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36 Best Things To Do In Santa Barbara, California - Updated 2020

things to do in santa barbara california
Devin
Devin
Updated

Santa Barbara isn’t just the setting of one of my favorite TV shows (Psych); it’s an artsy beach town in southern California. Endless beaches, tourist worthy piers and museums, lush gardens, and historic taverns are just some of the things you’ll find here.

Kids & Family-friendly attractions in Santa Barbara

1. Start by exploring State Street

State Street, Santa Barbara
Source: Photo by user Juan Carlos! used under CC BY 2.0

State Street is part of the main hub of downtown Santa Barbara, full of shops, restaurants, and interesting things to see. Santa Barbara has a love of art, so if you’re there on a Sunday you’ll likely see an art walk, where artists from all over the county come to display and sell their work. The Santa Barbara Courthouse is also an interesting site, known for its architecture and incredible panoramic views.

State Street

Address: State Street, Santa Barbara, California

Website: State Street

2. Go to Shoreline Park

A walk in the park
Source: Photo by user Damian Gadal used under CC BY 2.0

Shoreline Park is located on the bluffs of Santa Barbara; there’s plenty of grassy areas and paths to walk around on, and you’ll have great views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the ocean from the cliffs—I’ve heard it’s also great for whale watching. If you want to get closer to the ocean, there’s a staircase down to the beach; another ramp at the end of the park leads to Leadbetter Beach.

Shoreline Park

Address: Shoreline Drive and San Nicolas Avenue, Santa Barbara, California

Website: Shoreline Park

3. Have a photo op at Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
Source: Photo by user Brian used under CC BY 2.0

Dubbed the number one tourist spot in Santa Barbara, this gorgeous pier boasts some of Santa Barbara’s best restaurants, some unique recreational activities, and plenty of souvenir and specialty shops. You can visit the Sea Center and play with some marine life, do some fishing, get your fortune told, take some epic pictures, and more!

Stearns Wharf

Address: 219 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, California

Website: Stearns Wharf

4. Tour the Old Mission

The Old Mission
Source: Photo by user David Merrett used under CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1786 by the Spanish Franciscans, this beautiful historic church is open for tours, and its grounds also include acres of gardens (including a historical garden), a cemetery with a mausoleum, and a museum with a gift shop. One of the cool things about it is that the Franciscan friars and their parish are still active here, and you can either take a tour with a guide, or take a self-guided tour.

Old Mission

Address: 2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, California

Website: Santa Barbara Mission

5. Immerse yourself in Lotusland

Lotusland is a public garden with 21 different gardens, including a topiary garden, an Australian garden, two different orchards with around 100 fruit trees, a theatre garden with statues and a horticultural clock, and so much more; there is, of course, also the Lotus flowers in the water garden, which was once a swimming pool. A special note about Lotusland: You must have a tour reservation to visit here, because it is located in a residential neighborhood; self-guided tours are for members only.

Lotusland

Address: Note about address: If you are not a member, you must schedule a tour; an address and directions to Lotusland are mailed to you after you confirm your tour reservation

Website: Lotusland

6. Hang out with animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Santa Barbara Zoo Penguin exhibit
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Takinzinnia used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Who doesn’t love a zoo right? Well, aside from seeing all the awesome animals, the Santa Barbara Zoo also has some interesting attractions, such as visiting the Animal Kitchen to watch the food be prepared for all the zoo animals, be an honorary zookeeper for a day and help care for some animals or take a behind-the-scenes tour, or even feed a giraffe! (Yes, you really can feed a giraffe with your hands!).

Santa Barbara Zoo

Address: 500 Niños Drive, Santa Barbara, California

Website: Santa Barbara Zoo

7. Eat at the Cold Spring Tavern

SAM_0057
Source: Photo by user Jiposhy .com used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Cold Spring Tavern was built in 1886, and back then it was a stagecoach stop and way station. Today, this piece of history has been preserved, and aside from the tavern and bar itself, the property also has a few other historical buildings. Come for the great food, the history, and the musical entertainment.

