Best Things to See and Do in Santa Barbara, California

"Santa Barbara Harbor"
Go for a kayak ride, followed by oysters at Brophy’s on the Santa Barbara waterfront

Insider Tips to Santa Barbara

Are you visiting Santa Barbara for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do besides hanging out at UC Santa Barbara.

When I have a visitor from out of town, I take them to the beach! East Beach is great for stand-up paddle boarding, Hendry’s Beach is dog-friendly, and Butterfly Beach, in front of the Biltmore, is a great people-watching beach.

"Mission Santa Barbara"
The Rose Garden in front of the Santa Barbara is a quiet place to escape and be alone with your thoughts.

The Rose Garden in front of the Santa Barbara Mission is a quiet place to escape and be alone with your thoughts.

Where to eat in Santa Barbara

If you are looking for typical Santa Barbara cuisine, take a stroll on the waterfront and stop for oysters at Brophy’s or lunch on the patio at Chuck’s Waterfront Grill.

Go to La Super Rica Taqueria for Santa Barbara food on the cheap.

The Wine Cask is where to dine in Santa Barbara if you have deep pockets.

Jeannine’s Restaurant is an institution in Santa Barbara, having been around for 25 years. Both Jeannine’s and Renaud’s are your best bets for breakfast and good coffee.

Roy’s is the spot for late night dining.

"Santa Barbara Summer Solstice"
For great people watching, check out the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration

Things to Do in Santa Barbara

For great people watching, check out the Summer Solstice Parade.

In Santa Barbara, outdoor enthusiasts will want to hike, bike, horseback ride or head to the beach. There is plenty to keep you busy here.

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the Waterfront /Cabrillo Blvd. or down State Street to the beach.

If you are a museum lover, visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

In Santa Barbara, take your picture at Inspiration Point. There are plenty of places for great hikes in Santa Barbara.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta is a great place to learn about Santa Barbara’s local culture.

Wine lovers will want to attend the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival in April.

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"Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade"
Dancers at the Summer Solstice Celebration – one of the things to see and do in Santa Barbara

Shake your booty in Santa Barbara

Enjoy a night out on the town? For a night of dancing in Santa Barbara, go to EOS Lounge or the Wildcat Lounge.

The Santa Barbara Independent will keep you posted on what’s happening in this California beach town.

"Palmer's Indian mallow"
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Palmer’s Indian mallow

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Santa Barbara Botanic Garden for a look at California’s native plants and try the Santa Barbara Wildflower Honey while you are there.

Just outside of Santa Barbara you can visit Carpinteria or Solvang.

The best way to see Santa Barbara is to take a City Tour.

Don’t miss the Santa Barbara Zoo,  Museum of Natural History, or the Maritime Museum if you have kids traveling with you.

What are your favorite things to do in Santa Barbara, California?

For more up-to-date happenings in Santa Barbara, follow Santa Barbara on Twitter and like their page on Facebook. For all things travel related, follow Travel Expert Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.

Thanks to Jennifer Guess and the Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau for assistance with this post.  Article by  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown.

Photo credit of Santa Barbara Mission interior via Kevin Cole flickr. Santa Barbara Summer Solstice photo from website and Santa Barbara Summer Solstice dancers photo courtesy of Cathy Berry.

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Santa Barbara

8 thoughts on “Best Things to See and Do in Santa Barbara, California”

  1. aww i simply loved this post! I was actually looking for some place to travel next year! Santa Barbara sounds nice , and i just fell in love with everything you said , and of course the parade! Do you recommend itfor kids? thanks a lot!

  2. Thanks for sharing some tips for those who will visit Santa Barbara for the first time; that would really help. And I love the parade pictures, so colorful (a reflection of happiness of the people of Santa Barbara).

  3. The Summer Solstice parade is so much fun for kids and adults alike. Lots of color and vibrant decorations, it is one of the best parades in Santa Barbara! Lots of street performances and the party in the park right after is great fun too. Shopping and henna if you like, great food and live music puts the cherry on top of an exceptional day. I went last year and was lucky enough to snag a great spot in an a very affordable hotel! The Sandman Inn. Had to book it a bit in advance but it was well worth it!

  4. Wow it is really amazing that Santa Barbara has these type of activities and beautiful places.

  5. These are some good insider tips to traveling and owning Santa Barbara in every way. As peak season rolls around, prices go up on just about everything and you need to work this town like a local if you want to get out alive and with everything in tact (including your wallet!) Skimp where you can and splurge when you find it necessary. If food and shopping is your priority, skimp everywhere else. There are a ton of fun and free things to do in town during the summer time that will keep you entertained all day long. The beaches, hiking, parades, museums, etc.

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