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Your guide to Santa Barbara
All About Santa Barbara
Palm-studded Santa Barbara sits on a pristine stretch of California coastline, bringing together the area's Spanish influence, laid-back beach vibe, and upscale sensibility. The city is home to breathtaking nature, inspiring arts and culture, and an incredible variety of food and wine. Known for broad sandy beaches, you can sunbathe or enjoy a breathtaking sunset at East Beach — a favorite located east of State Street, Santa Barbara’s main thoroughfare for boutique shopping and world-class dining. Head over to Leadbetter Beach for surfing, boogie boarding, and paddle boarding.
Outside town, you’ll find an abundance of vineyards and wineries set in the valleys of the Santa Ynez Mountains, and just off the shore is Channel Islands National Park, where you can kayak through caves, snorkel in crystal-clear waters, and hike among wildlife. Sitting at the doorstep of Los Padres National Forest, the nearby Romero Canyon Trailhead offers great opportunities for further hiking or mountain biking. Back in town, history buffs can explore the city’s Spanish heritage at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History or the Santa Barbara Historical Museum before refueling at one of the city’s many dining options, from harbor-side classics, stylish hot spots, and cozy State Street cafes.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Santa Barbara?
Those looking for a classic beach vacation will want to come during the summer months, as July and August are when the sun and water are their warmest for swimming and sunbathing. The shoulder seasons — March to May and September to November — are also great times to visit. The weather is still warm, and Santa Barbara vacation home rentals are easier to find. Winters are chilly and wet — December through February sees the most rainfall — but you will be able to enjoy the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January, along with the buzz of Restaurant Week. No matter what time of year you visit, be sure to pack layers as morning and late evening temperatures tend to be cooler.
What are the top things to do in Santa Barbara?
Santa Barbara Scenic Drive
Hop in your car and explore the riotous colors and classic California scenery of Santa Barbara on this self-guided tour. The Santa Barbara Scenic Drive covers 25 miles of immaculate shoreline beneath the towering Santa Ynez Mountains and through palm-lined roads. The drive itself only takes about one hour, but give yourself half a day to explore the city from Santa Barbara Harbor and marvel at the spectacular mansions in Montecito.
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Step back in time for a glimpse into Santa Barbara’s origins when you visit this California mission. The mission now hosts a museum featuring artifacts of the time and early photographs of the area. Explore the mission grounds, spanning 13 acres, on a leisurely self-guided tour. Don’t miss La Huerta, a garden showcasing flora dating back to the mission's early years.
The Funk Zone
It’s all about the art in the Funk Zone. Once a manufacturing hub and industrial area where artists, surfboard makers, and urban winemakers set up shop, the Funk Zone is now home to hip restaurants, boutiques, wine-tasting rooms, and galleries. Walk the 13-block neighborhood and check out the colorful murals adorning the walls. Grab an Urban Wine Trail map and make your way through the area’s wineries before finishing the day with tacos and burritos on one of the neighborhood’s many patios.