Cold Spring Tavern

Address: 5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara, California

Website: Cold Spring Tavern

8. Enjoy the Santa Barbara Waterfront

Santa Barbara
Source: Photo by user Michael Theis used under CC BY-ND 2.0

If you’re looking for even more beachside activities, try the Santa Barbara Waterfront. Though it includes some of the places I’ve already mentioned (such as the beaches and Stearns Wharf), there are other areas, such as the harbor and Chase Palm Park, which includes a skate park called Skater’s Point. You can also board the waterfront shuttle (which runs every half hour from midday to sunset), or go on a whale watching tour.

Santa Barbara Waterfront

Address: 132 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, California

Website: Santa Barbara Waterfront

9. Watch pelicans dive-bomb for fish at Stearns Wharf

Beach and Pier (3600745113)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Damian Gadal used under CC BY 2.0

On a sunny day in sun-kissed Southern California, set aside time to stroll along Santa Barbara’s historic deep-water pier, Stearns Wharf. Why not dive into Sea Centre along with your little ones to encounter some of the city’s intriguing marine life? Afterwards, wander over to the Harbour Restaurant to enjoy striking panoramas of the Pacific Ocean while dining on succulent seafood. During summer months, you’ll be treated to brown pelicans dive-bombing into the ocean for meals. Be sure to stop by Deep Sea Tasting Room to sample some regionally produced wines. Before leaving SoCal, share a super-fudgy banana split at a local fave: Great Pacific Ice Cream Co.

Stearns Wharf

Address: 217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: Stearns Wharf

Opening hours: 8am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Free

10. Seek spirituality at Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bernard Gagnon used under CC BY-SA 3.0

While in Santa Barbara, visitors and those of the Catholic faith are welcome to congregate at Mission Santa Barbara. The landmark 1786 Spanish mission offers stirring spiritual sermons throughout the week. After the final hymn and prayer are completed, check out the ancient art and artefacts displayed throughout the building. Then, walk amongst the enchanting roses in the garden while reflecting on the spiritual lessons learned that day.

Mission Santa Barbara

Address: 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

Website: Mission Santa Barbara

Price: Free

11. Surf's up at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park

Goes with the territory (6267568195)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Damian Gadal used under CC BY 2.0

While experiencing Southern California’s pristine coastline, drive over to Arroyo Burro Beach County Park for some relaxation. Lay out your beach mat and prepare to soak up Cali’s golden rays while listening to the waves crash on the shore. Young ones will love splashing in the cool surf and building sandcastles. As you watch local surfers ride the waves, scan the horizon for whales breaching off in the distance. You may be treated to sightings of blue whales passing through these shimmering waters. Finish off the afternoon with a seaside picnic while watching the sun descend over the Pacific Ocean.

Arroyo Burro Beach County Park

Address: 2981 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States

Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)

Price: Free

12. Stroll under Shoreline Park's swaying palms

SB ShorelineParkWest 20150916
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Niranjan Arminius used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Visitors to sunny Santa Barbara should definitely arrange for a beach day at popular Shoreline Park. After descending the wooden stairway to the beach, pitch your umbrella or lay out your towel for a leisurely day of sunbathing on the golden sands. For outdoor enthusiasts, why not try paddleboarding or surfing alongside the locals during your visit to Shoreline Park? Watch as children frolic in the waves with their playful four-legged family members. Try to extend your visit to sunset to capture that breathtaking moment when the sun descends against the backdrop of the swaying date palms.

Shoreline Park

Address: Shoreline Drive & Santa Rosa Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States

Opening hours: 8am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Free

13. Admire the native flora at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Source: Photo by Flickr user bgwashburn used under CC BY 2.0

Nature lovers will be satisfied by the thousands of species of rare native flora on display at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. After wandering through the dry desert section with its cactus and shrubs, head straight for the Redwood trail area. The Redwood trail section provides a thick canopy of ancient, towering sequoias that provide shade to guests on hot days. Next, stop at the Japanese tea house for a cup of green tea in a peaceful garden setting before tackling Campbell Trail. While traversing the gardens, guests will encounter fountains, ponds, and stunning mountain vistas. Travellers with pets and children will enjoy skipping playfully through the vibrant, wildflower-filled meadows.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

Website: Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 8 - 16 USD

Hiking/hills

14. Stop to smell the roses at Mission Rose Garden

SB MissionParkACPostelRose 20150916 (22171897982)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Niranjan Arminius used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Those looking for a peaceful place to enjoy the beauty of Santa Barbara should consider a visit to Mission Rose Garden. Located adjacent to the historic Santa Barbara Mission, the garden is a lovely area where you can admire the Santa Ynez mountains. Take your time here, as there are over 1,500 roses in a rainbow of colours, including peach, yellow, pink, lilac, and more. Bring a blanket and pick up a few items to have a picnic on the lawn amongst the rose garden. While enjoying some R&R, delight in the sweet scent of roses and the refreshing coastal breeze.

