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Santa Barbara Activities

From the hills to the sea, Santa Barbara County has enough to keep you active. Whether you’re looking to hike the trails, make friends with dolphins, purchase a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops, or drink a margarita on a beach, Paradise Retreats makes it easy for you to choose your own adventure. If you’re looking for a customized itinerary near the neighborhood of your vacation rental, contact us and we’ll pick out the best “local approved” activities.

Entertainment


Annual Festivities

There’s always a celebration happening in our sunny seaside town. Each month there are several big events to look forward to. We have the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Summer Solstice, Fiesta, Pride, Earth Day, and many more. Be sure to check the event calendar for details so you’ll be prepared with the right costume.

Arcade & Bowling

Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond is a one-stop shop for kids and adults alike. Located in Goleta, the entertainment center offers 24 bowling lanes, an arcade with a variety of games to earn tickets and prizes, and a full-service restaurant and sports bar with 40 beers on tap. Enjoy a wood-fired pizza in between strikes while cheering on The Dodgers (or your team of choice, but do it quietly).

Concerts in the Park

Every summer Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation hosts a free “Concerts in the Park” series. Grab a blanket, snacks, and local bottle of wine before heading down to Chase Palm Park to hear a great band and dance with locals next to the ocean. Events usually take place on Thursdays in July and August in the early evening, but pick your blanket spot early!

Dancing & Karaoke

Sometimes you just gotta move to the music and we’ve got the best spots to shake that booty. Whatever genre of tunes, there’s a place to bust a move. Prefer to sing? We’ve got that too. Select your favorite Mariah Carey song and do your best to hit those high notes (we’ll provide the earplugs) at one of the many karaoke nights throughout town.

Live Music

Several local establishments are known for constantly hosting live musical performances to accompany your meal or beverage. From intimate settings to large-scale productions, there’s a musical experience to match your mood.

Outdoor Movies

On summer evenings thousands of people gather in silence, laying on blankets under the stars to enjoy classic films curated by UC Santa Barbara’s Arts & Lectures. The free outdoor events are usually July through August, where movies are projected on a large screen once a week in the Courthouse’s Sunken Garden.

Santa Barbara Zoo

Lions, leopards, and penguins, oh my! We’re a small town with a big zoo that serves as a safe haven for a variety of endangered animals. The accredited Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of oceanfront property and has a variety of children’s programs to educate and entertain. Be sure to ride the small train throughout the park.

Theater

From movie theaters to live plays and musicals, Santa Barbara has a variety of stages large and small. Several movie theatres are showing the latest films, small independent theatres are producing locally written plays, and larger stages are hosting traveling Broadway shows.

Local Exploration


Family Activities

Whatever the age, there’s plenty of fun to be had for children with all types of interests. Beaches and watersports are plentiful to tucker the little ones out or there’s a bevy of museums to trick them into learning something new while having fun at the same time. Plus, all of the activities are enjoyable for adults too!

Weddings

There’s no better place to say “I do” than the picturesque backdrop the Santa Barbara area offers. The courthouse, vineyards, and beaches are popular options for nuptials. We have a curated list of options to make your special day easy and breezy so you can focus on the important stuff, like love. Awwww.

Favorite Things to do in Ventura

The laid-back beach town of Ventura is known for surfing, its massive pier, and endless sunshine. The Ventura Harbor offers a variety of water activities, including direct access to the Channel Islands. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a surf spot or taqueria that disappoints.

Favorite Things to do in Los Olivos

In the heart of wine country, Los Olivos offers the most wine tasting rooms in one square block than any other area in the county, or maybe the world? Suffice to say, if you don’t like wine, this may not be the place for you. There are also some great restaurants that take pride in pairing dishes with locally made wine.

Favorite Things to do in Santa Ynez

Trade-in your flip-flops for cowboy boots and head to the country where horse farms, vineyards, and rolling hills abound. Here you can visit the actual site where the grapes in your favorite bottle of wine were grown and learn from the generations of farmers and vintners who made it. Top it off with a farm-to-table meal while watching the sun set behind the hills.

