Teeming with squawking seagulls, salty air, and friendly locals, Santa Barbara is a lively town full of history and stunning architecture, yet far enough outside of Los Angeles to create a relaxing and slower paced atmosphere. I only had about a day and a half to spend in this coastal town, but that was more than enough time to make me fall in love.
There are plenty of activities to fill your days in Santa Barbara and below I’ve featured a few things to make your stay phenomenal!
Grab a bite to eat on the pier
There are multiple restaurants to eat at here, though a personal favorite is Moby Dick’s. Sit outdoors and watch seals swim in the ocean as you gorge on some delicious food. Try the clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl or the fish and chips. Yum to the max.
Take a stroll along State Street and Paseo Nuevo
Just off of State Street, one of the main streets in Santa Barbara, is where a plethora of stores can be found. Window shop, or be prepared for exercising your credit card. Take a turn on Paseo Nuevo to stroll along even more stores and restaurants. Done shopping and dining? Follow State Street to the ocean and rest at the beach.
Visit the Botanical Garden
Tour the gardens (admission is around $10) featuring native California plants while you relax amongst the calming vistas.
Cool off with some fabulous homemade ice cream from McConnell’s. Seriously, it’s amazing. I had it twice in one day. And I’m not mad about that at all. You may even run into some celebrities here, as they like to frequent this local shop (there are two locations, apparently the celebrities go to the location on Mission St. Just look at all the pictures of happy celebs covering their wall.).
Visit the Old Mission Santa Barbara
Walk through a Mission church and museum with Native American artifacts and colonial-era art. Also called ‘Queen of the Missions,’ this church, founded in 1786 by the Spanish Franciscans, is still active. It is the 10th mission founded in California by the Spanish Franciscans.
Get an aerial view of the world (well, the Santa Barbara world) from the Courthouse balcony
Free to the public, this courthouse displays beautiful architecture and rich history within its walls and extending to its lawns. Climb the steps, and read about the history of the building, to reach the balcony, where you can see all of Santa Barbara and even look at placards telling you where certain landmarks are located. Definitely the best views in town!
Peruse an art festival
My friend and I arrived on a Sunday, which happened to be the weekly Arts and Crafts Festival, held parallel to the ocean, on Cabrillo Boulevard. Local artisans present their goods: anything from canvas paintings, pottery, woodwork, and metal jewelry. I purchased a beautiful sterling silver ring for only $10 here. Supporting locals is awesome!