Mission Rose Garden

Address: 420 Plaza Rubio, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

15. Climb mountains at Rocky Nook Park

SB RockyNookParkSign 20150914 (23568386516)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Niranjan Arminius used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Rocky Nook Park offers visitors the chance to hike among Santa Barbara’s majestic Santa Ynez mountains. Located along Canyon Drive and not far from the Santa Barbara Mission, nature enthusiasts can disappear among the ancient oak and sycamore trees. Put on your running shoes and prepare for a peaceful hike along the park’s earthen trails lined with cactus plants. Be on the lookout and you might just spot cormorants, frogs, squirrels, and other wildlife as you wander through the serene woodlands. Rocky Nook Park is an ideal location to take your pet and children to burn off any excess energy.

Rocky Nook Park

Address: 610 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

Opening hours: 8am - 7pm (daily)

16. Enjoy a family picnic at Skofield Park

SantaBarbaraCA SkofieldPark 20170911
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Niranjan Arminius used under CC BY-SA 4.0

To help burn off that extra energy, take your children to Skofield Park where they can hike on the mountain trails. Be sure to keep an eye on them, as Mission Creek has large boulders which can be slippery when wet. Visitors will enjoy the peaceful mountain trails surrounded by strong oak and sycamore trees inhabited by squirrels and native birds. Skofield Park provides guests with well-shaded areas where they can relax or picnic in grassy meadows surrounded by the Santa Ynez mountains. Sit back and read a novel in peace while your children run gleefully through the park’s verdant meadows.

Skofield Park

Address: Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

17. Work out in Mission Historical Park

SB MissionParkACPostelRoseGarden2 20170912
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Niranjan Arminius used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Mission Historical Park is situated on the grounds of the historic Santa Barbara Mission. With its vast green space, it is an ideal location to participate in a morning workout or picnic. Those visiting the area will discover the city’s old waterworks, tannery vats, and the thick stone walls. While exploring the park, stop to snap some Kodak moments of the Spanish mission accented by the vibrant rose garden and Santa Ynez mountains. You’ll even catch a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean’s sapphire waters in the distance.

Mission Historical Park

Address: Laguna Street &, E Los Olivos Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

18. Experience Sands Beach's spectacular sunsets

Isla Vista Sunset
Source: Photo by Flickr user Carl Jantzen used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Sands Beach’s sandy shoreline is worth the extra effort of crossing through Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve. Upon traversing the hilly grasslands of the wildlife preserve, beachgoers will reach their destination of golden sand. Once they have arrived, they can enjoy sunbathing to nature’s orchestra of seagulls and crashing waves. Families, couples, and solo travellers can observe surfers masterfully conquer the waves from their beach chairs. Don’t leave without experiencing a strikingly beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Sands Beach

Address: Isla Vista, CA 93117, United States

Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)

Price: Free

19. Exercise at Lake Los Carneros Park

Lake Los Carneros
Source: Photo by Flickr user docentjoyce used under CC BY 2.0

Lake Los Carneros Park is a peaceful oasis where locals and visitors can appreciate nature together. During a visit to Santa Barbara, plan for a morning run along Lake Los Carneros’ stunning waterfront. This park is an ideal area to experience nature’s beauty and animal life alone or with others. As you cycle along the wooden walkway, be ready to encounter lizards, turtles, snakes, stately swans, herons, and even rabbits. Be sure to visit in the morning or late afternoon to experience nature without the sometimes desert-like climate. This is especially true when the hot and powerful Santa Ana winds blow through in late summer.