Favorite Things to do in Summerland

This quirky small town is home to 1,500 people that overlook the Pacific Ocean next to Highway 101. The area has a storied “spiritualist” history and is now a favorite stop for locals to grab a bite, taste wine, visit the beach, and explore antique stores.

Favorite Things to do in Montecito

This exclusive enclave stretches from the hills right to the beach and is beloved by celebrities. Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Prince Harry all live here and are frequently spotted throughout town. The newly renovated Rosewood Miramar Hotel is also a quick escape for Hollywood insiders, but it’s the locals that make this charming town what it is.

Rainy Day Activities

Even paradise can receive a few rainy days throughout the year. If you happen to experience a light storm, there’s still a ton of things to do and experience. Check out our rainy day itinerary to keep you entertained.

Weather in Santa Barbara

The beautiful sunny Santa Barbara is known for the perfect temperature all year round. It rarely gets too hot or too cold, leaving almost every day a beach day.

Weather in Ventura

A light coat and flip-flops are all you need when visiting the beachy town of Ventura. A foggy marine layer will clear by the morning, giving way to a bright and sunny afternoon most of the time.

Weather in Santa Ynez Valley

Craving something hot? Head inland to the Santa Ynez Valley and experience the mid-day waves of dry heat and cool night air that make these wines so delicious.

Day Trip to Santa Barbara

If you only have a day in Santa Barbara, there are a few “must-see” attractions and places to visit that will encapsulate the entire area. Although, you’ll most likely want to extend your trip to stay a bit longer after spending time in this beautiful seaside town.

Outdoor Recreation


Beaches

There are surfing beaches, fishing beaches, dog beaches, volleyball beaches, popular beaches, and remote beaches. Whatever beach vibe you’re feeling, we’ve got a beach for you.

Biking

Pack your spandex because we’ve got a lot of pavement for you to cycle through. The professional Tour of California race cruises through town every year with top-level cyclists hugging the curves of our roads. Follow their path or rent a beach cruiser and do what the name suggests on one of our many easygoing bike paths.

Camping

Sleep under the stars and immerse yourself in nature for a night or two. Unplug from technology and crack open a good book while admiring the wildlife at Lake Cachuma, the Los Padres National Forest, or one of our many beachside campgrounds.

Golf

Hit the links at picturesque courses set against the Pacific Ocean. Pick your favorite 9 iron and play a round with locals or hit the driving range and perfect the long ball. Plaid is not required but highly encouraged.

Hiking

Whether you’re an experienced backwoods hiker or a casual walker, there’s a trail for every age and level. Some trails will take you to a hidden waterfall or hot springs while others will give you 180-degree views of the ocean.

Horseback Riding

Put a spring in your giddyup with a horseback ride. Santa Ynez Valley is home to a variety of horse farms, including a mini horse ranch, and there are several options to experience the area from a horse’s point of view.

Pilates & Yoga

Break out a sweat or namaste throughout the day, Santa Barbara has a ton of fitness options to keep you on track and to settle your mind. Jump into a workout class or bring your yoga mat to a local park for a mid-day mental reset.

Skydiving

Is everything on land just a little too… boring? Then take a turn at falling towards it at a high rate of speed. Skydiving and hang gliding are just a few options that give a different point of view of our small towns... if you have the guts.

Shopping


Coast Village Road

Montecito’s main street isn’t just known for restaurants, it also hosts several boutiques with unique offerings. The newly renovated Montecito Country Mart also includes small shops ranging from high-end fashion to local designs.

La Arcada Plaza

The historic 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival plaza in the heart of the cultural arts district is home to local shops, restaurants, and galleries. Stop by and check out its famous turtle fountain and bronze statues.

La Cumbre Plaza

This outdoor shopping mall on Upper State Street offers brand-name retailers and casual dining. Macy’s, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma are the mainstays of this laid-back shopping center.

Pacific View Mall

Located in Ventura, Pacific View is a shopping center featuring a large variety of popular stores and restaurants including Target, Macy's, Express, Sephora, H&M, Wood Ranch, Red Robin, and California Pizza Kitchen.

Paseo Nuevo

In the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, Paseo Nuevo is an open-air mall with a variety of well-known retailers, a small movie theater, an art gallery, and restaurants. It’s also home to Santa during the holidays.

