Visitors coming to Santa Barbara for either the first or tenth time can expect wonderful outdoor activities throughout the city. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous locale and will have plenty for you to see and do no matter what time of year you come to visit. Since Santa Barbara is located right on the coast, you can expect a rain cloud or two during extended stays in the city. If that happens while you are visiting, simply enjoy a variety of indoor activities to help you pass the time until the clouds let up. Here are some of our favorite rainy day activities in Santa Barbara:
Visit a Local Landmark
Santa Barbara is home to some incredible local landmarks that are designed with the beautiful Spanish colonial design that the city is known for. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is the city’s top tourist attraction and for good reason. This beautiful building features a bright white exterior and crimson red roof tile that is a sight to see. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is surrounded by a beautiful garden that is often used for weddings and other special events. While you may not be able to tour the gardens on a rainy day you can easily head inside for a self-guided tour. Take in a rich history of Santa Barbara and see the infamous Mural Room with giant murals painted around the room. Make sure to call the Santa Barbara Court House at 805-962-6464 before you venture to make sure the courthouse is open for visitors that day.
Another great landmark you have to check out is the Old Mission Santa Barbara. Similar to the courthouse, this historical building features a lovely architectural design and surrounding gardens. The interior of the building is open for exploration making it ideal for a rainy day. The twin bells have been held up perfectly so you can see everything the way it was meant to be.
Visit the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Just because it is raining outside does not mean you need to avoid the water completely. Instead, venture over to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum located at the Santa Barbara Harbor. This local museum features incredible exhibits that feature educational programs and amazing artifacts. The Maritime Museum focuses on the harbor’s rich history with the Navy and many ships that found their way here. The Munger Theatre located at the museum shows detailed films in high definition to help you learn even more. The space and number of incredible exhibits can help you easily spend two hours at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
Catch a Show at Granada Theatre
A little rain never stopped live theatre productions from going forward. You can enjoy a variety of live performances found exclusively in Santa Barbara at the Granada Theater. This historic theatre has been a mainstay for decades and continues to thrill audiences with amazing shows. Performances vary throughout the year with traveling acts finding their way at the theatre. Call 805-899-3000 to see which performances will be showing during your stay in Santa Barbara. Granada Theatre also partners with The Good Lion, a local cocktail bar, for a weekly music series every Thursday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Come check out the live music with a handcrafted cocktail in hand!
Stop by Santa Barbara Winery
If the rain is light you can easily make your way just out of town to explore one of the many wineries the region is known for. Santa Barbara features its own “Napa Valley” with a string of wineries located a short drive away. One of our favorites is Santa Barbara Winery that features an indoor tasting room where you can try out their award-winning wines. They feature all of your favorite types including pinot noirs, chardonnays, merlots, and much more. The sommeliers on hand will help you find the wine that is perfect for you. While winery tours may be restricted for rainy days you can easily have fun with friends as you relax indoors. Don’t forget to grab a bottle (or a few) to take back to your vacation rental!
Get Hands on at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
Santa Barbara features its own aquarium where you can get hands-on with incredible underwater critters. Take the kids over to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center for educational programming, unique exhibits, and hands-on experiences with rays, sharks, and much more. This indoor aquarium will have your children raving about all of the fun and excitement during their stop-through.
Plan Out Your Activities in Santa Barbara
As you can see, there is still so much to see and do when you vacation to Santa Barbara and see the occasional rainy day. Our vacation rentals will keep you comfortable throughout your stay with luxury amenities and prime locations for all of these activities in Santa Barbara.
Just when you think Santa Barbara cannot get any better than it already is, you will be thrilled to learn about the local tour companies. Navigating our oceanside home can be tricky if you do not know where to start; this is where these entertaining tour services take you around to the best parts of Santa Barbara. Professional tour guides can be found all over the city, providing plenty of exciting options that your family is sure to love. Take a look at some of the top tours in Santa Barbara:
Santa Barbara Adventure Company
The name says it all when you book a thrilling tour with Santa Barbara Adventure Company. Our vacation destination is the perfect spot where you can find all kinds of outdoor challenges. Santa Barbara Adventure Company is here to take you every step of the way. Their tours take you out onto the shores of Santa Barbara. You will be taken on boat to the surrounding islands that surround the coast where you will be able to stand up paddleboard and kayak. This type of experience can be scary if it’s your first time but the team at Santa Barbara Adventure Company will help you feel comfortable. The views are second to none and show off the incredible rocky peaks that come up out of the water. You can even navigate caves that the water has created over thousands of years too. Each tour group is small to keep up social distancing. You will not feel safer with any other tour option right here in Santa Barbara!
