Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara: The name alone conjures up images of beautiful beaches with palm trees, charming houses, and elegant Spanish architecture. Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Santa Barbara that you shouldn’t miss.

1. Mission Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Barbara tops the list of the best things to do in Santa Barbara. The city’s most recognizable landmark is Mission Santa Barbara. This exceptional building dubbed the “Queen of Missions” for its graceful beauty and picturesque setting, has shaped the face of the entire city. After a major earthquake destroyed much of Santa Barbara in 1925, the city was rebuilt in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, inspired by Mission Santa Barbara. Since its founding in 1786, it is California’s only surviving mission with Franciscans and a community of Franciscan brothers still living here today.

Most visitors spend an hour or two on a self-guided tour, and guided tours are available on certain days. The church is a popular tourist attraction. It was completed in 1820 by the Chumash Indians led by Father Antonio Ripoli after an earthquake of 1812 destroyed the original chapel and surrounding buildings. The façade of the Roman temple, the twin towers (unique among the missions), sculptures, and colonial art are among the highlights. Today, the mission serves as a parish church, providing an evocative setting for a Sunday service.

Also within the complex is a museum displaying colonial art and many interesting artifacts. The beautiful historic La Huerta garden, with missionary plants such as citrus fruits, grapes, pomegranates, and prickly pears, is especially worth a visit. The cemetery is another stop on the self-guided tour. Many prominent early Spaniards, as well as 4,000 Chumash Indians, were buried here. After the mission tour, cross the street to explore the ruins of the old mission aqueduct, built by the Chumash Indians in 1806. Alternatively, take time to visit the fragrant Mission Rose Garden. One of the best things to do in Santa Barbara for couples is a romantic picnic.

Address: 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, California.

2. Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is #2 on the list of the best things to do in Santa Barbara. Stearns Wharf offers spectacular views of the harbor and beaches, surrounded by the Santa Ynez Mountains. This iconic Santa Barbara Pier is located at the end of State Street in the heart of the waterfront, and strolling here for some photos is one of the best free things to do in Santa Barbara. Stearns Wharf was built in 1872 and was at the time the longest deepwater pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Today, this tourist attraction is home to specialty shops, restaurants, and the Sea Center, one of the two sites of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

If you’re bringing kids, taking the Lil’ Toot water taxi from Santa Barbara Harbor is a fun way to get there. Upon arrival, you can enjoy ice cream and walk around with the kids to soak up the atmosphere. As you watch the water, keep an eye out for harbor seals, and if you have budding anglers in the family, stop by the bait and tackle shop and drop the line at the end of the jetty. Would you like to stay near this bustling tourist spot? On either side of the jetty, some of Santa Barbara’s best resorts and excellent Santa Barbara restaurants overlook the ocean. 

Address: 217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

3. Climb the Clock Tower at Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Climbing the Clock Tower at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse ranked 3rd on the list of the best things to do in Santa Barbara. This National (and State) Historic Landmark, completed in 1929 after an earthquake destroyed much of the city in 1925, is one of the city’s architectural gems. This is one of the best places to visit in Santa Barbara, not only because of the beautiful architecture but also because of the breathtaking views of the city from the clock tower. This eye-catching landmark occupies an entire neighborhood in downtown Santa Barbara and is an example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. As you wander through the tiled hallways, notice the hand-painted ceilings, ornate tiles (some from Tunisia and Spain), and wrought-iron chandeliers. The mural room depicting Santa Barbara’s history is another highlight. Free scheduled guided tours are available. A beautiful sunken garden surrounds the court, with palm trees and plants from over 25 different countries. Concerts, community events, and weddings are regularly held here, as well as some of the sexiest dance performances in early August, the Fiesta celebrations.

Photographers, please note: For one of the best photo opportunities in town, take the elevator to the top of the 85-foot El Mirador clock tower for sweeping views of the city’s red-tiled rooftops toward the ocean. It is also a popular place for marriage proposals.

Address: 1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, California.


Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

4. Bike, Skate, or Stroll along the Cabrillo Bike Path

Biking, skateboarding, or strolling along the Cabrillo Bike Path is #4 on the list of the best things to do in Santa Barbara. Looking for a way to exercise while sightseeing? One of the most popular activities in Santa Barbara is biking along the river on the Cabrillo Bike Path. Tall palm trees wind overhead, the sea breeze blows cool, and you can cycle between some of Santa Barbara’s best beaches and attractions.

Looking for a place to rent a bike? The majority of rental shops are located along Cabrillo Avenue, directly across from Stearns Pier, and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a bike style. There are beach cruisers, mountain bikes, Taga bikes, buggies, Deuce coupes, go-karts, and scooters for hire. Are you traveling with children? You can even rent a Surrey with a headband for a family of four.

Cycle for miles in any direction on the bike path. Cycling east from Stearns Wharf, you’ll pass the Grand Estates to Montecito Butterfly Beach. Leadbetter Beach is to the west. Stop for a bite at Santa Barbara Harbor or Shoreline Beach Cafe, where you can dine on the sand.

Address: Santa Barbara, CA, CA 93101.


Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

5. Relax on Santa Barbara’s Beaches

The beaches of Santa Barbara are some of the most beautiful in Southern California. The south-facing coastline, backed by the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains and protected by the offshore Channel Islands, offers sand and sea perfect for all types of beachgoers. Visitors flock to the East and West beaches. These two beaches, stretching in both directions from Stearns Pier, capture classic images of the California coast. Tall palm trees line the beach and volleyball nets stretch across the soft sand. Head west on the Cabrillo Bike Trail from West Beach for a sheltered surfer’s paradise at Leadbetter Beach. Head east on the bike path to the small and quaint Butterfly Beach in upscale Montecito, a great spot for picnicking and people-watching.

Looking for a family beach in Santa Barbara? Hendry is a great choice. This local favorite, officially Arroyo Burro County Beach Park, features gentle waves, great beachfront restaurants, and seasonal lifeguards. Best of all, your dog can run freely on the leash-free area of ​​the beach. And if you’re just looking for the best sandbags for sunbathing, you’re in luck! All of Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches offer beautiful scenery, soft sand, and near-year-round sunshine.

6. Santa Barbara Zoo

One of the best things to do in Santa Barbara with kids is to visit the wonderful Santa Barbara Zoo. The zoo covers more than 30 acres and is located on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The wide open spaces and lush gardens of palm trees and native plants make it look like a botanical garden, making it a delightful place for a stroll.

You will find an impressive variety of animals for such a small zoo. Lions, snow leopards, California vultures, meerkats, and the excellent western lowland gorilla exhibit are among the highlights. Even better, there are lots of fun interactive experiences for kids. Children can feed the animals in the cage and feed the giraffes themselves. Don’t miss Australia’s new Walkabout exhibit, which features kangaroos, emus, and wallabies.\

Hop aboard the zoo for a quick look at the exhibits or just to rest your feet. It surrounds the exhibits, providing views of Santa Barbara along the way. The Santa Barbara Zoo also hosts a packed schedule of family fun events throughout the year, including Boo at the Zoo and Sleepover Safaris. 

Address: 500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara, California.


Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

7. Go Whale Watching

Few things are more exciting than watching a humpback whale emerge from the ocean, and Santa Barbara offers a front-row seat. The whale-watching cruise will put you in action. The Santa Barbara Canal is home to more than 27 different species of whales and dolphins, making it one of the best places in the country to see marine mammals in the wild. Humpback and blue whales feed here from May to November, and gray whales migrate along the Santa Barbara coast during their northern and southern migrations.

Even if you don’t see whales, you’re sure to see dolphins, sea lions, and even killer whales. One of the most popular whale-watching excursions is on the Condor Express, which also guarantees whale sightings – if you don’t see any marine animals on your itinerary, you can take another one Free throughout the season.

Address: King Street Wharf 7 Pyrmont, NSW, Australia 2000.


Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

8. Visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Sea Center

This wonderful museum features fascinating exhibits on the natural history of the area for more than a century. The museum currently has two facilities:

Mission Canyon, nestled in a beautiful oak grove along Mission Creek, and Sea Center on Stearns Wharf, offer a glimpse into the underwater world of the Santa Barbara Canal. The Mission Canyon campus features a 72-foot life-size blue whale skeleton at the entrance, which is a great exhibit to view before embarking on a whale-watching excursion.

Other popular exhibits include the Chumash Indian exhibits, Mammal Hall, Gladwin Planetarium, which features interactive space exploration exhibits, and a beautiful forest trail along the creek. The permanent collection is supplemented by special exhibitions. Don’t miss the live butterflies! Exhibits throughout the summer! See these winged beauties up close in this exhibition.

The Sea Center, with its stunning water views, is also ideal for families with children. Here you can touch a baby shark, feel the texture of anemone tentacles, hug a hermit crab, and see alien jellyfish. Other interactive exhibits involve trapping in crab traps, studying animal behavior, and examining microscopic marine life.

Address: 2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, California.


Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

9. MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

Ever wanted to create sound effects for a Hollywood movie or play a massive guitar? All of this and more is possible at MOXI. This fascinating science and technology museum is just two blocks from the Santa Barbara waterfront, housed in a beautiful Spanish Colonial-style building with fancy marine-themed accents. , Great Force, and Sky Garden.

At the Innovation Workshop, you can see how 3D printers create objects, build race cars and test them out on a museum track, or take a selfie and use it to create custom mosaics to share. share with your friends. Complete your visit with a view of Santa Barbara from the rooftop terrace, where you can peer through a series of different glasses in the watchtower. Summer camps, after-school classes, and adult-themed nights add to the fun.

Address: 125 State Street, Santa Barbara, California.

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

10. See the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum & Santa Barbara Harbor

On a sunny day, Santa Barbara Harbor is a beautiful place for a stroll. Stroll along the breakwater to find harbor seals, watch sailors maneuver their boats, or enjoy freshly caught seafood. Brophy Bros., a few doors down from the museum, is one of Santa Barbara’s freshest seafood restaurants overlooking the harbor.

After breathing in the salty sea air, you may want to learn more about Santa Barbara’s rich maritime history. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, located on the waterfront, is a must-see. The museum features interesting exhibits on surfing, Channel Island farms, Chumash Indians, and other topics. Do you like fishing and scuba diving? Here you will find a variety of antique equipment, as well as exhibits on military history and model ships.

Changing exhibitions complete the collection, and the Munger Theater shows films and documentaries about the sea. With treasure hunts, an active periscope, and other interactive exhibits, this marine-themed museum is especially appealing to children. From the observation deck on the top floor, photographers can capture stunning images of the harbor and city.

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara


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