Just 100 miles north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is the ultimate beach town. From lazy days at sun-soaked beaches to crazy nights at the club, this town has something for everyone. With UCSB in town, there is a big college scene here year-round. You can also find some of California's best (and most beautiful) wine tasting in this region. Ready to experience the best of California? Here’s my ultimate guide to Santa Barbara.
What to Expect in Santa Barbara
Beach Vibe: Santa Barbara is a chic upscale beach town with world class vineyards at its doorstep. The style is laid-back with a little bit of luxury!
Currency: It’s US dollars here.
Weather: Flawless! It’s usually sunny and around 70-75 degrees F. The temperatures are fairly consistent all year, although you will find more rainy days and temps as low as 50 degrees F during the winter.
In summer, it’s all warm (but not too hot) sunshine. Don’t forget sunscreen! Santa Barbara sees over 300 days of sunshine each year.
Food: Santa Barbara boasts lots of farm-to-table, fresh fare. There are some great Mexican restaurants as well as outstanding seafood. With many neighboring vineyards, you will get some of the best local wines. Be sure to check out the farmers market for all the local goodies!
Helpful Tip: A lot of restaurants, shops and hotels in SB tend to be on the more expensive side, but you can find more budget options in Isla Vista (where UCSB students reside)!
Getting Around in Santa Barbara
Bikes: You can rent a bike on the boardwalk. Since it’s a relatively small city with great weather, this is a good option for seeing the main attractions.
Drive: Renting a car is a good idea if you’re planning to explore a wider area or get out to some of the vineyards.
Uber or Lyft: These apps are popular options in California and will get you wherever you need to go hassle-free. You are much more likely to snag a ride-share than a taxi in SB.
Walk: Take walks along the beach boardwalk or head to downtown where you can walk up and down State Street for some shopping!
In the heart of Santa Barbara, this luxury hotel stole my heart on my last trip stateside. The hotel truly feels like you’ve stepped back into history—they’ve even incorporated the façade of the original 1925 Hotel Californian—and the architectural details are so impressive.
Location: Santa Barbara
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
This five-star Spanish style resort offers the best of luxury So Cal indulge. A Ritz-Carlton property, you’ll be impressed at every turn.
Location: Santa Barbara
From cheap couches to luxury lofts, VRBO is a great option in Santa Barbara for every taste and price range.
Check out The Coolest Vacation Rentals in California!
Palihouse Santa Barbara
With a dream location just off of the famous State Street, this European-influenced property offers a lush courtyard, a delicious complimentary breakfast, and exceptional services.
Location: Downtown Santa Barbara
For modern American fare in an upscale spot, you can’t beat The Lark.
Figueroa Mountain Brewery
For award-winning local beers and sweeping mountain vistas, come here for drinks and pub grub.
This is the perfect place to sit out, enjoy the sun, and chow down on some wood oven pizza.
For ultra fresh seafood and amazing Bloody Marys, look no further.
Want to see where the locals go for breakfast? Come here.
Santa Barbara Shellfish Co
Santa Barbara has some of the best seafood in the world, and this place has the freshest of fresh seasonal seafood.
La Super-Rica on Milpas
The lines here get crazy during lunch time but their first rate Mexican dishes make it worth the wait.
This traveler-friendly spot is perfect for grabbing something quick and healthy on the go.
The Shop Kitchen
Walk up to the service window (be prepared for a line at peak hours) and order from a selection of the best breakfasts, baked goods and coffee.
You can rent bikes all over town and they’re the perfect way to get around. As soon as you hop on, head down to the pier.
Get over to the trendy The Funk Zone to experience the Urban Wine Trail. Be sure to try the local Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
See a Movie
Normally I don’t think it’s worth it to spend travel time in a dark movie theatre, but Arlington is just such a cool spot. They’ve also got standup comedy shows and concerts.
State Street has it all. You could easily spend a full day just exploring the shops, restaurants, and cafés.
The MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is such an impressive place. It’s also a perfect rainy day activity.
Ty Warner Sea Center
Also known as Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, get down here to pet an octopus!
You can’t go to Santa Barbara without spending at least one full day at the beach! My top picks are Butterfly Beach and Santa Clause Lane.
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