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Things to do in Santa Barbara

With beaches like Santa Barbara's, where even the sand feels more refined than that of L.A. or San Diego, it's easy to fill your days just by walking along the shore. But given the great weather, the colorful history and the amazing shopping, there are many other things to do in Santa Barbara. Some highlights:

  • Ride a bike down the beach. Bike rentals abound in the downtown area, and paved paths extend for miles.
  • Go to a wine tasting. One of the top things to do in Santa Barbara is to take a day trip into the Santa Ynez Valley to visit numerous wineries. If you don't want to make the trek, you can sample and shop at tasting rooms in town, such as Oreana Winery and Santa Barbara Winery.
  • Visit El Presidio State Historic Park. The Spanish military established this stronghold in 1782, and its historic adobe guardhouse is the second oldest building in California.
  • Take a peek at grand homes. Taking a tour of Lotusland is a great (and non-nosy) way to scope out some stunning architecture. The sprawling 37-acre estate was home for decades to Ganna Walska, an eccentric opera singer. The estate has its own outdoor theater, as well as fascinating, over-the-top gardens.
  • Shop State Street. The mix of high-end and mainstream stores makes the area lovelier than your usual Main Street or mall.
  • Plan a kid-friendly outing. The Mission makes for a short but deeply educational visit. The Santa Barbara Zoo is also impressive, and it's small enough that you can cover it thoroughly in less than a day.
  • Arlington Theatre

    The Arlington Theatre resides in the center of downtown’s main drag and evokes another era, complete with Mission Revival architecture and red seat... More
  • Bouchon Bakery, Santa Barbara

    Sample the freshest area produce and meats, including wild boar and colorful local heirloom tomatoes, escargots, pepper-crusted venison. More
  • Butterfly Beach

    Considering the small waves and cool climate, Butterfly Beach isn’t exactly a destination for surfers or sunbathers, but the palm-lined stretch of ... More
  • C'est Cheese

    Part cheese shop and part lunch stop, C'est Cheese sells more than 100 varieties, as well as artisan goods such as jams, olive oils, salumi, and va... More
  • D'Angelo Bread

    Known for its fresh, high-quality baked goods and inventive breakfast dishes, D’Angelo is situated on a side street near downtown Santa Barbara, no... More
  • Jonata Winery

    Charles Banks and business partner Stanley Kroenke, perhaps best known for Screaming Eagle, own this 600-acre winery north of Santa Barbara in the ... More
  • Market Foray

    Eat local by booking one of these guided tours that lead the culinarily curious to fresh foods at the farmers’ market, fishermen’s market, C’est Ch... More
  • Municipal Winemakers

    Thirsty? Indulge in a tipple or two in the airy tasting room at this artsy winemaker, right in the heart of the “Funk Zone” neighborhood. Or, brows... More
  • Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

    Check out the Japanese teahouse and wander through the 65 acres of over 1,000 species of plants and flowers. More
  • Santa Barbara County Courthouse

    The elaborate architecture is equal parts alcazar and Palazzo Vecchio. The view from the clocktower stretches from the Channel Islands to the Santa... More
  • Santa Barbara Mission

    Catch up on early California history at the beautiful, centuries-old Santa Barbara Mission. More
  • Stand Up Paddling Adventures

    The school is located a block from prime paddleboarding territory on East Beach. More

Explore things to do in The Santa Barbara Area for more options.

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