Fun Winter Activities in Santa Barbara to Enjoy Outdoors

With temperatures hovering in the upper 60s throughout winter, the town of Santa Barbara is a great location for enjoying the beautiful California coastline and all of the winter activities in Santa Barbara!

Celebrate the Holidays

With twinkling holiday lights strung between Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings, Santa Barbara becomes even more charming in winter. Enjoy the town’s lights with a ride aboard the delightful open-air trolley. With darkness blanketing the town and a chill in the air, sipping hot cider and singing carols aboard the trolley is a quintessential holiday activity. Taking place in early December, you won’t want to miss Santa Barbara’s unique annual boat parade of lights and the experience of celebrating the holidays along the coastline. Stake your claim on a viewing spot at Stearns Wharf or the breakwater, and watch as over 30 decorated boats sail, motor, and paddle by. Stay afterward for the colorful fireworks show and experience one of the best winter activities in Santa Barbara!

Observe Whales and Monarch Butterflies in Migration

With whale watching season falling from December to April and monarch butterfly season falling from mid-November to mid-February, winter in Santa Barbara is ideal for viewing these magnificent creatures. Whale watching cruises off the coast are popular ways to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Head to one of the area’s butterfly groves to see thousands of delicate monarch butterflies fluttering about. Usually seen clustered on pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees, their distinctive orange, white, and black patterns are remarkable to see in such large quantities.

Get Active

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest, there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy during a Santa Barbara winter. Take advantage of the cooler weather to tackle one of the many hiking trails in the area. Surfers will enjoy the larger swell that winter months bring, especially the challenge at Rincon in Carpinteria for more advanced surfers. Beginners can start at Ledbetter or Santa Claus Beach and enjoy the thinner crowds during the off season.

Book a Stay to Enjoy These Winter Activities in Santa Barbara

At Paradise Retreats, we specialize in luxury vacation rentals in Santa Barbara and Montecito, California. Whether you’re looking for a waterfront property with a private pool or a quiet retreat tucked away in wine country, we have a wide variety of options.