Santa Barbara is one of my favorite places to visit in California! With it’s beautiful beaches and lush landscape, dotted with thousands of culinary and winery options makes it a lovely location. Today I wanted to share a list of fun things I recommend you see and do in Santa Barbara.
If you are not familiar with it, Santa Barbara is just a little over an hour away from Los Angeles, (if you happen to go on a day without much traffic). It is a wonderful weekend getaway and there is a lot to do there that showcases California’s best. A recommended first stop is the Visitors Center where you can pick up maps and discount tickets for the zoo, wineries and other events.
The visitors center is located at:
1 Garden St Santa Barbara, CA 93101
You can find information about hotels, restaurants and events here.
I have been there many times and wanted to highlight a few of my favorite spots to visit. The Santa Barbara Beach is a beautiful place to relax and play in the water. Lined with palm trees, restaurants and biking trails, it is a picturesque location that is less crowded than most California beaches. There is paddleboarding, fishing, skating, surfing and camping on some beach areas.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is a great place to take the family. They have over 600 animals there and the setting is so beautiful and peaceful. You can really get up close to the animals and the entire zoo is doable in a few hours.
They also have some great special events there several times a month that I have not seen at other zoos. Their upcoming “Roar and Pour” Festival is an event where the animals stay out late and guests can walk through the scenic Zoo as they sample wines from the Central Coast. Doesn’t that sound fun?
The zoo is situated on a picturesque hilltop right on California’s coast.
The Santa Barbara Mission was founded in 1786 and offers rich lessons in California history. It still functions as a church and offers tours of this 10 mission of California.
There is also some fantastic shopping in Santa Barbara. There are shops that off clothing, vintage records, home decor, arts and crafts and cupcakes and farm fresh produce. State Street offers many wonderful shopping areas. Paseo Nuevo is a lovely shopping center nestled on State Street that has something for everyone. You will find some department stores here and it is great for people watching and enjoying a bite to eat.
There is also a great farmers market on Tuesday and Saturdays.
Of course, I cannot miss mentioning the fabulous wine tasting that is available throughout this region. There are many affordable wineries on state street and in the Funk Zone (a trendy part of town on the urban wine trail). The Funk Zone offers wineries, art galleries, restaurants and breweries all within a few blocks of each other.
One of our favorite restaurants in this area is The Lark, which offers creative farm to table dishes. The atmosphere there is rustic chic and the vibe is friendly and fun. Items are served family style for sharing and the food is always fresh and delicious. We always look to our server for recommendations and are never disappointed.
I visit Santa Barbara several times a year. I would love to hear if you have ever been to Santa Barbara in the comments.