Santa Barbara Travel Guide

  • A ride in a Surrey with a fringe on top.
    A ride in a Surrey with a fringe on top.
    by ranger49
  • Santa Barbara from Cathedral Peak
    Santa Barbara from Cathedral Peak
    by Cammel11
  • Rain clouds gather over east beach
    Rain clouds gather over east beach
    by ranger49

Santa Barbara Highlights

  • Pro
    trvlnurse profile photo

    trvlnurse says…

     Picturesque, great weather, mountains and the sea- Plenty to do for such a small community 

  • Con
    GracesTrips profile photo

    GracesTrips says…

     Expensive place to live or vacation. 

  • In a nutshell
    Hanau93 profile photo

    Hanau93 says…

     a little jewel away from the noise of the big cities. 

Santa Barbara Things to Do

  • State Street

    State Street has an eclectic mix of bars, clubs, restaurants and shops. I noticed it getting a bit noisy and rowdy around 9pm which, depending on your mood, could enhance or debase your holiday experience.

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  • Santa Barbara Mission

    The Mission is an absolute treat to see. The signature mark of Santa Barbara, it's the staple in every tourists plans. The rose garden across the street is a great place to picnic, play games or just read a book on a nice day. A great place to stay in Santa Barbara would be The Sandman Inn (www.thesandmaninn.com). Located on State Street, the...

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  • Stearns Wharf

    A must for the visit to check out the beach area is a promenade along Stearn's Wharf. There are a few restaurants on here and a few shops to boot including a confectioners where I purchased some incredibly expensive delights of the chocolate variety.

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Santa Barbara Hotels

Santa Barbara Restaurants

  • Cafe Buenos Aires

    Like all good things that come to an end, the Cafe Buenos Aires is CLOSED. I leave the review for my memory of a excellent restaurant of 19 years. It follows: "Driving on State Street is visiting the action of Santa Barbara with the eclectic shopping venues, the many night life style bars, and the wonderful restaurants that line the street and...

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  • La Super Rica Taqueria

    The story I was told is that La Super-Rica was one of Julia Childs' favorite places to eat in Santa Barbara. I don't know if that's true, but it is one of our favorites. Everything on the menu is so good that I have trouble deciding what to get, and so usually order too much, but eat it all anyway. Realistically, you could get two or three small...

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  • The Brown Pelican

    I noticed there already are a couple of reviews for this restaurant, but I thought I should add mine as well as it reflects a dinner experience and my opininon is slightly different from the others I have read. The restaurant is located right on the beach and the view is very nice. We were lucky to be there on a full moon night. The moon was...

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Santa Barbara Nightlife

  • Stiffest Drinks in Town

    Joe's is actually a restaurant, but I've never eaten here. It's a great place to start your night when going Downtown. They have the stiffest drinks in town and are very inexpensive. Frankie, the legendary bartender who's been there forever, has been voted the best in Santa Barbara Dress code? What's that?

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  • Roy for late night

    Roy is a great hang that was only a 1/2 block from our hotel. We walked by this place many times, and finally went in after a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. We were hungry and our options at 11:00pm were limited. Resigning to just head back to our hotel, we passed Roy once more and it was hopping - they serve dinner from 6-midnight. We went in,...

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  • MUSIC ONCE FILLED THE NIGHT

    Like most good things the Cafe Buenos Aires is no more. CLOSED. I leave the review up for my memory of a wonderful and vibriant restaurant that graced the main street of Santa Barbara for 19 years. The location will become a Greek Restaurant, opening sometime in late 2011.My review of the Cafe is as follows: "The weekends come alive with the sound...

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Santa Barbara Transportation

  • Highway 1 (and 101)

    The best parts of driving highway 1 (and 101) close to Santa Barbara was the route west of the town, teh worst bits south and east, the traffic in and out of this area was terrible. Stuck in it for ages on our way to our next destination, leaving 10am in the morning, hoped we had missed teh rush hour and maybe we had but it was still hard work.

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  • Car park for the beach

    Car parks are close to Garden Street, one either side of the main road, East Cabrillo Boelevard. The one on the beach side was a little more expensive but for us the convenience was worth it. I also met this gentlemen showing off his motor home and its decorations, told me that he stayed in Urmston with a friend, which is the part of Manchester...

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  • Walking

    It's very easy to get around in Santa Barbara. If you stay downtown, get around by just about anywhere. We stayed at the Canary Hotel, which is right in the heart of downtown, and close to tons of restaurants, bars and shops. Even the Santa Barbara Bowl is an easy walk, just over a mile. There are bicycle rickshaws all over town, and a small...