Santa Barbara Trolley
Santa Barbara has a rich history that deserves to be explored, especially by first-time visitors. If you wish to learn more about the city while seeing its important landmarks, make sure to book a tour with Santa Barbara Trolley. This loveable tour is perfect for individuals of all ages who wish to check out the city in a way not available anywhere else. The tours last approximately 90 minutes to two hours and features entertaining commentary by your driver. You will learn all about how Santa Barbara has changed over the decades and what us locals expect to see it become. Feel free to throw all kinds of questions your driver’s way; they look forward to educating you on all kinds of topics. The Santa Barbara Trolley is an experience you cannot skip here in the area!
Captain Jack’s Santa Barbara Tours, LLC
There is much more offered in tours in Santa Barbara than just exploring city landmarks and the beautiful coast. Captain Jack’s Santa Barbara Tours, LLC is here to offer you all kinds of exciting tour options for your stay. Are you wanting to explore the surrounding Wine Country and its illustrious wineries? If so, the Wine Country Tour is perfect for you and the gang. You will be transported to multiple wineries where you can taste award-winning vintages. You will even get a stop at Olive Oil and Vinegar Stop for a quick pallet cleanser midway through your tour. The beautiful Santa Barbara landscape offers the best backdrop for horseback riding. Learn how to enjoy this incredible activity for the first time with a trained professional. The ocean views in the background make it a romantic activity at sunset too. The same can be said for a kayak tour that takes you out onto the water. Leave Santa Barbara Harbor and be guided along the beautiful coast. The best part of all Captain Jack’s offers all of these tours in incredible packages so you can enjoy two or more tours together in a single day. That is a perfect excuse to spend the entire day outside taking in the beautiful coastal weather!
Taste Food Tours in Santa Barbara
Last but certainly not least, you need to try out some of the incredible food here in Santa Barbara. Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours offers a comprehensive food tasting tour that takes you to local restaurants that have been staples of the community. Try out small plates of all kinds of tasty dishes that will satisfy any craving. The tasting tour also includes tastings of wine and olive oil for a true Santa Barbara experience. The tour guides are lovers of food so there is no one better to trust for this type of exciting tour. Each tour is a walking tour, so make sure to wear some comfortable shoes!
More to See Around Santa Barbara
When it comes to finding exciting things to do around Santa Barbara, you simply cannot beat these unbelievable tour options. Get ready for your stay in our coastal city by reserving one of our exclusive vacation rentals in the area. Prepare for luxury amenities and comfortable home features in every property.
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.
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.
We live in paradise every day of our lives and you would think we would get used to the perfection of Santa Barbara, maybe even begin to take it for granted, but the longer we live here, the more we realize how lucky we are. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, perfect restaurants, and probably our most favorite perfect of all, perfect spots for shopping in all of the country; our perfect paradise has it all! And because we know how much fun it is to lug back suitcases filled with treasures we have hunted down on our vacation getaways, we are providing this list of the best Santa Barbara shopping spots, so you can find your own perfect haul!
Lovebird Boutique & Jewelry, 535 State Street
As much as everyone loves their hometowns, sometimes it takes awhile for the latest trends and fashions to make it to your neck of the woods, so a trip away can be a godsend for your closet—especially when you visit Lovebird Boutique & Jewelry. Offering the latest trends at budget-friendly costs, it’s also a great place to pick up a sweet-smelling candle for your Aunt Debbie who stayed home to watch your precious pooch!
Plum Goods, 909 State Street
Speaking of picking up gifts for the folks back home, Plum Goods is another spot we love to browse. Specializing in organic, American, and upcycled goodies, you can feel good about spending your vacation dollars on a stained-glass moon to hang from your kitchen window, or those darling beaded earrings your mom will want to wear every day!
Warbler Records, 131 East De la Guerra Street
Remember the good old days when you would sit in your room listening to your favorite singers perform their hearts out on vinyl? The good news is that records are coming back in style—even better is the news you can buy the best of your childhood from Warbler Records. Even today’s stars are praising the virtues of vinyl, and you can buy whatever you like at this vintage store, a unique place in our Santa Barbara shopping spots.
