Santa Barbara is a seriously beautiful part of California & not one to miss if you’re on your way down the California coast (roadtrip, anybody?). I’ve got a best friend who lives here now & so I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few times. Each time we head into town, I add to my favorites.
See below for my picks & let me know what you think. I’m not an expert on this town, but definitely wanted to point out some of the places I like to visit when I’m here. There’s a lot to do & see here so I’d love to hear your recommendations for what to do & see & eat on my next trip!
SEE & EXPLORE
Stearn’s Wharf – The wharf is fun to walk down & the beach is seriously gorgeous. I highly recommend spending a sunny afternoon just hanging out here! It’s just all the way at the end of State Street & there’s usually plenty of street parking if you are willing to drive around a bit (most of it free for the first 75 minutes, too).
Merry-Go-Round – This antique carousel is worth a little detour. It’s a cute stop for anybody who appreciates old things (or kids! hah!). Two bucks for a five minute ride & worth every penny. The painted animals are gorgeous & super photogenic, too! Check them out on Yelp here for even more details.
Kayaking! – We rented sit on top kayaks from Santa Barbara Sail & loved paddling around the harbor & the ocean. You’re allowed as far North as you’d like, it’s gorgeous, & we got some great views of the sailboats out & about for the day (there was also a regatta going on while we were there). It’s only $10 per hour ($5 for students!) to rent your own kayak or $15 for a double (plus tax & $2 damage insurance). Stand Up Paddleboards are also available & I think we’ll definitely do that next time. The staff was super nice & helpful, too. Here’s the website; go at it!
Beaches – All of the beaches in the area are gorgeous. I was blown away by the beach in Santa Barbara the first time I saw it; you can really see why they market this area as the American Rivera. I even went swimming here in my bathing suit last year, in September. It’s not quite as warm as Hawaii or anything, but it’s pretty beautiful & a magical place to take a dip. I’ve also had the opportunity to walk the beach in Goleta – check it out if you’re farther North! SO much good ocean here.
The Natural Cafè – I had the best vegetarian enchiladas here & loved the fresh, clean, & healthy food. The ambience is decent for a lunch place or relaxed dinner, but mostly I was just happy to get a good meal in my belly for a reasonable price. (& I had leftovers for the next day, to boot!)
The French Press – The sweetest little independent coffeehouse. I’ve heard they’ve even started roasting their own coffee now! There’s also a great patio here, in case you just want to get a good cup of coffee & hang out. (Who wouldn’t?) See their site & find out their location here.
Pressed Juicery – I can’t be the only one who has heard a ton about this place. I went in for a taste, but didn’t purchase anything. If you’re in the area, stop in for some free samples, to see the branding, & perhaps to buy something (if you don’t mind the $6.50 price tag). The juice was definitely delicious & unusual & I recommend taste testing & maybe even buying a bottle! (There are many locations, including in San Francisco & the Bay Area.)
All photography in this post by Simone Anne