Things to Do in
No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without a visit to the beach. Luckily, the Ritz-Carlton Bacara is just steps away from Haskell’s Beach. In downtown Santa Barbara, check out the locals’-favorite Butterfly Beach located in front of the Four Seasons Biltmore, dog-friendly Hendry’s Beach, and volleyball haven East Beach.
Explore the beauty of California’s native landscapes at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens has long been celebrated for the distinctive combination of its landscape design and natural setting.
Monarch butterflies migrate to Goleta each November through February. Visit the Goleta Butterfly Grove for a chance to see thousands of monarchs travelling to Santa Barbara’s warmer climes.
The Santa Barbara Harbor has many activities to please a variety of people: boat rentals, kayaks, stand up paddleboards (SUPs), jet skis, a Maritime Museum, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, a water taxi and whale watching.
There are dozens of very well-maintained trails in and around the city. Try Rattlesnake Canyon Trail on Las Canoas Road, a 3.5-mile round-trip hike with a 900-foot gain in elevation. After crossing shallow streams and passing by waterfalls, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the Channel Islands in the distance.
Well-known opera singer and socialite Madame Ganna Walska purchased a Montecito, Calif., estate in 1941 and spent the next four decades creating Lotusland, which is frequently acknowledged as one of the 10 best gardens in the world. Lotusland features many amazing plant collections and is a destination not to be missed.
Founded in 1941, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art includes modern as well as antique collections. The Santa Barbara Natural History Museum includes exhibitions on Chumash Indians and marine life. There’s also a space lab/planetarium!
This landmark 1786 Spanish mission has period art and artifacts, gardens with ocean views and a gift shop. The Mission is perhaps best known for its beautiful twin bell towers and is considered the “Queen of the Missions.” Bring a picnic and enjoy the view at the adjacent Rose Gardens and ocean.
Designed in Spanish Colonial style and completed in 1929, the Courthouse is an iconic landmark. You haven’t truly seen Santa Barbara until you’ve enjoyed the view from the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse’s clock tower. The interior architecture of the building is memorable, with historical displays, beautiful hallways and painted murals. Over the years, a number of notable court cases have been tried here.
Promenade along State Street, where you’ll find shops, theaters, cafes, nightclubs and historic buildings along the seven-mile stretch of the City of Santa Barbara's main street. Be sure to check out the historic La Arcada Courtyard right off Figueroa and State.
Spend the afternoon at Stearns Wharf pier. Built in 1872, the wharf is now home to the Ty Warner Aquarium, restaurants, and shops. You can also enjoy some wine tasting or pick up some fresh seafood at the fish market on the wharf.