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Santa Barbara Tourist Attractions

Arts & Culture


The Santa Barbara Art Show

We are awfully proud of our local artists and try to allow them the opportunity to show their wares as often as possible. You can visit the many shops and galleries located in our downtown area, participate in the Santa Barbara Art Walk the first Thursday of every month, or stroll the aisles of the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show held every Sunday throughout the year, and the occasional Saturday as well (Holiday weekends, we extend the show to Saturdays and Sundays!). Opening at 10 and ending at dusk, this show has been in existence since 1965. Created by artists and sponsored by the City Parks & Recreation Department, lazy Sunday afternoons spent here are amongst some of our favorite memories!

The Monthly Art Walk in Santa Barbara

The natural beauty of the landscape of Santa Barbara lends itself to being a magnet for people with an artistic bent, and the people of Santa Barbara are some of the most creative around! Never is that more obvious than in the exhibits available on the monthly Santa Barbara Art Walk, held the first Thursday of each month. If you have the flexibility to schedule your vacation for that time, we strongly recommend that you do it—and that you pack lightly with a large suitcase. We think you will find plenty of wares to bring back home with you just from this event alone!

The Santa Barbara Bowl Amphitheater

We aren’t talking about an oversized soup bowl, nor are we talking about a college football event, we’re talking about the single-handled best place to see concerts in Santa Barbara! The Santa Barbara Bowl is one of our older amphitheaters, first built in 1936. With renovations from 2000 to 2014, this musical venue has the best of both worlds: A combination history and state of the art electronics that guarantee the music performed here will be of the highest sound quality!

The Easton Gallery – Top Santa Barbara Art Galleries

Anyone who visits the coastal town of Montecito, located in Santa Barbara County, can see that it boasts some of the best views that Southern California has to offer. Uniquely celebrating the stunning views of the area, The Easton Gallery highlights works from local contemporary artists and specializes in landscape paintings. Those who want to see beautiful interpretations of the area’s natural landscape will certainly want to visit The Easton Gallery.

Arlington Theater Santa Barbara

Whether you’re looking for a great night out in Santa Barbara or a cool place to hang out during the day, the Arlington Theater promises not to disappoint. As the largest movie theater and performing arts venue in the central California coastal town, it welcomes in a number of renowned musical artists, serves as host to events scheduled for the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and offers regular move show times. The sheer beauty of the theater alone makes this attraction worth a visit, but any time spent here during your vacation is guaranteed to be a wonderful experience.

Santa Barbara Chumash Painted Cave

If you’re looking to head off the beaten path for part of your Santa Barbara vacation, the Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is the perfect option. Located off Highway 154 only 22 miles from the city’s downtown area, is one of California’s only spots to view original pictographs from the Santa Barbara Chumash Native American tribe. The park has been on the National Register of Historical Places since 1972.

The Granada Theater

Santa Barbara is known for its beautiful beaches and unbeatable weather, but it often does not get enough recognition for amazing culture that thrives here. This culture manifests itself in the Granada Theater, the most iconic and historic center for performances in the whole city. This is what you need to know about The Granada Theater.

The Lobero: Santa Barbara’s Favorite Theater

The Lobero Theatre has been a grand presence in the city of Santa Barbara since 1873 and many have enjoyed unforgettable performances by the many professional actors who have graced its stage. As California’s oldest continuously operating theatre, the Lobero has naturally undergone renovations over the years, but it’s never been closed and the entertainment has never stopped.

The Sunken Garden

With an average summer high temperature hovering around approximately 72-77 degrees, we can hardly blame you for wanting to get outside and absorb as much of the amazing weather as you can while you’re here in Santa Barbara! While there are a number of amazing outdoor attractions to choose from, if you’re looking for something that’s a little more relaxing while providing entertainment perfect for the entire family, then we recommend checking out the Sunken Garden Film Series. Read more about Santa Barbara attractions below:

Beaches


Santa Claus Beach

It’s no secret here in the Paradise Retreatshome office that we love Christmas. You won’t find us complaining about Christmas music playing before Halloween or decorations put up before Thanksgiving; we could live Christmas 24/7/365.

