The 10 Best Things to Do in Santa Barbara, United States

September 10, 2017 Tambra Mccollister

Nestled between the shrub-covered slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the clear blue shores of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is California at its best. Mission Santa Barbara is an example of 18th-century religious architecture, boasting beautiful grounds and a wonderfully detailed interior. Work up an appetite with a walk through Shoreline Park, then dine above the water on Stearns Wharf. Fig trees, parks, waterfalls, and botanical gardens round out Santa Barbara’s natural beauty.
Restaurants in Santa Barbara

1. Santa Barbara County Courthouse

1100 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2099 +1 805-568-2220
Excellent
72%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Designed by William Mooser III in the Spanish-Moorish architectural style, this working courthouse is surrounded by landscaped gardens and lawns.

Reviewed By Annick831 - Ventura, California

This is a free tour to do in Santa Barbara! It's a beautiful building, during opening hours you can pop your head in some of the surrounding attached buildings and offices, it's well worth exploring. Don't be surprise to see a wedding ceremony happening on the grounds or an engagement picture shoot (especially during the weekend) it's such a beautiful place... Climb to the top to see a wonderful view of the city, the ocean (on a clear day), the mission, etc. If you climb by stairs you will see the clock room with the bells that rings every hour.

2. Casa del Herrero

Santa Barbara, CA +1 805-565-5653
Excellent
77%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 153 reviews

Casa del Herrero

Tours are by reservation only on Wednesdays and Saturdays for those 10 years & older. Admission for the 90-minute, Docent-led tours is $20 per person. Designated in 2009 as Santa Barbara's 4th National Historic Landmark, the Casa del Herrero, built in 1925, stands today as one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. The creative manifestation of St. Louis industrialist George Fox Steedman, Casa del Herrero (House of the Blacksmith) reflects the visionary passions of its 'dream team' of designers: reknowned architect, George Washington Smith, landscape architects Lockwood de Forest and Francis T. Underhill, and antiquarians Arthur Byne and Mildred Stapley, who also helped outfit the well-known Hearst Castle.

Reviewed By LadyDi_and_Cowman - Southern California

We discovered this tour on TripAdvisor looking for things to do in Santa Barbara. We were so lucky the tours had just begun after a two month closure. The historical home is amazing built in the Andalusian/Spanish style with furniture, tiles, artwork and more acquired from Spain in the 1920’s. Gardens are gorgeous with Moorish influences many reminiscent of the Alhambra. Our guide was fun and sweet and gave a lovely tour. Highly recommend if you love visiting historical houses and gardens.

3. Reagan Ranch Center

217 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-3833 +1 805-957-1980
Excellent
76%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 231 reviews

Reagan Ranch Center

The Reagan Ranch Center in downtown Santa Barbara, California is open to the general public for tours and visitation Monday through Thursday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. These galleries feature original Reagan Ranch artifacts matched with state-of-the-art, interactive, multimedia exhibits that highlight the history of Ronald Reagan’s quarter-century at Rancho del Cielo and the accomplishments of his presidency.Over six hours of dynamic multimedia exhibits provide access to exclusive speeches, interviews, radio addresses, and original video presentations. The centerpiece of the gallery is a 28-foot-long interactive “timeline” that gives users the ability to explore the “Western White House” during the 1980s.

Reviewed By RGTravelIng - Rochester, Minnesota

Worth a quick stop to learn more about the Ranch of Regan. This is not an equivalent to the Reagan Library in Simi Vally. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. It’s free easy to navigate. Couple of videos worth watching. Overall if you want more info on the Regan years do stop. Only takes an our or so.

4. Cabrillo Bike Path

Santa Barbara, CA
Excellent
64%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 214 reviews

Cabrillo Bike Path

Reviewed By seetheworld2014 - Calgary, Canada

This is one of the easier bike paths in Santa Barbara because it's nice and flat and has a dedicated bike lane along the waterfront. The scenery can't be beat and it's clean. Traffic was mindful of cyclists and the ride was very pleasant.

5. Cold Spring Tavern

5995 Stagecoach Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105-9776 +1 805-967-0066
Excellent
64%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 460 reviews

Cold Spring Tavern

A popular mountain for hiking outside of Santa Barbara.

Reviewed By Gerry H

This is a lace worth visiting, especially on the weekend when they BBQ tri-tip outside on the grill. Then there is the local bands that play, and a tone of bikers in a serene setting

6. Shoreline Park

Shoreline Drive and La Marina Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 805-64-5418
Excellent
60%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 498 reviews

Shoreline Park

Reviewed By Joe G - Boise, Idaho

For a great sunny stroll along the beach this flat, long, palm tree lined beach is really beautiful. Lots of vendor displays on the weekend, and many other activities are available as well. A wharf, lots of restaurants and beautiful parks are along the way. Definitely worth taking a stroll!

7. Santa Barbara Zoo

500 Ninos Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93103-3798 +1 805-962-5339
Excellent
57%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Santa Barbara Zoo

This zoo with a view was once a posh estate owned by a coffee and tea merchant; now it's the lush domain of more than 500 animals representing 160 species. The pink stucco mansion that once presided over manicured lawns and gardens is gone—replaced by open-air habitats built for the less refined but still exacting tastes of giraffes, elephants, gibbons, snow leopards and gorillas. What hasn't changed is the surrounding scenery; the Pacific and Santa Ynez Mountains are just as spectacular as they were back when this was the setting for civilized galas instead of the wild antics of monkeys and meerkats.

Reviewed By Rob R

20 min's to see it all, but really fun for kids. There's even a little train ride. And where else do the giraffes and lions have an ocean view.Thanks, Rob!

8. Santa Barbara Scenic Drive

92260, Santa Barbara, CA
Excellent
67%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 301 reviews

Santa Barbara Scenic Drive

Reviewed By Travellover6128 - San Francisco, California

We rode the scenic 17 mile drive on the motorbike and had a great time. Something for everyone, beach, large houses, hills, golf course, views etc. Good fun for an hour or two and much more fun doing it by yourself, so you stop where you want to!

9. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

113 Harbor Way Ste 190, at the Santa Babara Harbor, Santa Barbara, CA 93109-2344 +1 805-962-8404
Excellent
60%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 199 reviews

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Located on the water's edge of the Santa Barbara Harbor, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum contains exciting & educational exhibits set inside of nearly 8,000 square feet of Museum space. The Maritime Museum also offers a wide range of educational programs including docent tours, and Tall Ship tours. Admission also includes a series of films shown daily in our large screen, high-definition Munger Theater. Fun for the whole family!

Reviewed By Lee T - Thousand Oaks, California, United States

First floor has interesting history exhibits of early Santa Barbara, early maritime, and early commercial diving. Our daughter enjoyed the deep sea fishing hands on display. Upstairs we loved the surfing exhibit, then sat down and watched the movie for a break off our feet. Small kids would have fun here too!

10. Old Mission Santa Barbara

2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105-3611 +1 805-682-4713
Excellent
55%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Visitors can tour this historic Franciscan mission that features twin bell towers and lovely gardens.

Reviewed By SBTraveler123

Touring this mission is short and sweet compared to some of the other CA missions. For example, La Purissima takes a day. Although it is the "Mother of all Missions", I'm thinking that is due to the beauty of the building not the extent of the experience when visiting. You can see the interior and a few small displays, the church and then the grounds that include the cemetery and crypt. It feel authentic and mostly unchanged. After the tour, the Rose Garden across the street is the true treat. For a real dip into SB history I recommend the SB Historical Museum which is on De La Guerra Street downtown and rich with artifacts

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