Lake Los Carneros Park

Address: North Los Carneros Road, Goleta, CA 93117, United States

20. Admire Santa Barbara Shores Park's sea cliffs

Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA, CA, USA - panoramio (10)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user greglaskiewicz used under CC BY 3.0

Santa Barbara Shores Park is currently an undeveloped area along Goleta and Santa Barbara’s scenic coastline. The city of Goleta has plans to develop the Ellwood Mesa coastal trail, where residents and visitors will be able to experience the region’s phenomenal coastline. Until then, visitors to this Southern Californian city can wander along the shoreline admiring the towering rugged sea cliffs. Observe the seagulls soaring overhead while being splashed by the Pacific’s frothy swells along the shoreline.

Santa Barbara Shores Park

Address: Goleta, CA 93117, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Activity on beaches

21. Splash with sandpipers at 1000 Steps Beach

Birds at the Beach (42600214702)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Björn S... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

1000 Steps Beach is accessed by means of a stone staircase descending from Shoreline Drive’s residential beach access path. It should be noted that the beach is both a stone and sand beach, which may not be ideal for those with mobility issues. Once at the bottom of the concrete stairway, beach lovers can take in views of jagged seawalls topped with coastal homes. Children will enjoy searching for sand crabs and skipping through the incoming surf alongside sandpipers and seagulls. Beware of deceased sea life and seaweed, which often capture children’s attention but can be a tripping hazard too. Otherwise, enjoy spending time wandering along this scenic stretch of secluded California coastline.

1000 Steps Beach

Address: 1429 Shoreline Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

22. California Dreamin' at More Mesa Beach

Beach in Isla Vista
Source: Photo by Flickr user Glenn Beltz used under CC BY 2.0

While experiencing Santa Barbara’s laid-back California lifestyle, drop by More Mesa Beach. Located in Goleta Valley, the untouched grasslands are perfect for horseback riding. Visitors will experience the stunning golden sand beach set against the backdrop of the powerful Santa Ynez mountain range. However, be aware that since the beach is hidden away, there is a section where clothing is optional. Families and others may be more comfortable playing and sunbathing in More Mesa Beach’s more public sandy stretch.

More Mesa Beach

Address: 1095 Mockingbird Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

23. Create memories at Douglas Family Preserve

Douglas Family Preserve
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CassiniSol used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Gather your family together and head to Douglas Family Preserve to participate in all sorts of outdoor activities. The spacious, undeveloped space is ideal for hiking, cycling, wildlife viewing, and dog-walking. Douglas Family Preserve offers visitors miles of trails to discover Southern California’s naturally amazing Pacific coastline. Those more interested in adventure may try soaring high above the Monterey pine and cypress trees on a hang glider. While travelling through the rugged trail system, be prepared to encounter native wildlife and perhaps an elusive monarch butterfly. After encountering these gentle woodland fairies, gather your brood together to picnic on hot dogs and roasted marshmallows.

Douglas Family Preserve

Address: Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, 2981 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

24. Stargaze at Campus Point Beach

Full Beaver Moon (a supermoon) over Isla Vista & UCSB
Source: Photo by Flickr user Glenn Beltz used under CC BY 2.0

Campus Point Beach offers Santa Barbara’s numerous visitors a fun place to relax with their friends and families. Beginner surfers can watch local pros hang ten on the Pacific’s righteous waves before paddling out themselves. Try to come during the afternoon so you’re shielded from the harmful UV rays and the heat by the beach’s towering sea cliffs. After splashing about in the surf and constructing sandcastles, prepare for an evening of seaside stargazing. As you try to identify the sparkling constellations, listen to the thunderous sound of the waves crashing against the seashore.

Campus Point Beach

Address: Lagoon Road, Isla Vista, CA 93117, Unit

25. Delight in romantic evenings on Haskell's Beach

Sunset at Haskell's Beach
Source: Photo by Flickr user Glenn Beltz used under CC BY 2.0

Haskell’s Beach is a definite must-see beach during your visit to beautiful Santa Barbara, California. This beautiful stretch of powdery, white sand beach is located beneath the luxurious Bacara Resort and Spa, to the west of Goleta and Santa Barbara. After parking in the resort’s public parking area, make your way to the pristine Haskell’s Beach. Then lay back and listen to the waves sweeping along the shore while soaking up the warm California sunshine. Haskell’s Beach is an excellent location to enjoy picnics and sunset strolls along the wooden pier. Don’t forget to create a Kodak moment of a classic SoCal sunset reminiscent of gift shop postcards sold all over the Golden state.