Punch Vintage, 1223 State Street
If we didn’t have to work to earn money for our shopping habits, every spare moment of our day would be spent right here, perusing the aisles for treasures we can’t live without! This award-winning antique/vintage shopping spot offers everything from the smallest of trinkets to the grandest surprises; you may not be able to purchase that mid-century modern coffee table you’ve been dying to own, but there’s plenty of room for that art deco brooch in your carryon!
Paradise Retreats Offers More Than Just Santa Barbara Shopping Spots!
When it comes time to pick out your vacation home away from home, you’ll want to choose the best. Choose Paradise Retreats and discover how the luxury amenities and comfortable extras we provide make all the difference in your vacation experience. Reserve yours today!
Even if you have never been to Santa Barbara, you still probably know all about the wonderful things there are to do here in paradise. From hiking trails to surfing the swells to fine art, fine dining, and community theater, our oceanside town is an exciting and vibrant place to visit. And as if that weren’t enough, when you combine the standard activities with some of the following special events, your California vacation promises to be one that you will never forget. Here’s a list of some of our favorite upcoming Santa Barbara Attractions that should not be missed!
Nam June Paik: TV Clock
This ongoing video art show is scheduled to end soon, so if the art of Nam June Paik interests you, you should be sure to visit soon. Held every day except Mondays until October 14, this innovative show will make you stop and think. Found at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, ticket prices range from free to $10, making this show a treat that fits into any vacation budget.
USPA President’s Club Final, September 23
September is a big month for Santa Barbara attractions and the US Polo Association President’s Club Final is a big deal! Starting at 2:30PM at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, the ball drops at 3:00PM and the fun continues late into the night. Ticket prices start at $12 for General Admission and can skyrocket up to $500; an afterparty held in the main clubhouse allows the opportunity to let your hair down and dance like there’s no tomorrow.
Santa Barbara’s Vintner’s Celebration of Harvest Weekend, October 12 – 14
Held at the Old Mission Santa Ines, this fall celebration offers it all: food, wine, entertainment, wine, the I Love Lucy look-alike contest, more wine, and of course, the infamous grape stomp to help make more wine. Vacationing in wine country has never been so great!
Cancer: The Urgency of Now, November 2
Isn’t it great when you can do something fun and do a good deed at the same time? This benefit show, with the proceeds going towards the fight against cancer, features the piano stylings of David Bowie’s pianist, Mike Garson. It is a two-hour celebration held at the Lobero Theater. Ticket prices begin at $45 and top out at $200; this worthy benefit may just end up being the highlight of your entire vacation.
Choose Paradise and Enjoy More Santa Barbara Attractions These Time of the Year!
Paradise Retreats offers a vacation experience that you’ll never forget through our stylish houses that still maintain a sense of home, luxury amenities, and the chance for more family bonding experiences. Reserve yours today!
California—and Santa Barbara in particular—is known for incredible weather year-round. However, like other cities on the west coast, Santa Barbara can still receive the occasional rain shower that might reduce your time outdoors for the day. When that happens, do not let it ruin your day; instead, find some fun activities to do indoors in the city! Here are some awesome Santa Barbara rainy day activities to enjoy:
Find the Museums
Santa Barbara is a city rich with history that can easily be explored in one of the many museums nearby, whether it is exploring the natural history of the region or the art movements that have occurred locally. You can find an educational, yet exciting activity at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. This museum is next to the historic Old Mission, so you cannot miss it. You will be able to interact with unique exhibits that will keep you and the kids busy for hours. They will come out knowing so much more about the local fauna and flora from Southern California. Or make a visit to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where you can learn and view the different pieces of art that come from all over the world. History has never been so exciting!
Catch a Flick
There is nothing wrong with catching your favorite film on the big screen during your vacation. The Riveria Theatre is a single-screen theatre that plays independent films from all over the world. The hip teenager in your family will be thrilled to try something different. Or if the latest summer blockbuster is more your style, you can catch screenings every hour at the Arlington Theatre in its historic location downtown.
Grab a Bite to Eat
Of course, with Santa Barbara being so close to the ocean, you can expect to find all kinds of freshly caught seafood at nearby restaurants. After enjoying some of the many Santa Barbara rainy day activities available, grab a bite to eat! For fine Italian dining, check out Toma Restaurant and Bar and their incredible harbor views. Other local favorites include Los Agaves, Bouchon, Mony’s Mexican Food, and more.
