Santa Barbara, CA

Travel Guide
Santa Barbara showing theater scenes, night scenes and signage
The American Riviera offers historic adobe architecture, plenty of art galleries, wineries and beautiful beaches.

Santa Barbara is famous for its expensive hotels, large mansions and trendy boutiques, but it also has beautiful beaches and many museums and festivals dedicated to celebrating the city’s past.

Be sure to visit Santa Barbara’s picture-perfect beaches. Lie on the soft sand and read a book, or grab a board and hit the surf. Conditions are great for beginners, but on the right day there are some good breaks for those of all skill levels.

Marvel at the Franciscan–Spanish architecture of the old Santa Barbara Mission. You’ll find artifacts and documents from old missionaries, a still-operating chapel, and the mission’s impressive and well-kept grounds. For more old architecture, visit the adobe Rafael Gonzalez house or the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Head up the bell tower for great views of the surrounding area. History buffs will also want to check out the Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish fortress from the 1780s.

Learn how modern-day Santa Barbara came about as you wander through the exhibits at the city’s Historical Museum. For a look at the evolution of plant and wildlife in the area and beyond, spend some time at the Museum of Natural History.

Art lovers will enjoy the city’s excellent institutions. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art has an extensive collection of European, American and Asian art, and plays host to some world-class exhibitions. For a look at more recent works, wander over to the Contemporary Arts Forum. This gallery is artist-run and funded, and is dedicated to exhibiting the highest-quality work in the region.

To enjoy other local products, organize a tour of the region’s wineries.

Santa Barbara enjoys the sophisticated charm of a much larger city but maintains a quaint, friendly atmosphere. Throw in a fascinating history, loads of cultural activities and excellent beaches, and it’s not hard to see why it attracts visitors from around the world.

Where to stay in Santa Barbara

Inn By The Harbor
Inn By The Harbor
3.5 out of 5
433 W Montecito St, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101
The price is $140 per night from Feb 8 to Feb 9
$140
per night
Feb 8 - Feb 9
Stay at this 3.5-star business-friendly hotel in Santa Barbara. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (1,206 reviews)
"Easy check in. Nice staff. Lovely accommodations affordable price. What else could you ask for?"

Reviewed on Feb 4, 2023

Inn By The Harbor
Hyatt Place Santa Barbara
Hyatt Place Santa Barbara
3.5 out of 5
4111 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA, 93110
The price is $221 per night from Mar 5 to Mar 6
$221
per night
Mar 5 - Mar 6
Stay at this 3.5-star business-friendly hotel in Santa Barbara. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and a fitness center. Our guests praise the helpful staff and ...
4/5 Very Good! (793 reviews)
"Good"

Reviewed on Jan 29, 2023

Hyatt Place Santa Barbara
Hotel Milo Santa Barbara
Hotel Milo Santa Barbara
3.5 out of 5
202 W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101
The price is $190 per night from Feb 13 to Feb 14
$190
per night
Feb 13 - Feb 14
Stay at this 3.5-star beach hotel in Santa Barbara. Enjoy free WiFi, 2 outdoor pools, and a fitness center. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the clean ...
3.9/5 Very Good! (1,039 reviews)
"Beautiful views of the ocean!"

Reviewed on Jan 31, 2023

Hotel Milo Santa Barbara
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Tide Pool Villas
Tide Pool Villas
4.5 out of 5
26 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101
Stay at this 4.5-star luxury aparthotel in Santa Barbara. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Popular attractions MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration ...
2.6/5 (10 reviews)
Nice Stay
"Actually were giving a room at Villa Rosa across the street and under same management. It is an older facility with dated furniture but clean and comfortable; lots of nice tile work."

Reviewed on Jan 29, 2023

Tide Pool Villas
Mariposa- One Bedroom Flat; sweet getaway by the Beach!  newly renovated beauty
Mariposa- One Bedroom Flat; sweet getaway by the Beach! newly renovated beauty
Santa Barbara, CA
Stay at this apartment in Santa Barbara. Enjoy free WiFi, a beach locale, and onsite parking. Our guests praise the comfy beds in our reviews. Popular attractions ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (112 reviews)
Great location!
"Great location - @2 blocks to beach and the Hilton. Easy street parking. Beds were comfy and plenty of towels and extra linens. Thank you!"

Reviewed on Jan 2, 2023

Mariposa- One Bedroom Flat; sweet getaway by the Beach! newly renovated beauty
Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort
Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort
2 out of 5
3750 Paradise Road, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105
Stay at this family-friendly cabin in Santa Barbara. Enjoy free parking, 2 outdoor pools, and a business center. Our guests praise the pool and the comfy beds ...
4.4/5 Wonderful! (68 reviews)
wonderful and terrible
"The cabin we had was wonderful. Kitchen was stocked so well. It was clean and pleasant. However, if you advertise a restaurant and you are 17 MILES away from everything, that advertised restaurant better be open. We were panicked when the restaurant had not been open for over 1.5 years!!! The thought ..."

Reviewed on Oct 16, 2022

Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Getting around Santa Barbara

The only public transit option in Santa Barbara is its bus network, the SBMTD, which spans the entire city and into Santa Barbara County, as far out as Carpinteria. Taxis are very expensive in the city center, making car rental a more appealing option. If you’re staying close to the center, consider walking or cycling around Santa Barbara. It’s easy to rent a bike in the city. Visit the California Department of Transportation website.Browse Santa Barbara rental cars.

Best time to visit

Like much of California, Santa Barbara has mild weather year round, with highs of around 75 F (24 C) in July and August, and around 65 F (18 C) in December and January. This temperate climate means it’s pleasant to visit throughout the year. Summer is the busiest and most expensive time, so you may prefer to visit in May or September; most of the rain in Santa Barbara falls between December and February.

Popular places to visit

Things to do

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