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Things to do in Santa Barbara, CA
Activities, attractions and tours

Santa Barbara showing theater scenes, night scenes and signage

Santa Barbara Attractions

Perched along the California coast between the Pacific Ocean and Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara enjoys an ideal location. Whether you are on the hunt for new outdoor activities or a palate-pleasing meal, there are things to do in Santa Barbara that will fit nicely on your travel itinerary. The region is also renowned for its wine, beach activities, and quaint neighborhoods. With a relatively small population and a boatload of charm, this Southern California destination is a perfect fit for nearly any type of traveler.

Top things to do in Santa Barbara

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What to do in Santa Barbara

Free Things to Do in Santa Barbara

Traveling to Santa Barbara on a budget? The following can be experienced for nix.

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

- Crammed with intriguing objects and exhibits, this place is heaven for inquiring minds.

Elings Park

- Loads of fun and action is what you'll find at this fantastic attraction.

Antioch University

- Take in the creativity and design of this fantastic example of modern architecture.

Casa de la Guerra

- Get to know some of the intriguing history of the region through this attraction.

Santa Barbara Harbor

- Amble along the sidewalks and get lost in the vibe of this vibrant area.

El Capitan Lake

- Spend some time near the water to relax and replenish your energy.

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

- Pull out your guidebook and find out why this place is worth adding to your itinerary.

Mission Santa Barbara

- Whatever your religious leanings, this site will inspire a sense of reverence in you.

Leadbetter Beach

- Breathe in the fresh, salty air and watch the waves lapping against the shore at this popular coastal spot.

Rattlesnake Canyon Trail

- Take a break from the urban jungle and get back to nature at this inspiring spot.

De la Guerra Plaza

- Recharge your mind, body and soul by spending a little time in nature.

Areas & Neighborhoods in Santa Barbara

Despite its size of only 20 square miles, Santa Barbara still packs quite a few neighborhoods within its boundaries. From bustling, party-filled streets to quiet beachfront walkways, the roadways and atmosphere offered by the regions here are as diverse as they are appealing.


— Downtown Santa Barbara serves as the lifeblood of the city. Centered on State Street, the district starts at Stearns Wharf and heads out into the suburbs. Fun things to do in Santa Barbara’s downtown region include sipping coffee at independent cafes and grabbing a glass of local vino at a small wine bar.

Upper East Side

— The Upper East Side of Santa Barbara is replete with architecturally interesting homes, lovely views, and several landmarks. The most notable attraction in this neighborhood is the Santa Barbara Mission, which has a rose garden and a history dating back to the 1700s.

The Mesa

— This area near the ocean is flat and sits above the rest of the city. Views of the region are spectacular from the neighborhood, and it’s a good spot for biking.

Things to See in Santa Barbara

While plenty of things to do in Santa Barbara, CA will keep you moving, there are also lots of things to see and ways to be entertained. Bring your camera to the Santa Barbara Mission to grab some frame-worthy shots, and dedicate some time to walking through the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Anyone with a green thumb can appreciate the flowers often in bloom in this temperate climate, including the displays at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Santa Barbara Zoo. If you’re looking for a great way to cap off your day, consider visiting a local stage, such as the Granada Theater or Santa Barbara Bowl.

Sightseeing in Santa Barbara

Anyone with a taste for fermented grapes will enjoy Santa Barbara wine tours, where local tasting rooms put their best in show out for a try. Outdoor enthusiasts can feel right at home as well. Thanks to its awesome location along the coast, Santa Barbara’s activities include surfing, kayaking, boat tours, and hiking to local hot springs. You can also enjoy a horseback riding excursion in the hills or try your hand at 18 holes at a world-class golf club. Each spring, visitors and residents alike are invited to the Santa Barbara Fair and Expo, where activities include carnival rides and tons of fair food.

Things to Do in Santa Barbara with Kids

Santa Barbara is a great destination for a family vacation. Bring the youngsters along and enjoy these family friendly experiences together:


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