Santa Barbara is a beautiful city located on the central coast of California.
With its Mediterranean climate, stunning ocean views, and abundance of activities, it’s no wonder Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination.
You can enjoy the city’s rich history by exploring its many museums and art galleries.
Or you can spend a day outdoors hiking or biking through one of Santa Barbara’s many parks.
There’s also plenty of shopping and dining to be enjoyed in Santa Barbara.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an exciting trip, Santa Barbara has plenty to offer everyone.
So why not come and see for yourself what this wonderful city has to offer?
Here are the top 21 attractions and things to do in Santa Barbara.
1. Meet the Animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo
Looking for a fun activity in Santa Barbara? Then be sure to visit the Santa Barbara Zoo!
Home to over 500 animals, the zoo is one of the top attractions in the area.
You can see all sorts of animals, from lions and tigers to giraffes and snow leopards.
And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see a baby animal!
The Santa Barbara Zoo also offers educational programs and opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the animals.
So whether you’re a local or just visiting, be sure to add the Santa Barbara Zoo to your list of things to do.
2. Go to the Old Mission Santa Barbara
The Old Mission Santa Barbara is a must-see for any history lover.
This historic landmark was founded in 1786 and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
The mission is best known for its beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture, which is on display in the church, courtyard, and other buildings on the site.
You can also explore the museum, which houses a collection of artifacts from the mission’s history.
The grounds of the Old Mission Santa Barbara are also worth exploring, as they feature a variety of native plants and animals.
Whether you’re interested in history or just want to enjoy a beautiful setting, the Old Mission Santa Barbara is definitely worth a visit.
3. Take in the Breathtaking Views From Stearns Wharf
Stearns Wharf is a landmark in Santa Barbara and a must-see for any visitor.
The wharf offers stunning views of the harbor, beaches, and nearby islands.
It’s also a great place to people-watch, as locals and tourists alike stroll along the boardwalk.
While there are plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy, one of the best things about the wharf is simply taking in the fresh sea air and enjoying the relaxation of being by the water.
So whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy some retail therapy or simply want to soak up the atmosphere, be sure to add Stearns Wharf to your list of Santa Barbara highlights.
4. Learn about Native Plants at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a great place to learn about native plants.
The garden has a wide variety of native plants, from succulents to trees.
There are also several displays that explain the importance of native plants.
The displays explain how native plants help to improve water quality and how they provide food and shelter for wildlife.
In addition, the displays explain how native plants can help to prevent erosion and how they can be used in landscaping.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a great place to learn about native plants, and it’s also a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.
5. Unwind in the Sun at Leadbetter Beach
Santa Barbara is a beautiful beach town located on the central coast of California.
The climate is mild and sunny year-round, making it the perfect place to relax and soak up some Vitamin D.
Leadbetter Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Santa Barbara, and for good reason.
The sparkling ocean water and soft sand are inviting, and there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the sun.
The beach is also well-equipped with lifeguards, restrooms, and showers, so you can feel confident and comfortable while you’re relaxing.
So whether you’re looking to catch some waves or just soak up some rays, Leadbetter Beach is the perfect spot.
6. See a Show at the Granada Theatre
The Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara is one of the most popular entertainment venues in California.
Located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, the theatre has been host to a variety of events, including concerts, musicals, comedy shows, and more.
Built in 1924, the theatre was originally designed as a movie palace.
However, it has since been renovated and now features a state-of-the-art sound system and a large stage that is perfect for live performances.
If you’re looking for a fun night out, be sure to check out the Granada Theatre Santa Barbara.
7. Catch an Interactive Exhibit at MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is a Santa Barbara treasure trove of hands-on, interactive exhibits for people of all ages.
The museum’s mission is to inspire the innovator in everyone, and it does so through exhibits that encourage play, creativity, and problem-solving.
With a MOXI membership, you can see the latest exhibit whenever you want!
The current exhibit is all about the science of sound. Learn about how sound waves travel, build your own musical instruments, and experiment with sound-proofing materials.
There’s also a special section just for little ones, with activities and games that teach the basics of sound science in a way that’s fun and easy to understand.
So come on down to MOXI and explore the science of sound!
8. Have Fun With Your Pet at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park
Arroyo Burro Beach County Park is the perfect place to play with your furry friend.
With over three miles of dog-friendly shoreline, it’s easy to find a spot to romp and fetch.
The beach is also a great place to socialize, as there are plenty of other dog owners enjoying the day with their pups.
And when you’re ready for a break, the park offers plenty of shady picnic areas and stunning coastal views.
So whether you’re looking for a place to burn some energy or just relax in the sun, Arroyo Burro Beach County Park is the perfect destination for you and your furry friend.
9. Shop ’til You Drop at the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center
The Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center is the perfect place to shop ’til you drop.
This Santa Barbara landmark is home to over 80 stores, including high-end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.
Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion trends or the perfect gift, Paseo Nuevo has something for everyone.
And when you need a break from all the shopping, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from.
So why not head to Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center next time you’re in Santa Barbara? You won’t be disappointed.
10. Take in the Beautiful Views at Mission Rose Garden
The Mission Rose Garden in Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places to visit.
With its stunning scenery and tranquil atmosphere, the garden is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
The garden features a variety of different roses, as well as other flowering plants and trees.
You can stroll through the paths, or sit and enjoy the view.