Butterfly Beach Montecito, California

Montecito, California is a quiet coastal town tucked away in Santa Barbara County. The town is both intimate and glamorous, which is why many celebrities flock to live here in luxury, away from the hordes of fans that might surround them in Los Angeles. This mix of Southern California relaxation with a dash of Hollywood glam is what makes Montecito such a great vacation destination, and nowhere else is that combination better exemplified than at beautiful Butterfly Beach, California.

Arroyo Burro County Beach Park

Santa Barbara is perhaps best known for its amazing beaches. These great locales, coupled with the unbeatable weather, make it the perfect place for beach fun! There is no better example of the great beach conditions throughout the Santa Barbara area than at Arroyo Burro County Beach Park. Here is what you should know about the beach.

East Beach in Santa Barbara

East Beach is one of the most famous areas throughout all of Santa Barbara. It is the beach that you will probably have seen if you have seen pictures of Santa Barbara because it is incredibly picturesque. No Santa Barbara vacation is complete without a day spent in this beautiful location. These are some of the coolest things about this one of a kind beach!

Family Attractions


The Sacred Space Summerland, CA Shopping

A trip to a local souvenir shop is a staple of any successful vacation. Who wouldn’t want a little reminder of their getaway to take home with them? However, an unexpected gem is tucked away in Summerland, California that truly takes the gift shop to the next level. The Sacred Space is more than just a place to pick up a trinket from your trip to the California coast, it is a spiritual experience.

Nojoqui Horse Ranch

For as far back as we can remember, horses have been an integral part of our lives and our ranch has been an integral part of the California community that we live in. Since 1896, our ancestors have awakened each day and stared out the window to the same sights we see today: acres of green meadows dotted with our four-legged friends chomping at the grass, with the majestic Santa Ynez mountains standing guard in the background. Today, these sights we share with you. Offering trail rides through 1500 acres of breathtaking landscape, riding lessons, and boarding and training for locals, the Nojoqui Horse Ranch is the place to get your “equine fix” in; their mission is to spread the love of the land and the horses they care for throughout the valley.

Coronado Butterfly Preserve

There’s a unique and fragile charm that’s connected with the butterfly, something that causes us to stop in our tracks and watch in awe as the colorful creatures flit from flower to flower. Signifying rebirth, renewal, and beauty in nature, the butterfly is the one insect that most people are thrilled to have land on their shoulders. Little girls especially love the butterfly, and if your daughter or son found out that you had been close to the this butterfly preserve in Santa Barbara and did not stop in, well, we think it’s safe to say they may be more than a tad annoyed with you!

Andree Clark the Santa Barbara Bird Refuge

The Andree Clark Bird Refuge was named after a young woman who passed away and is a sanctuary and park which welcomes visitors to come and relax and enjoy the beautiful natural atmosphere. Located between East Beach, the cemetery, the zoo, and the railroad tracks, this Santa Barbara bird refuge makes up 42 acres of wide open space and includes its own 29-acre lake.

Douglas Family Preserve Santa Barbara

If you’re looking for a little exercise on your Santa Barbara vacation or simply a place where you can savor some peace and quiet with a beautiful view, Douglas Family Preserve is the ideal solution. Whether you venture out solo, with the family, or with your dog, you will be on your way to discovering an undeveloped stretch of land that’s one of the city’s most desirable locations.

Historic Landmarks


Mission San Buenaventura – A Piece of History in Ventura

Like many cities in the state of California, Ventura was originally founded as the site of a Spanish mission. Although Native people had been living in the area for generations, the Spanish missionaries that came to the state and established missions are credited with colonizing California. They not only brought their religion with them, but they also brought their culture and their resources, setting the table for the prosperous state that California is today. The best way to appreciate and understand this early history is to visit these mission sites. In the city of Ventura, the Mission San Buenaventura still stands today, and is a great place to visit!

Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, CA

Part of the rich history of the state of California, Spanish missions are a testament to the colonization of the state and its early years. These missions tell the story of the founding of the state, and many remain today as historical sites. One of the most significant of these missions is the Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, CA. Founded in 1804, it was the last mission founded in Southern California, and continues to be an active Catholic church. Whether your visit to Santa Ines is a religious or a historical one, be sure to make this mission in Solvang a must visit during your trip!

Casa Del Herrero in Montecito

Santa Barbara is a place with an incredibly rich history. As such, there are many beautiful buildings that were built nearly a century ago that pay homage to this amazing history, drawing predominantly from Spanish influences. Casa Del Herrero in Montecito near Santa Barbara is one of the finest examples of the multitudes of these amazing structures.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse has been a fixture of the community since its completion in 1929. This Spanish Colonial Revival style building is still in use, but today it serves as more of a token of the amazing history of this city. People come from all over to enjoy this historic and beautiful place. Here are a few reasons why the courthouse has captivated all who have explored it throughout the years.

Casa de la Guerra Santa Barbara

There are so many sights and attractions around Santa Barbara that it can be difficult knowing which ones should definitely make your itinerary while you’re in town. Those who have a particular love for history won’t have any trouble finding it throughout the city. The former residence of José de la Guerra, the fifth commendant of the Presidio, is the perfect example of this. Casa de la Guerra is not only very accessible in its downtown location, but it’s also one of the best places to view a big part of the area’s past.

The Historic La Arcada Courtyard

Santa Barbara is an awesome destination for people of all budgets and interests. One of those interests that is always adequately satisfied with a trip to Santa Barbara is shopping. You will find countless venues in order to satisfy your shopping preferences. On such shopping district is the historic La Arcada Courtyard. This shopping area is the one that is constantly considered the most reflective of the culture in the city. Even if you aren’t planning on buying anything, exploring La Arcada is a uniquely Santa Barbara experience.

Santa Barbara Presidio

Traveling to Santa Barbara usually means spending quite a bit of time relaxing and soaking up the sun, playing in the surf, and sticking your toes in the sand. However, the California coastal town also has plenty of other attractions to offer its visitors, with some holding a very special place in history. Situated downtown on the 5.5-acre Santa Barbara State Historic Park, the Santa Barbara Presidio is the ideal example of a landmark that’s not to be missed.

Summerland Antique Collective – The Best of Santa Barbara Antiques

In addition to being a fabulous vacation destination for sun, surf, restaurants, and more, California is also a shopper’s paradise. Its variety of shopping opportunities, ranging from large departments stores to small, locally owned boutiques, mean that you can find practically anything you are looking for when you shop in California! For over 25 years, the Summerland Antique Collective has added to this rich reputation of California shopping by offering a high quality and wide variety of antique goods in the beautiful beachside town of Summerland. If you’re looking for antiques near Santa Barbara, you simply have to stop in on your next vacation!

Museums


The Historic Ojai Jail

As weird as this sounds, one of the best ways to learn the history of any town you may be visiting is to spend some time in jail! Of course, we aren’t trying to get you in trouble when we say this; we just mean a tour of the town’s first jail is fun, informative, and potentially creepy—many old jails are haunted by the ghosts of former tenants! Ojai Jail, which is currently located in the Cold Spring Canyon Tavern near Sana Barbara, CA was once an impenetrable fortress in the town of Ojai. Today, when you visit the tavern, you have an opportunity to experience what life in the “big house” used to be like!

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Santa Barbara and its surrounding region have much to offer its visitors when it comes to activities and attractions. From beautiful beaches and botanic gardens to museums and zoo animals, there is something for everyone. In order to get the full Santa Barbara experience during your vacation, there are a few different attractions that you definitely want to make sure are added to your itinerary. Whether you have a particular fondness for art or not, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, located in the city’s downtown area, will impress you with its displays and reflection of local life.

Santa Barbara Carriage Museum

Step into the past as never before at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum. It is the mission of this one of a kind museum to preserve modes of transportation that are important to our history. There is no effort spared in fulfilling this mission. Countless people have been amazed by the incredible examples of carriages at the museum since it’s opening in 1972.

