santa Barbara County is currently in Stage 2 of the state’s plan for reopening. Leisure travel is expected to be a part of Stage 3.

I am an essential traveler, coming for work, quarantining, or caring for others. Am I allowed to travel to Santa Barbara? If you fall within the category of “essential traveler,” including medical first responders, workers in essential sectors, those self-isolating/quarantining, or caring for vulnerable people, you are allowed to travel to Santa Barbara County and stay in open hotels and other lodging properties. 

I am a leisure traveler, coming for a vacation or an overnight stay. Am I allowed to travel to Santa Barbara? If you are not an essential traveler, you are NOT permitted to visit Santa Barbara County until we move into Stage 3 of the reopening plan. Area hotels and lodging are restricted from accepting leisure travelers. 

Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to provide you with a specific reopening date, it is still unclear as to when our county will be able to move into Stage 3. We encourage future visitors to confirm in advance all reservations and travel plans directly with their service providers, businesses, and attractions. 

What is currently open in Santa Barbara?* 

  • Restaurants, as well as bars and wineries serving food, are allowed to reopen for dine-in service. 
  • Restaurants offering delivery service or curbside pickup.
  • Retail stores and shopping malls are allowed to reopen for shopping and many also offer curbside pickup.
  • Hair salons and barbershops 
  • Public hiking trails, beaches, bluffs, and parks 
  • Golf courses
  • Santa Barbara Municipal Airport 
  • Amtrak trains
  • Roads and highways 

*Please check with individual businesses to confirm business hours, available services, and individual guidelines. 

What is currently closed in Santa Barbara? 

  • Indoor museums, theatres, day spas/nail salons, standalone bars, and wineries that do not serve food.
  • Public play structures and exercise equipment.
  • All state park campgrounds are temporarily closed for overnight stays for leisure visitors.
  • Some events through early August, including sporting events and shows at theatres, are canceled or have been rescheduled, due to the state order prohibiting large gatherings. 
  • Santa Barbara Airbus has temporarily suspended service.

How can I prepare for a trip to Santa Barbara?
As we wait to welcome leisure guests back to Santa Barbara, there are few things you can do to prepare for your upcoming stay. 

  • Know the Basics of Responsible Travel
    • All individuals are required to wear a face mask when inside of, in line to enter, or when conducting business through a car window or walk-up counter with any businesses including but not limited to restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, laundromats, pharmacies, and government agencies. Additionally, a face mask must be worn when using public transportation, a private car service, or a ride-sharing vehicle. 
    • Please keep your distance and remain 6 feet apart at all times. 
    • When traveling on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara between Haley and Sola blocks, vehicular traffic has been restricted. Please use the street for walking, as many restaurants are have expanded service onto the sidewalks. Bikes should proceed slowly. 
  • Follow Healthy Travel Practices
    • The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) have advised travelers throughout the world to follow best-health practices any time when traveling, including:
      • Stay home if you are sick
      • Avoid contact with people who are sick
      • Wash hands often
      • Cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue
      • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

Additional information on Coronavirus & travel

Please note that worldwide and throughout the U.S., conditions around COVID-19 are rapidly evolving.


Last updated: 5/29/20 @ 11 a.m.