Travel + Leisure Staff

Taking a trip to the American Riviera? Fun things to do in Santa Barbara are easy to find year-round, thanks to the region’s consistently pleasant weather.

Start a Santa Barbara tour by sampling the fresh fare from the surrounding farms, ranches, and vineyards.  At Brophy Brothers you can shoot oysters and slurp clam chowder right on the harbor. The town’s main drag, State Street, is a mile-long stretch of bistros, bars, restaurants, and shops. Your best bet for dinner is Toma, a waterfront Italian joint straight-from-the-original-Riviera serving gnocchi with rock shrimp and a saffron and tomato broth cioppino.

Make sure to check out one of the region’s many parks while visiting Santa Barbara. Shoreline Park has 14.6 immaculate acres of picnic and barbecue areas, as well as Instagram-worthy bluff-top views. We recommend renting bicycles and cruising the scenic area.

Bucolic roads and 120 boutique wineries make the Santa Ynez Valley a popular destination in its own right. Take a short drive over the mountains to spend an afternoon sipping wines and meandering through grape vines.

What to do in Santa Barbara if you’re a bonafide history buff? The 200-year-old Santa Barbara Mission may be iconic, but it’s hardly over-rated. Inside is an active parish and a mausoleum, but the real highlight is the surrounding 10-acre Mission Historical Park. Take a leisurely stroll through the fragrant rose garden.  

Before you leave, take advantage of Santa Barbara’s warm, sunny disposition by spending a day at one of the best beaches in California, like East or West Beaches divided by famed Stearns Wharf. If sunbathing isn’t your thing, opt for paddle boarding, surfing, or a relaxing (and totally romantic) sunset sailing cruise. You’ll enjoy a new view of Santa Barbara’s skyline, and lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of dolphins or whales playing in the surf.

You May Like