Stow House Santa Barbara Railroad Museum

At the Stow House and Railroad Museum, you have an opportunity unlike never before to visit the early settlements of this area. It is often hard to wrap your head around the incredible history of this area; this one of a kind museum makes this feat easier than ever! The Stow House is found just a bit to the north of the center of Santa Barbara off of the 101. See the culture of this incredible city as never before at the Stow House and Railroad Museum!

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and lose sight of the amazing world that surrounds us. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is one of the best places that you will come across that offers the unique opportunity to slow down and be reminded of the beauty of our world. With a strong emphasis on the natural landscape and processes of the Santa Barbara area, there is so much to see and do here that will amaze you. You can find the museum just beyond Mission Santa Barbara along Mission Creek. Here are some of the most exciting things about this Santa Barbara natural history museum.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Santa Barbara is home to a rich maritime history. In its early days, it was the most significant port for shipping and importing on the central coast, so it only seems right to have a museum that celebrates this wonderful history. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is home to countless exhibits, historical artifacts, and educational opportunities. Here are a few reasons why you should consider stopping by the museum during your next Santa Barbara vacation.

Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum

If you have a passion of motorcycles and find yourself in Solvang, California, then there is no better place to spend the afternoon than in the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum! Although official museum hours state that they are open on the weekends from 11am to 5pm, this Solvang motorcycle museum is also available to tour during the week by appointment. Admission is just $10 for adults and is free for children under 10 years old. The whole family will enjoy exploring the collection at the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum!

Santa Barbara Historical Museum

No matter what your personal interests may be, you will find no shortage of things to do during your Santa Barbara getaway. Whether you’re shopping, surfing, wine tasting, or simply exploring the California beach town, you will want to make sure you take time out of your busy vacation schedule to check out some of the area’s rich history. What better place to do that then the Santa Barbara Historical Museum? The cultural landmark is well worth a visit regardless if you consider yourself a history buff or not.

Westmont Ridley-Tree Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Montecito, California is a beautiful coastal city that boasts perfect Southern California climate and stunning scenery which has attracted people to it for generations. In this quiet beachside city are a variety of amazing sites to visit, one of which is the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art. Any art lover, whether casual or devoted, will enjoy an afternoon walking through the current exhibition or attending a lecture. This museum is a great example of some of the best art that Montecito has to offer and is certainly a must-visit!

Elverhøj Museum of History & Art – Danish History in Solvang, California

Southern California is perhaps most known for its cultural influences from Spain and Latin America. However, tucked away in the town of Solvang is a testament to another rich cultural influence from an unexpected source: Denmark. The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art is a unique museum devoted to the contributions of Danish-Americans to the town of Solvang, and is one of the few museums outside of Denmark to celebrate Danish culture.

Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Solvang

The town of Solvang, California was founded in 1910 by a group of Danish immigrants. In the middle of a state which was mostly settled by the Spanish, this pocket of Scandinavian culture makes it a fun and unique town to explore. Many of the attractions in Solvang celebrate this uniqueness and highlight the contributions of Danish culture. Denmark’s most famous writer, Hans Christian Andersen, wrote many of the fairytales that are embedded in our popular culture today. The Hans Christian Andersen Museum is dedicated to the author’s life and legacy and is a great place to visit during your stay in Solvang.

Neighborhoods & Towns


Santa Barbara Harbor

The Santa Barbara Harbor is a great place to catch a stunning view, savor a delicious meal, and spend the day participating in different activities that include kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, exploring the Maritime Museum, and whale watching. The harbor provides a myriad of things to do, ensuring that everyone you’re with has a good time.

Stearns Wharf

Located on Santa Barbara’s waterfront at the end of State Street, Stearns Wharf is a favored spot for both locals and tourists. There are numerous restaurant and shopping options to browse through, as well as the chance to hop on a yacht cruise or take a water taxi to the Sea Center for a look at some of the ocean’s magnificent creatures. Strolling along the old wooden pier is free, and there is paid parking or street parking in close proximity.

