You’re shuttling the family down the Pacific coast in a last-minute attempt to soak up that glorious California sunshine, and experience firsthand the laid-back, “it’s all good,” forever-tan coastal communities that the state is famous for. You’ve finally made it to the unique, culture-rich bubble that is Santa Barbara, but you’ve only got a few hours to spare before you jump back onto highway 101 to your next stop. Fear not! There is plenty to see in Santa Barbara if you only have a day or less.
I often receive looks of confusion when I use “sightseeing” and “courthouse” in the same sentence. Don’t worry – thoughts of jury duty and fighting traffic tickets won’t even cross your mind when you see this beautiful Santa Barbara landmark. Hop on a docent-led tour of the Spanish-style building, or head to the top to see the ultimate panoramic view of the city.
This must-see icon is central to much of Santa Barbara’s history. Explore the grounds on a self-guided tour or have a picnic lunch at the Mission Rose Garden just across the street. Make sure to check out the happenings online ahead of time, as you might be lucky enough to catch a special event. The I Madonnari chalk art festival and cultural performances for Old Spanish Days are traditionally held at the mission. Or join us on a mountains to shore bike ride and have the experience of riding from the top of the mountain, past the Santa Barbara Mission and directly to the Stearn’s Wharf.
The pier dates back to 1872, when it was used for cargo and passenger ships. Now, you can walk (or even drive) on the pier, grab a delicious seafood lunch, check out the shops, and visit the Ty Warner Sea Center.
The Santa Barbara Harbor is home to the Maritime Museum, as well as your best bet for some delicious local seafood (check out Brophy Bros., a local favorite). You can even catch a whale watching tour with the Condor Express, or come on a kayaking adventure and see sea lions with Santa Barbara Adventure Co.!
The Funk Zone:
If the name doesn’t win you over, the area’s eclectic art and wine tasting scene certainly will. Filled with multiple tasting rooms, art galleries, and modern restaurants, the Funk Zone is one of Santa Barbara’s best-kept secrets. It’s the perfect place to sneak in a couple of wine tastings if you don’t have enough time to make it to the Santa Ynez Valley wineries. You can also join us for a walking wine tour or have your team join us for team building and compete in a wine blending event, fun times are certain to happen!
Santa Barbara has a way with people. After hitting all of the major attractions in this gorgeous place, you may find yourself wanting to stay forever. This city is filled with culture and adventure, and it welcomes you to visit often, and stay as long as you can!
Do you have another Must See sight? Let us know in the comment section below.
photo credit: zoonabar/flickr commons