Staying with Paradise Retreats, and Enjoying Great Santa Barbara Rainy Day Activities
You will find world class vacation rentals at Paradise Retreats, one of Santa Barbara’s most premier rental property management companies. We offer an incredible selection of luxury vacation rentals that will make your Santa Barbara vacation getaway one you will never forget. Give us a call today and we will find you the perfect vacation rental for your next trip.
So you’re planning some things to do in Santa Barbara and you have 48 hours to fill, but just aren’t sure how to do it? There’s no problem when staying in a Paradise Retreats vacation escape, because our helpful staff just lives for challenges like this one. Because we love our guests, we have compiled this list on how to best spend your 48 hours in Santa Barbara!
While It May Be Tempting to Sleep a Little Longer
When the sun begins to awaken you with its rays, you more than likely will be tempted to pull the pillow over your head and go back to sleep—but don’t! You only have 48 hours in paradise, and we’re going to fill as much of those waking moments as possible. Besides, you want to start your day out right with a hearty and filling breakfast at the Scarlett Begonia! Serving their famous Yukon Gold Cinnamon Roll and a large selection of breakfast goodies, their foods will keep your “engines” stoked for the next few hours of adventures.
After all that good food, a hike through the canyons of Parma Park will help burn off the extra calories consumed, and the views from the trails that traverse the park will feed your soul. Located off Stanwood Drive, it’s places like this that continually remind us that we do live in Paradise.
A quick lunch at Pickles & Swiss will stave off hunger pangs, but eat light; you want to save room for tonight’s romantic dinner at Bouchon Santa Barbara. The afternoon of your first day is meant for relaxing at Ledbetter Beach and resting your tired feet. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do in Santa Barbara in day 2.
Day 2 – Things to do in Santa Barbara
Day two is also divided into two parts, with the morning spent at Stearns Wharf. Start with breakfast at On the Alley, then continue the morning by visiting the stores and shops that make the Wharf so popular! Pick up souvenirs for your family, a cute new bikini for you, and if the mood strikes, check out the fishing equipment for rent at Stearns Wharf Bait & Tackle. Fishing off the pier is allowed, and who knows, you may even catch tonight’s dinner! Families with children will love spending the afternoon at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Hang around until 5PM and the animals get really active for feeding time!
As the Sun Sets on Another Gorgeous Day in Santa Barbara
Dinner on the patio of your Paradise Retreats home away from home is a grand experience, especially if you’re grilling up the catch of the day. Watch the sun set over the mountains in the background as you chat with your family about your fun-filled 48 hours in paradise and be thankful that you were able to spend a good portion of your time in one of the most comfortable and stylish vacation homes in all of California. Reserve yours today!
The grace period is over. Summer has officially arrived all over the world! Planning a vacation during the hot and muggy months of summer can often be an experience you wish could have taken place in the cooler months, but when you plan a Santa Barbara vacation, you’re guaranteed an awesome time, no matter what the temperatures are outside! It doesn’t hurt, however, that summer in Santa Barbara is temperate and even cool, but on those days when the red line does climb over the 85 degree mark, these will be the best things to do in Santa Barbara to keep you cool and happy!
Head to the Beach
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the water is perfect at the beaches of Santa Barbara, beaches that are the most beautiful in the world. Can you give us any reason why you shouldn’t spend a day or two enjoying the cool sensation of ocean water against lightly tanned skin? We didn’t think so, and if you’re feeling the burn of abnormally high temperatures, there’s nothing cooler!
Visit a Museum
The history of Santa Barbara is a rich and compelling one, and getting a peek into our past with a museum tour is one of our favorite ways to kill some hours on a hot summer afternoon. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History lets you explore our natural side and if art is more your thing, The Museum of Contemporary Art will keep you enthralled for hours!
Grab a Beer
Cold beer and a hot summer day goes together like peanut butter and jelly; each are fine on their own, but mix them together and you create something magical! The Lama Dog Tap Room & Bottle Shop is our current favorite, but every brewery in the area has something special to offer, so if you’re out and about and happen to see one that piques your interest, go ahead and check it out!
Rent a Paradise Retreats Home with a Pool
Nothing beats a swim under the stars, and if you have rented one of our homes with pools, you can enjoy their cool comforts ANY time of the day. Greet the morning with a splash or say farewell to the day with a quiet float as the stars twinkle overhead; there’s never a wrong time to take a dip when the pool is in your own backyard!