Haskell's Beach

Address: 8301 Hollister Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117

26. Soak up the sun at Hammond's Beach

Beach
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Hammond’s Beach is tucked away amongst private drives and residences in Santa Barbara County’s Montecito region. Sun chasers will be able to enjoy catching some rays while sunbathing along the Pacific’s golden shoreline. Be sure to head out for a swim, go paddleboarding, or go surfing while checking out Hammond’s Beach. This is an ideal place to stroll beachside or to simply gaze in amazement at the lofty Santa Ynez mountains rising above the water. Let your furry friend and little ones run freely along the sand while strolling behind them. Then join in watching stealthy seagulls and brown pelicans dive from the skies for fresh seafood.

Hammond's Beach

Address: 1457 Bonnymede Drive, Santa Barbara, CA

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

27. Ride the waves at Coal Oil Point Reserve

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Surfers And Platform Holly At Sunset</div>
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Glenn Beltz used under CC BY 3.0

Coal Oil Point Reserve is a protected area where Santa Barbara’s wildlife is supported and researched. Each summer, salt flats and ponds are created when the tidal lagoon floods and dries. The reserve provides visitors with a unique opportunity to encounter thousands of migratory birds throughout the year. Beachgoers can enjoy surfing, sunbathing, and romantic sunset strolls accompanied by a symphony of native bird calls. As you watch the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean, be serenaded by an orchestra of seabirds and splashing waves.

Coal Oil Point Reserve

Address: Slough Road, Isla Vista, CA 93117, United States

Website: Coal Oil Point Reserve

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

28. View the Channel Islands from Summerland Beach

Summerland Beach P4070314
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alexander Migl used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Summerland Beach is located below Lookout Park, which is a beachfront park in lovely Summerland, California. When walking along the stunning beachfront, look out for seaweed and driftwood washing up on the shore. Visitors to the beach will be thrilled to experience the golden sand and picturesque views of the Pacific coastline. Following some quiet beach time, climb the stairs to Lookout Park for a volleyball game before watching the sun descend over the Channel Islands. Before the sun sets completely, you may have the pleasure of seeing dolphins frolic playfully in the surf below.

Summerland Beach

Address: 2297 Finney Street, Summerland, CA 93067, United States

Museums to visit in Santa Barbara

29. Gaze at Santa Barbara Museum of Art's fine art

Santa Barbara Museum of Art sculpture court
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jllm06 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Santa Barbara Museum Of Art offers visitors the chance to learn about art history and modern art’s impact on civilization. Schedule time to admire the extraordinary masterpieces on display throughout the gallery. The museum showcases vibrant canvases, marble sculptures, and historical pieces to delight the senses. There are also activity days when visitors and their families can share together in creating crafts and colourful paintings. Before exiting the museum, make certain to purchase some gift shop souvenirs to encourage those who are creatively inclined.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Address: 1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

30. Unearth Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's artefacts

Mammuthus exilis, Santa Barbara, Natural History Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vahe Martirosyan used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History provides visitors with a glimpse of history’s extinct specimens. They can encounter the massive skeleton of “Chad” the blue whale outside before viewing the anthropology exhibits. The anthropology exhibit displays mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds from the local region. Children and adults will be enthralled by the remains of extinct species, including woolly mammoths. Before departing the museum, make sure to check out the craft market to donate to local artists by purchasing creative items.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Address: 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, United States

Website: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 11am - 2pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

Price: 9 - 15 USD

31. Use the force at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation offers visitors innovative exhibits that will keep your mind racing. Your children will be captivated by the various science, math, and art displays throughout MOXI’s three levels. The museum offers so many interactive experiences, including weather-related experiences, so that no visitor will ever be bored. Be sure to visit on special days that offer fun-filled activities for everyone, like Star Wars-themed activities. Don’t exit without filling pegs in the enormous 80’s inspired glow board or snapping a giant guitar selfie.

