Santa Barbara is a must-see place for those visiting Southern California for a number of reasons:
- all-time perfect weather;
- unique natural and urban landscapes;
- various gastronomic options;
- activities for all tastes and budgets (hiking, biking, surfing, kayaking, scuba-diving and camping).
Gorgeous beaches to relax, numerous museums and festivals make this city perfect for both family and romantic trips. It’s an enticing place to eat and drink extraordinarily well, shop a bit and push all your cares off to another day. The city’s car-free campaign has brought urban bike trails and earth-friendly wine tours. Booking hotel rooms in Santa Barbara will help you experience all the perks of the city.
Things to do in Santa Barbara
There are more than 9 top beaches in Santa Barbara, but the most famous are East Beach and West Beach. The first one is the largest, long and sandy with volleyball nets, a play area for kids and a snack bar. The second one is right next to Stearns Wharf and the harbor. To enjoy your vacation near a beach, book one of the waterfront hotels in the area, such as Hilton SB Beachfront Resort, Blue Sands Inn and Santa Barbara Inn.
For a family trip, Santa Barbara Zoo may be worth attending, as it's not very big yet entertaining, especially for young kids. Information panels give details on the animals and their habitats, plus tips for visitors on how to help preserve the creatures' natural environments. Parking is available at an additional cost or the Waterfront shuttle can be used.
The whole city is beautiful, but downtown is the neighborhood where all the action happens. Staying at one of the downtown hotels will allow you to enjoy shopping, dining and sightseeing — all just a stone's throw. This area is walkable and bicycle-friendly — great for travelers without a car.
State Street is the main shopping street with a good mix of chain stores and unique local stores. Apart from the shopping experience, restaurants, and bars along with other food options can be found nearby. Hotels near State Street are among the best places to stay in Santa Barbara, for example, Sandpiper Lodge, Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn and Lemon Tree Inn.
4. The Funk Zone
One of the favorite city districts with hip bars, eateries and numerous wine-tasting rooms, for example famous Riverbench Vineyard&WInery, where you can taste Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and sparkling wines. This artistic neighborhood is adjacent to the Amtrak station and entices tourists with Public Market, where you can try the best local food and drink.
5. Elings Park
This landmark is the largest privately funded park in the USA with dozens of recreation areas and unbelievable city and ocean views. Staying near Elings Park will offer a variety of activities around, such as walking a dog, having a stroll with a family or even holding an event. It's possible to play tennis, ride a bike or have a picnic on the premises.
Where to stay in Santa Barbara?
- University of California is known as the biggest party school in the state with a scenic location on the Pacific coast, so it's certainly worth visiting. While staying near the university, you can take a campus tour or just explore the huge area. Top lodgings near UCSB include Residence Inn SB Goleta, Courtyard SB Goleta and Super 8 by Wyndham SB / Goleta Hotel.
- If you want to immerse yourself in history, staying near the city college will suit you. As well as the university, Santa Barbara City College gives an opportunity to explore the campus, watch what the student's life looks like or look for the cycling trails in the area. Click here to see top accommodations and hotels near Santa Barbara City College. The best among them are Cheshire Cat Inn, Harbor House Inn and Simpson House Inn.
- For a weekend city escape or a business trip, booking one of the hotels near the airport might be the best option, as Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) is located only a 10-minute drive from the city center. Here are the most favored properties nearby including Pacifica Suites, Extended Stay America SB - Calle Real and Ramada by Windham SB Hotel.
- If you don't want to get on a plane, there's an option to travel via Amtrak trains, especially if Santa Barbara is a neighboring state from your starting point. Plus, there's no need to get a shuttle after you arrive, as many Amtrak stations are located just in the middle of the city.
Hotels near Amtrak station include these top deals: Spanish Garden Inn, The Eagle Inn and Hotel Indigo SB.
Best time to visit Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara has a mild climate during the whole year, so it's worth visiting at any time. Yet if you don't want your trip to be more expensive with a lot of people around, the best month with balmy temperatures is April, when the scenic wildflowers of Channel Islands bloom.Summer is the busiest time and that's when beach season begins. The Summer Solstice Celebration parade kicks off the season as the largest single-day event in the County since 1974. Due to Covid-19, many celebrations are transforming into exciting virtual events. As for the autumn, there are smaller crowds, Wine Country harvest festivities and sunny blue skies.The temperatures are around 24 C in July-August and around 18 C in December-January (rainy season).