Rent Your Own Piece of Paradise Today!
The best vacations can be made better with the right vacation homes. Reserve yours today with Paradise Retreats and discover the difference!
One of the best things about living in Santa Barbara is practically having summer temps year-round, and because those temps range between the high 60s and the high 70s, our visitors never have to worry about being too hot or too cold. Our weather is perfect, and when you’re planning a large group event—be it a family reunion, a college reunion, or a special destination wedding—Santa Barbara and our Paradise Retreats vacation escapes are where your thoughts should turn! And because you and your guests probably won’t want to stay home the entire trip, we’ve compiled this list of the best Santa Barbara summer activities for your entire group!
Horseback Riding, Captain Jack’s Tours & Events
Captain Jack’s is the go-to tour group for any group tours of Santa Barbara, but for a truly Western experience, their horseback tours are unbeatable! For an hour and a half your group can experience the wonders of waterfalls, the majesty of the mountains, and breathtaking beauty of the ocean from atop a glorious steed. If you do nothing else during your stay in Santa Barbara, the group horseback ride from Captain Jack’s should not be missed! Kids 7 and over are invited to take in the tour as well!
Grapeline Wine Tours
Personally, we couldn’t imagine a better way to experience the beauty of Santa Barbara than by wine tour—Grapeline Wine Tours, to be exact! Offering a variety of tours of the best vineyards in Santa Barbara, this activity is for the 21 and over crowd only, but don’t worry; there’s plenty of other activities that your littles can take part in! This adventure is perfect for a bachelorette party weekend or your sorority reunion!
Whale Watching Cruises, Condor Express
If you have never had the breathtaking experience of watching a whale break through the waves, this trip to Santa Barbara is where it all changes! Condor Express offers summer tours lasting 4.5 hours that take you to where the humpback and blue whales are known to congregate; you might get to watch some dolphins frolicking as well! Perfect for kids of ALL ages, the memories made in the waters of the Pacific Ocean will last a lifetime.
Santa Barbara Summer Activities
To be perfectly honest, our Paradise Retreats vacation escapes are designed to be a vacation experience you will want to never end. Spend hours by the pool, play a game of charades in front of a roaring fire on a chilly summer night, or create a gourmet meal in an outdoor kitchen as you laugh, talk, and soak in the beauty of another Santa Barbara night. The options for fun for your entire group are endless. Contact us today to reserve your vacation rental and start making memories this summer when you enjoy Santa Barbara summer activities!
One of the best parts of any vacation, in our humble opinion, is trying out the food that is special to the region we are visiting, such as Texas barbecue, Mexican food in Arizona, or any of the southern specialties that can be found in our southern states. When visiting New York, the opportunity to sample food of all nationalities makes us salivate, but at the end of the day, it’s the food you can taste right here in California that makes us the happiest. Offering a giant selection of international foods, homestyle American comfort foods, and even some of the sweetest treats from the sea, our Santa Barbara restaurants are amongst the best in the nation, and these upcoming food festivals allow you to experience them all!
Santa Barbara Vintners Festival, April 19th – 23rd
For over 35 years, Santa Barbara Wine Country has been the place to taste the latest wines and delicious foods prepared by top chefs from all over the world. Prices range from $25 for nondrinkers to $100 for early entry. For an additional $50, you can purchase a Vintner’s Visa and taste the goods at 12 different Santa Barbara Wine Country tasting rooms. Offering a bubble room for champagne, cooking demonstrations, and all the wine you can drink, this festival has become an annual tradition for a reason!
Roar and Pour Festival, May 5th
If you notice a trend in these festivals, it’s probably about the wine; we live in wine country and firmly believe that if you’ve got it, flaunt it! The Roar and Pour Festival is held at the Santa Barbara Zoo and allows attendants to stroll through the zoo watching the animals at their most lively while sipping wines offered from 30 different wineries and enjoying the creative creations of our local food trucks. Food truck meals are extra, but a VIP ticket can be purchased which offers appetizers to go along with the wine tastings.
Taste of Santa Barbara Food Walking Tour, May 5th – May 27th
Lasting for three hours and leading the way to six shops and restaurants, this walking tour allows you to burn calories as you sample the best our ocean town has to offer. Offering everything from chocolates to pastries and cheeses to Italian dishes, the Taste of Santa Barbara Food Walking Tour costs $85; reservations can be made by calling (805) 295-6867.