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Santa Barbara Shopping

  • Good Shopping

    There's a lot of shopping to do on State Street. From small, local boutique shops to large department stores like Nordstom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy's. The best part about it, is that everyhing is outdoors and walkable. There are plenty of restaurants, coffe shops and snack bars to stop at and take a break while shopping.

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  • Sourvenirs & Food~

    There so many wonderful little shops and restaurants to list here. You just have to come and explore.Coastal Tresures217 Stearns Wharf, Suite ESanta Barbara, CA 93101805.966.7643Char WestFish & ChipsCharburgers, cheeseburgersand the yummiest fishand chips this side of theEnglish Channel.Open 7 days a week.The Great Pacific Ice Cream Company32...

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  • REI, Sports Chalet, Chick's can't...

    This store was pretty amazing! When it comes to camping gear, I don't think you can find everything you can imagine that you would need in one place. This store had everything from clothing, to compasses, head lamps, dehydrated food, hats, backpacks, shoes, wow! Fun store to look through!

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Santa Barbara Local Customs

  • Arts and Crafts show

    Santa Barbara's Arts and Crafts show is every Sunday. Vendors set up their tables and booths starting at Stearns Warf going a few blocks east along Cabrillo Boulevard. Even if you are not into arts and crafts, it's a great excuse to take a walk along the ocean andtake in the beautiful views of Santa Barbara.

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  • Santa Barbara's own version of Marti...

    Fiesta is Santa Barbara's own version of Marti Gras. It's a great time for all ages. For a few days in August, Santa Barbara shows off it's Spanish culture. State Street is alive and happening with many happy revelers. It's a really great family get together during the day - but also an awesome place for adults to act like kids with throwing...

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  • SUNDAY MORNING ART & CRAFTS

    Every Sunday along Cabrillo Blvd. starting at Stearns Wharf and running East for a couple of blocks is the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show with original handmade artwork by local artisans. You can view items from Animal toys to Zebra paintings. The prices are all up to the artist on location. They display their wares on easels to tables from 10am...

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Santa Barbara Warnings and Dangers

  • Don't panic, just be aware

    Like nearly every other beach city in Southern California, Santa Barbara has a disproportionately large homeless population. So don't be surprised if you happen across someone sleeping on the grass near the beaches, or on the sidewalk along the main drag.

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  • Don't panic, just be aware

    Like nearly every other beach city in Southern California, Santa Barbara has a disproportionately large homeless population. So don't be surprised if you happen across someone sleeping on the grass near the beaches, or on the sidewalk along the main drag.

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  • Painted Cave Road~Narrow, Steep,...

    There is No guard rail on this road, and its steep, narrow and lots of boulder overhangs. When they say RV & Trailers NOT recommened, they mean it! The road is very curvey and the turns are hairpin turn, so a trailer or RV is not going to make it. Plus, SUV's are not ideal due to the fact there is no parking other than a couple of standard size...

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Santa Barbara Tourist Traps

  • Solvang is cutesy-touristy

    I think of a tourist trap as a place that's a rip-off and not worth visiting. Solvang does not fit that definition. If your definition of tourist trap is looser, you may consider Solvang to be one. Solvang is a great day trip if you're visiting Santa Barbara, and want to grab lunch and walk around. Most of the shops seem to be of the souvenir type,...

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  • Santa Barbara hotels - not worth the...

    Santa Barbara is not known as a destination for the rich and famous for nothing, with locals like Oprah and the late Michael Jackson, it's no wonder this beachside town is PRICEY! My suggestion is to save on your hotel and not fall for the super expensive, overrated hotels like The Canary Hotel. Try some cheaper options, like the hostel, the Ala...

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  • Stearns Warf Ice Cream Shop: Not so...

    On a hot summery day, walking along the warf, many would want to have a cool drink or nice ice cream. The Stearns Warf Ice Cream shop has coffee, cold drinks and ice cream, but please be warned, the ice cream is not only expensive, it is not good at all. The ice creams look like they have been ladened with loads of food coloring and taste very...

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Santa Barbara What to Pack

  • Dress for the Weather

    Santa Barbara, like the rest of Southern California is cool during the winter months and sunny and warm during the summer. Santa Barbara is a fairly laid back small city. If you are planning to do site seeing, pack casual clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Bring a light jacket or sweater for cool summer evenings. For winter, best to layer as...

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  • Some Things You Should Bring

    If you're visiting in late spring, summer, or early fall be sure to bring light, cool clothing. It very rarely get unbearably hot, but you'll be much more comfortable if you don't wear heavy clothing. Sandals and/or open-toed shoes are a very common and comfortable footwear during the warmer months, so I suggest you bring some. Also, you may want...