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

Address: 125 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

32. Discover Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Centre's marine life

Sea stars and sea urchins at the Ty Warner Sea Center
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jllm06 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Centre provides an exciting environment for all ages to learn and encounter Santa Barbara’s marine life. The Live Dive encounter allows visitors the chance to see staff scuba diving off Stearns Wharf and discovering jellies, seals, octopus, and other sea life. Children and adults alike will be amazed by the opportunity to interact with rays, sharks, and stellar starfish in shallow pools. Children will enthusiastically enjoy the experience of crawling through the centre’s glass tunnel to encounter Santa Barbara’s intriguing sea creatures.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Centre

Address: 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Centre

33. Travel back in time at Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Historical Adobe Santa Barbara
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ymblanter used under CC BY-SA 3.0

To learn about California’s history prior to the Spanish invasion, plan a visit to Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Guests can expect to learn about the Chumash civilization prior to and during Spanish and Mexican occupation from the educational exhibits. The museum displays photographs, furnishings, textiles, and artefacts stretching back to the 15th century to educate guests on California’s history. Museum visitors can travel back in time while admiring the ornate costumes reminiscent of the Mask of Zorro film. If possible, grab a seat in the courtyard to experience happy hour complete with festive dancing and live musical performances.

Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Address: 136 E De La Guerra Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)

34. Observe Art, Design & Architecture Museum's creativity

Art, Design, & Architecture Museum at UCSB
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Airickson used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Art, Design & Architecture Museum features over 5,000 art pieces. Those visiting Santa Barbara will be astounded by the sheer amount of oil paintings, photographs, and mixed media displays exhibited here. Fans of Andy Warhol will be able to admire a vast collection of his work. Museum guests will be able to learn about historical and modern-day Californian architecture in the museum’s architectural enclave. To encourage the development of local artists, designers, and architects, please donate before departing.

Art, Design & Architecture Museum

Address: 552 University Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, United States

Website: Art, Design & Architecture Museum

35. Hop over to Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

Sb paseo nuevo
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Apache used under CC BY-SA 1.0

While shopping at the charming Paseo Nuevo Shopping Centre, include a stop at Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. The gallery features travelling exhibits, so if you see something that sparks your interest you should visit before it’s gone. All the artwork featured are cutting-edge pieces designed by both up-and-coming and established artists. The museum offers visitors the chance to learn about and discuss the influence of art on the community. Be sure to make a donation before departing to contribute to the continued creative process of artists. Upon exiting, soak up the California sunshine in the courtyard.

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

Address: 653 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States

Website: Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

36. Explore South Coast Railroad Museum's exhibits

Goleta Train Depot o
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Nic7320 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Finish off your visit to Southern California’s sunny paradise with a visit to South Coast Railroad Museum. Leave the beaches behind to learn about the history of the Southern Pacific Railroad and its historical role in American life. The gracious staff is eager to discuss the technology and the interesting history of the railroad featured in its informative exhibits. Still standing is the original Goleta Depot built along the route connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco. Don’t miss out and hop aboard the train packed with visitors for an exciting ride across the grounds.

South Coast Railroad Museum

Address: 300 N Los Carneros Road, Goleta, CA 93117, United States

Website: South Coast Railroad Museum

Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 1pm - 4pm (closed from Mon - Thu)

Beach town paradise

The cliffs and seas, streets and buildings of this historic and artsy town are so full of charm, it just might be a paradise. Sounds like the perfect place to get away - or to stay.

Frequently asked questions about best things to do in Santa Barbara, California

1. What are the top attractions to visit in Santa Barbara?

One of the most beautiful cities in California, Santa Barbra features numerous must-visit attractions, including Santa Barbara Zoo, Cold Spring Tavern, and Shoreline Park. These top sights will tell you more about the city’s laidback vibe.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Santa Barbara?

Given its coastal location, Santa Barbara offers numerous outdoor activities, ranging from watersports, like windsurfing, to museum-hopping and visiting many green spaces, including Lotusland and Old Mission.

3. What are the best day trips from Santa Barbara?

If you haven’t got a clue where to go and what sights to see near and around Santa Barbara, then make sure you do any of these best day trip destinations: Los Angeles, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Barbara Vineyard.

4. What are the most popular things to do in Santa Barbara with kids?

There are plenty of things to do for kids in Santa Barbara, but what makes exploring Santa Barbara Zoo the most popular is because you get to hang out with different species of animals. Aside from hanging out, you also get to learn a thing or two about them.

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Hello, fellow travel enthusiasts! I am a writer who also happens to love travel and history. Travel has allowed me to be open to new experiences and possibilities, past, present, and future; I...Read more

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