Touring Santa Barbara
The self-guided Red Tile Walking Tour touches many of the city’s landmarks. Of special interest is theCounty Courthouse (1100 Anacapa Street), an architectural masterpiece completed in 1929. The Spanish-Moorish structure features tropical gardens and lush lawns. In addition, historic adobes and El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park (123 E. Canon Perdido Street; 805-966-9719) are snapshot-worthy. Hop aboard the Downtown Waterfront Trolley, which cruises the length of the Red Tile district for just 25 cents, or rent a whimsical quadricycle on State Street or Cabrillo Blvd. Santa Barbara’s historic Stearns Wharf features the Sea Center (Stearns Wharf; 805-962-0885), with live displays and touch tanks, From Stearns Wharf you will see a multitude of sailboats and fishing boats in and about the nearby Santa Barbara Harbor. A centerpiece at the Harbor is the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (805-962-8404). The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (1212 Mission Canyon Rd; 805-682-4726) offers trails that wind through canyon, desert and other settings. The Old Mission Santa Barbara(2201 Laguna St.; 805-682-4713) was founded in 1786. Its unique stone facade, which was copied from an ancient Roman book on architecture, has made the mission a popular subject for photographers. Rooms filled with artifacts and an old cemetery are open for exploration. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1130 State St.; 805-963-4364) is known for innovative exhibitions and an unforgettable permanent collections. Marvel at Greek and Roman antiquities, as well and works from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American, French and English artists.
Santa Barbara just wouldn’t be Santa Barbara without the beach and the ocean. Thanks to the temperate climate, you can enjoy the outdoors most of the year. East Beach (E. Cabrillo Blvd) is the large stretch of sand along Chase Palm Park to the east of Stearns Wharf. It’s often acclaimed in various magazines as one of the best beaches in the nation. There are places for picnics, volleyball, showers, a playground and a beach side grill. West Beach (W. Cabrillo Blvd) is directly west of Stearns Wharf and also next to the Santa Barbara Harbor. You can rent a kayak just a block from here on State Street and spend the day paddling the coast. Leadbetter Beach (Shoreline Dr at Loma Alta Dr) is a fantastic family beach just west of the Santa Barbara Harbor. The waves are usually calm, there are great picnic facilities with barbeques in addition to restrooms and showers. The center piece of this beach is the Shoreline Beach Cafe where you can sit at tables with your toes in the sand. Butterfly Beach (in nearby Montecito at Olive Mill Rd) lies across the street from the posh Biltmore Hotel. If you’re hoping to run into celebrities, you have a fairly good chance here! You can take a great walk to East Beach from here.
Santa Barbara’s Wine Country
Less than an hour from Santa Barbara, in the Santa Ynez Valley, lies Santa Barbara’s wine country. For a great introduction to wine tasting in this area, view the Santa Barbara Winery Guide (Santa Ynez Valley), Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail (Santa Barbara) and Santa Barbara Wine Tours
Bike trail maps are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (1 Garden Street; 805-965-3021). Bikes and in-line skates are available for rent at Beach Rentals (22 State Street; 805-966-6733). If you enjoy horseback riding, call the people at Circle Bar B Riding Stables who arrange all kinds of rides, including sunset and sunrise, English- or Western-style excursions. You can hit the seas with Sunset Kidd Sailing Charters (at the breakwater; 805-962-8222), which offers day tours, seasonal whale watches, and Sunset Cruiseson a 41-foot Morgan. For the more adventurous, Truth Aquatics (Sea Landing at the harbor; 805-962-1127) offers Channel Island tripsincluding kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking. The easiest way to Kayak in Santa Barbara is to go to Santa Barbara Adventure Company or, Captain Jacks Santa Barbara Tours or Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara.
Most of the nightlife scene is centered in Old Town Santa Barbara, particularly on State Street. Q’s (409 State Street) and Velvet Jones (423 State St) are known for dancing. Enjoy live music at SoHo (1221 State St) which changes nightly from jazz, blues, dance, funk, and reggae to Eastern European traditional folk. Many people would say that the State Street nightlife begins at Joe’s Cafe (536 State St), with their generously strong drinks. Also on State Street is the sports bar O’Malleys (523 State St). A more sophisticated atmosphere can be found via the bar scene and upstairs lounge at Blue Agave (20 E. Cota St) and The James Joyce (513 State St).
Santa Barbara Links
Santa Barbara offers many year-round activities and attractions that enrich our community. Locals know well that it is nearly impossible to be bored in this bustling community of arts, entertainment, great food and celebration. This page offers some helpful links and resources that will surely enhance anyone’s Santa Barbara experience!
Santa Barbara Conference and Visitor’s Bureau
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens
Santa Barbara Airport
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Barbara News Press
Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association
Santa Barbara Restaurant and Wine Review