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Your guide to Santa Barbara
All About Santa Barbara
Palm-studded Santa Barbara sits on a pristine stretch of California coastline, bringing together the area's Spanish influence, laid-back beach vibe, and upscale sensibility. The city is home to breathtaking nature, inspiring arts and culture, and an incredible variety of food and wine. Known for broad sandy beaches, you can sunbathe or enjoy a breathtaking sunset at East Beach — a favorite located east of State Street, Santa Barbara’s main thoroughfare for boutique shopping and world-class dining. Head over to Leadbetter Beach for surfing, boogie boarding, and paddle boarding.
Outside town, you’ll find an abundance of vineyards and wineries set in the valleys of the Santa Ynez Mountains, and just off the shore is Channel Islands National Park, where you can kayak through caves, snorkel in crystal-clear waters, and hike among wildlife. Sitting at the doorstep of Los Padres National Forest, the nearby Romero Canyon Trailhead offers great opportunities for further hiking or mountain biking. Back in town, history buffs can explore the city’s Spanish heritage at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History or the Santa Barbara Historical Museum before refueling at one of the city’s many dining options, from harbor-side classics, stylish hot spots, and cozy State Street cafes.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Santa Barbara
Those looking for a classic beach vacation will want to come during the summer months, as July and August are when the sun and water are their warmest for swimming and sunbathing. The shoulder seasons — March to May and September to November — are also great times to visit. The weather is still warm, and Santa Barbara vacation home rentals are easier to find. Winters are chilly and wet — December through February sees the most rainfall — but you will be able to enjoy the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January, along with the buzz of Restaurant Week. No matter what time of year you visit, be sure to pack layers as morning and late evening temperatures tend to be cooler.
Top things to do in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Scenic Drive
Hop in your car and explore the riotous colors and classic California scenery of Santa Barbara on this self-guided tour. The Santa Barbara Scenic Drive covers 25 miles of immaculate shoreline beneath the towering Santa Ynez Mountains and through palm-lined roads. The drive itself only takes about one hour, but give yourself half a day to explore the city from Santa Barbara Harbor and marvel at the spectacular mansions in Montecito.
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Step back in time for a glimpse into Santa Barbara’s origins when you visit this California mission. The mission now hosts a museum featuring artifacts of the time and early photographs of the area. Explore the mission grounds, spanning 13 acres, on a leisurely self-guided tour. Don’t miss La Huerta, a garden showcasing flora dating back to the mission's early years.
The Funk Zone
It’s all about the art in the Funk Zone. Once a manufacturing hub and industrial area where artists, surfboard makers, and urban winemakers set up shop, the Funk Zone is now home to hip restaurants, boutiques, wine-tasting rooms, and galleries. Walk the 13-block neighborhood and check out the colorful murals adorning the walls. Grab an Urban Wine Trail map and make your way through the area’s wineries before finishing the day with tacos and burritos on one of the neighborhood’s many patios.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is the weather in Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara boasts a Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Average temperatures range from 65°F (18°C) to 70°F (21°C) year-round. Rainfall is most likely in the winter months, from December to March.
What are some of the best things to do in Santa Barbara?
Visitors often explore the historic Santa Barbara Mission, walk the scenic trails of Lotusland, or take a trip to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. A stroll along State Street is another popular activity, with its shops, restaurants, and theaters. Lastly, many enjoy the stunning views from Stearns Wharf, the oldest working wharf in California.
What is the best time of year to visit Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara has pleasant weather all year round, but summer months, from June to August, are the most popular for visitors. During this time, the city hosts the annual Summer Solstice Parade, a colorful event with floats, costumes, and music. In August, the Old Spanish Days Fiesta, a five-day celebration of the city's Hispanic heritage, takes place.
What are the best places to stay in Santa Barbara?
The Downtown area is a popular place to stay with its restaurants, shops, and close proximity to attractions. West Beach, near the waterfront, offers stunning views and easy beach access. The East Side is well-liked for its quiet atmosphere and historic charm, whilst Montecito offers a more upscale, secluded experience.
What are the best places to visit in Santa Barbara?
Popular places to visit include the historic Santa Barbara Mission, Lotusland's lush gardens, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Additional attractions include the Santa Barbara Zoo and the scenic Stearns Wharf.
What are some hiking trails in Santa Barbara?
Visitors can explore the 3.5-mile (5.6 km) Inspiration Point Trail for panoramic views of the city, or the 2-mile (3.2 km) Seven Falls Trail that leads to a series of waterfalls. The 6.5-mile (10.5 km) Cold Spring Trail is another popular route, offering views of waterfalls and woodland scenery.
What are some family activities to do in Santa Barbara?
Families can explore the Santa Barbara Zoo, which has over 500 animals, or visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. For a day of learning and fun, the MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, might be a great choice. Lastly, Lotusland, a beautiful 37-acre garden estate, is also worth a visit.
What are some of the best day trip ideas in Santa Barbara?
Popular day trips include a visit to the Channel Islands National Park, a boat ride away, or exploring the beautiful vineyards in Santa Ynez Valley. Another option is a trip to the charming Danish-style town of Solvang, which is about an hour's drive away, and is known for its Scandinavian-style architecture and bakeries.
What types of vacation rentals are available in Santa Barbara?
Uncover the perfect home-away-from-home with our diverse selection of vacation rentals in Santa Barbara. From over 880 house rentals, over 240 apartment rentals to over 70 condo rentals, we've got you covered. For even more variety, explore our Airbnb Categories to find the ideal space for your getaway.
Are there vacation rentals with a dedicated workspace in Santa Barbara?
Yes! Work meets play with ease at over 1,040 vacation rentals in Santa Barbara featuring dedicated workspaces. Stay connected and productive in your home away from home.