Sevilla Square

Local retailers banded together to create the Sevilla Square in downtown Santa Barbara, a few blocks away from the beach. A variety of boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and yoga studios make up this cute little shopping space.

Tours


Cal Coast Adventures

Every combination of biking, surfing, kayaks, and standup paddleboarding in Santa Barbara is offered with this local company. They even host a bicycle tour that cruises by local breweries and wineries for tastings.

Captain Jack’s

Jack is your guy for wine tasting, paragliding, kayaking, and horseback riding from Santa Barbara to Santa Ynez. Check out their “Sideways” tour based on the critically acclaimed movie filmed in the local area. Aye Aye Captain!

Cloud Climbers Jeep & Wine Tours

Cruise throughout the county in a classic retrofitted Jeep anywhere between Santa Ynez and Ojai for wine tours, mountainous road exploration, or to enjoy a sunset from a unique location.

Eat This, Shoot That - Food Tour

This is every Instagram influencer’s best day, walking around neighborhoods while tasting from local businesses and being encouraged to capture photos in the trendy Funk Zone. Imagine all the followers you can attract with these like-worthy shots.

Hot Rod Limo Tours

You’ll be sure to turn heads in this 1927 Ford hot rod limousine. Learn about Santa Barbara and see sites only the locals know from the convertible backseat of this unique vehicle.

iBike Wine Tours

Take a full day to explore the Santa Ynez Valley and its luxurious vineyards by bicycle. Pedal off those tastings, or upgrade to an electric bike, and take in the beauty.

Landshark

Experience Santa Barbara by land and sea, the best of both worlds. Climb aboard the amphibious tour vehicle for a personally narrated 90-minute land and sea tour adventure.

Santa Barbara Adventure Company

Adventure is the keyword with this tour company. Kayak around the pristine Channel Islands, bike through wine country, and surf the coastline with these thrill-seeking guides.

Santa Barbara Ghost Tours

Experience the paranormal with stories from Santa Barbara’s spooky past. There are several ghost tour options, including one in the afternoon if you’re too afraid of the dark.

Santa Barbara Museums

For a small town, we have a range of museums to enjoy and expand your mind. Fine art, history, sea life, and interactive education are all options to explore while in town.

Santa Barbara Trolley

Cruise through town in a classic trolley with all the bells and whistles (literally). The 90-minute tour hits up all the hot spots with a knowledgeable guide. Their holiday light tour is a local’s favorite, be sure to get your tickets early.

SB Buggie

Choose your own touring adventure by hopping in these three-wheeled buggies and rip through the streets of Santa Barbara, or wherever else you feel like going. These fun little cars are completely street legal and are available to anyone with a license.

Segway of Santa Barbara

Why walk around town when you can glide on a “personal transporter?” We promise you’ll look cool. Join a tour or forge your own path through downtown Santa Barbara. If the segway isn’t your thing, check out their very cool Polaris Slingshot that’s available to rent.

Water Sports


Cruising and Sailing

There’s no better place to watch a Santa Barbara sunset than from the deep blue sea. Hop on a yacht or sailboat to get a glimpse of the pristine coastline or partake in the weekly regatta known as “Wet Wednesday” from the local yacht club.

Diving

Some of the best views are deep below the surface where fish and sea creatures are in their natural habitat. Scuba divers of all levels enjoy the dives off the coast of the nearby uninhabited Channel Islands.

Fishing

Why pay for a fancy filet of fish when you can catch your own? Rent poles and try your luck at the end of Stearns Wharf or jump on a deep-sea charter for the day and catch everything from anglers to rockfish.

Kayaking

Sometimes the best workouts are sitting down, like in a kayak. Paddle down the coast or cruise around the harbor with a cooler and sandwich. Keep the food tucked away or you might make some sea lion friends.

Surfing & SUP

The Santa Barbara Coast offers surf spots for beginners to professional competitors. Rent a surfboard to hang ten or stand up paddleboard along the coastline with resident dolphins.

Whale Watching

The Channel Islands provide a perfect waterway for large marine life to cruise through. Orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales are commonly seen along with the aptly named common dolphin. Several tours are available all year long.