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  • getting out of uniform

    Nice to not carry anything but a camera for three whole days! Nice to wear some civilian clothes rather than the desert whites we'd been wearing for months. A wide angle is essential for getting good shots of buildings in towns and a good zoom really helps with shots of humming birds. Nice to not have to set up the tent for three whole...

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Santa Barbara Off The Beaten Path

  • Morton Bay Fig Tree

    The Morton Bay Fig Tree is 70 ft tall and the trunk is 30 ft around or more and spans 160 feet wide. It was planted in 1874 from a little seed brought from all the way from Australia. Its one of the main attraction along the SB Trolley Tours.

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  • TAKE HWY 154 FOR THE LAKE

    Cachuma Lake sits over the Santa Ynez Mountains reached by Hwy 154, not Hwy 101, the main road north. The road, believe it or not, is a shortcut from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos. The lake itself is lower than normal and everyone is seeking the rain to help bring the lake back to normal. The camping area and fishing ramp are open year round, but no...

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  • Wines in Santa Barbara

    For some local wine tasting that you don’t have to drive out of Santa Barbara for, go a check out Santa Barbara Winery (202 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara) and Oreana Winery (205 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara), which are located a few blocks from Stearns Warf. Santa Barbara Winery carries a large range of wines and offers wine tasting for $5 for...

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Santa Barbara Sports & Outdoors

  • Cuchama Lake Recreation Area

    When you get tired of the beach and want a little flat water to Kayak or boat on, Lake Cachuma is about 15 miles north of Santa Barbara .

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  • Red Tile Walking Tour

    Enjoy scenic Santa Barbara on foot from State Street and beyond. See beautiful parks, plazas, museums, historical landmarks on twelve city blocks. Free printable self guided Red Tile Walking Tour maps click are available on line..

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  • sailing & Kayaking

    The Santa Barbara Sailing Center has a large selection of boats you can rent, charter or learn on. They range from 16.5'- 50' (J boats and Catalina). The staff is extremely nice and helpful. The sailing center also has great kayak tours in the mornings and afternoons. Here are some sample Prices:3 Hour Kayak Tour: $60 per person 28' Catalina: $295...

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Santa Barbara Favorites

  • SPANISH-MEDITERRANEAN STYLE TRAIN...

    Arriving by train to Santa Barbara starts out by seeing the simplistic beauty in the Spanish-Mediterranean style of architecture in the train station that so typifies the Santa Barbara region. Located at 209 State Street with a parking lot.

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  • a nice slice of life

    Though there were countless restaurants and even a brewpub, we bought food at the grocery store and cooked at home. There was just one problem. There really wasn't anywhere to eat it. Ernst shared the apartment with another bachelor and we surmised they ate their meals in the living room, most likely watching TV. We normally just go with the flow...

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  • great chunks of coastal scenery

    Having Ernst show us around was the best part of town. Not only did he show us things we would not have seen otherwise, it was more fun doing it with him. Thanks, Ernst. Walking around Santa Barbara with Ernst, it was easy for us to see why he would want to live there. Southern California may take its share of flak for being home to a lot of...

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Explore Deeper into Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Courthouse
Things to Do
Santa Barbara Zoo
Things to Do
Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch
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Santa Barbara State Historic Park
Things to Do
Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
Things to Do
Flora & Fauna
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Jeanniee’s Café
Restaurants
THE PALACE GRILL
Restaurants
Chicago Ribs and More @ Ventura
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State Street
Things to Do
Head inland
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Gaviota State Park
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It's a must
Things to Do
On the sea front
Restaurants
Spanish or moor?
Things to Do
El Presidio of Santa Barbara
Things to Do
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Things to Do
Always Satisfying
Restaurants
The SandBar
Restaurants
The Brown Pelican
Restaurants
Restaurant with a View
Restaurants
RIP crooked neck giraffe
Things to Do
Wine Tasting
Things to Do
Sailing
Things to Do
Tropical Look
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RockStar Transportation Cars, Limos, Wine Tours
Transportation
State St and Downtown
Things to Do
Good Brewpub
Restaurants
Mac's: didn't live up to expectations
Restaurants
We drive from LA just to eat lunch here
Restaurants
Santa Barbara Bowl
Things to Do
Getting around in town - very walkable
Transportation
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Things to Do
WHO GOES TO THE ZOO, I DO.
Things to Do
Beach at my scale
Things to Do
Mediocre, flashy brewpub
Restaurants
Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
Things to Do
Very good simple Mexican food
Restaurants
Great Danish-based restaurant & bakery
Restaurants
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Things to Do
Map of Santa Barbara

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