There is also a large pond in the center of the garden, which is home to a variety of fish and ducks.
The Mission Rose Garden is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.
So whether you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or just want to enjoy some beautiful flowers, be sure to check out Mission Rose Garden.
11. Explore the Caves at Painted Cave State Park
If you’re looking for an adventure that’s off the beaten path, look no further than Painted Cave State Park in Santa Barbara.
This unique state park is home to a network of caves, each with its own distinctive features.
You can explore the caves on foot or take a guided tour to learn more about their geological history.
The park also offers a variety of other activities, such as hiking, picnicking, and stargazing.
So whether you’re looking for a day of fun or a chance to learn something new, be sure to check out Painted Cave State Park.
12. Take a Scenic Drive Down the Winding Jalama Road
Take a scenic drive down the winding Jalama Road and enjoy the beautiful ocean views.
The road is about 10 miles long and takes about an hour to drive.
You’ll find plenty of places to stop along the way to take in the view or go for a walk on the beach.
And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife!
So whether you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon or a breathtaking place to watch the sunset, Jalama Road is sure to please.
13. Have a Picnic at One of Santa Barbara’s Many Parks
Santa Barbara is known for its many beautiful parks, and picnicking is a popular pastime among locals and visitors alike.
There are several parks to choose from, each with its own unique features.
For example, Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden is a serene oasis in the heart of downtown, while Mission County Park offers miles of hiking trails and scenic views.
No matter what your picnic style is, there’s sure to be a park in Santa Barbara that’s perfect for you. So grab a blanket, some snacks, and enjoy a day in nature.
14. Get up Close & Personal With Marine Life at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is a great place to get up close and personal with marine life.
The museum has a variety of exhibits that showcase different types of marine life, from fish and dolphins to whales and sea turtles.
You can learn about the different adaptations that help these animals survive in their underwater homes.
in the museum’s hands-on display, you can also touch stingrays and sharks.
In addition, the museum offers a variety of educational programs that teach children about the importance of conserving marine life.
With so much to see and do, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is a great place to learn about the wonders of the ocean.
15. Discover the Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara is home to many great museums, but one that should not be missed is the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
This world-renowned museum houses a vast collection of art from around the globe, spanning several centuries.
From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary paintings, there is something for everyone at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
In addition to the artwork on display, the museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events.
Whether you’re a lifelong art lover or just getting started, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is sure to impress.
16. Visit the Santa Barbara Courthouse & Mural Room
The Santa Barbara Courthouse is one of the most iconic buildings in the city.
Built in 1929, the courthouse is renowned for its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
But the courthouse is more than just a pretty face; it’s also home to the Mural Room, a hidden gem that’s well worth a visit.
The Mural Room is decorated with a series of murals depicting the history of Santa Barbara.
The murals were painted by local artist Angela Johnson and offer a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past.
Best of all, the Mural Room is free to visit. So next time you’re in Santa Barbara, be sure to add the Santa Barbara Courthouse to your list of must-see sights.
17. See the Famous Santa Barbara Bowl
The Santa Barbara Bowl is an outdoor amphitheater in Santa Barbara, California that hosts a wide variety of musical artists.
The Bowl is known for its excellent acoustics and scenic views, and has been described as one of the best venues in the world for experiencing live music.
Located just a few blocks from the beach, the Santa Barbara Bowl is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
Whether you’re a fan of classical music or rock ‘n’ roll, the Santa Barbara Bowl is sure to have a concert that you’ll enjoy.
So come on down and experience the magic of the Santa Barbara Bowl!
18. Hop on the Santa Barbara Trolley
The Santa Barbara Trolley is a great way to see the sights of Santa Barbara.
The trolley runs on a loop, so you can hop on and off at any of the stops along the way.
The trolley also has a narration system that provides information about each of the stops, making it a great way to learn about the history and culture of Santa Barbara.
Best of all, the Santa Barbara Trolley is free to ride!
So whether you’re a local or a visitor, be sure to take a ride on the Santa Barbara Trolley.
19. Go Golfing at One of Santa Barbara’s Many Golf Courses
Santa Barbara is a golfer’s paradise, with over a dozen courses to choose from.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging round of 18 or a leisurely 9-hole game, you’ll find the perfect course in Santa Barbara.
And with breathtaking views of the ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more scenic setting for golf.
So grab your clubs and head to Santa Barbara for a round of golf that you’ll never forget.
20. Take a Tour of Santa Barbara’s Historic Presidio
Santa Barbara’s Presidio is a Spanish colonial-era fortress that was built in 1782 to protect the city from attack.
Today, the Presidio is a National Historic Landmark and a popular tourist destination.
You can tour the grounds and learn about the history of the fort, as well as see some of the original buildings that have been restored.
The Presidio also has a museum with exhibits on the military history of Santa Barbara.
And be sure to take some time to explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the fort.
With its rich history and stunning setting, the Santa Barbara Presidio is a must-see for any visitor to the city.
21. Enjoy the Views From Atop Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point is one of the most popular spots in the park for a reason: the views are simply unbeatable.
On a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction.
To the north, you can just make out the outline of the city.
To the south, there’s a beautiful lake that sparkles in the sunlight.
And to the west, you can see the mountains that you’ll be hiking in tomorrow.
Whether you’re trying to get your bearings or just taking a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of your surroundings, Inspiration Point is the perfect place to do it.
So take a deep breath and enjoy the view!