The Cold Spring Canyon Bridge

Many of the best times in our lives have been the ones where we took unexpected detours and discovered something new, fascinating, and so wonderful, we end up excited about the journey, not just the destination. The Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge is not really a destination type of place; it’s the detour you take on your journey to other places. But if you miss out on seeing this majestic Santa Barbara bridge, you will probably regret it! Designed to make the trip from Santa Ynez Valley to Santa Barbara quicker and easier, it’s worth taking the time to drive down the old stagecoach trail and view it from below, and then you can drive over the bridge on the way back to your Paradise Retreats vacation rental!

Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

Another area of artsy fun is known as the Funk Zone. Santa Barbara’s art community is a large one that continues to grow larger each year, and this 10-block area is home to a variety of shops, galleries, restaurants, and wineries for your viewing and tasting pleasures! You can explore this region a hundred different times and come up with something new every single visit—it’s like magic! We at Paradise Retreats can often be found scrutinizing the shelves of our favorite gallery or enjoying a glass of wine with our meal at one of the many funky and delicious eateries that make their home in this region, and we recommend you try it too!

Santa Barbara’s Inspiration Point

Santa Barbara’s Inspiration Point is the goal to be attained at the end of a beautiful hike on a busy trail. The view from the top of the small peak you climb is awe-inspiring and worth the effort!

Santa Barbara’s Lake Cachuma

Santa Barbara is the place to be if you are an outdoor enthusiast. Beautiful beaches, access to the ocean, wonderful mountains, and rolling hills are just a few of the natural features that make this place so special. But many people do not realize that the area is home to the amazing Lake Cachuma. Because the Pacific Ocean is so close, Lake Cachuma, CA does not always get the attention that it deserves for being a magnificent lake.

Ventura Pier & Promenade

The city of Ventura, California may seem like just another quiet oceanside town along the West coast. However, Ventura is actually a vibrant place, full of passionate locals who are proud of their city. Nowhere is this pride more visible than at the centerpiece of Ventura, the Ventura Pier and Promenade. Here is where locals and visitors alike have gathered for over a hundred years to enjoy ocean breezes, favorable waves, and take in the best sights of the city!

Moreton Bay Fig Tree Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is known for countless attractions and opportunities for fun. One of the more unlikely of these attractions is a tree located close to the center of the city. It is the Moreton Bay Fig Tree that sits at the end of State Street. Locals and visitors have fell in love with this tree for decades; read on to find out why!

Paseo Nuevo Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is predominantly known for its amazing beaches and beautiful weather. But it is also known for its boundless opportunities for leisure. Among these opportunities, you will find shopping in more abundance than just about anywhere. From national chains to charming local spots, Santa Barbara has everything a shopping enthusiast could want. Paseo Nuevo Mall is home to some of the best shopping opportunities throughout all of Santa Barbara. Here is what you need to know about Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara before you pick your shopping spot.

Reagan Ranch Center

Lovingly dubbed “The Schoolhouse of Reaganism,” the Reagan Ranch Center is a celebration of the life of Ronald Reagan and all he stood for. You will find the Center in the middle of the excitement in Santa Barbara, set in the heart of Left Coast on the busiest street in the city. It has served as a place to gather and share ideas while also learning about the history of the ranch and the life of this amazing man.

State Street Santa Barbara Downtown

If you are looking for the most happening place in downtown Santa Barbara, CA, look no further than State Street! This one-mile stretch of road is where you will find the heartbeat of the city. Endless bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife opportunities characterize this area. It is a place where virtually everyone finds something that suits him or her.

The Waterfront in Santa Barbara

There is so much to love about Santa Barbara, between the beautiful landscapes, charming city streets, and great weather. But the waterfront is the main thing that keeps people coming back to this incredible area. From amazing harbors and piers to unbeatable sandy beaches, the waterfront in Santa Barbara has a little bit of everything for everyone. These are some of the things to love about the waterfront.

Ty Warner Sea Center

Santa Barbara is home to an endless array of fun, excitement, and education. While the first two are well known, the educational opportunities throughout the city often go unacknowledged. The Ty Warner Sea Center is one of those places that offers unsurpassed educational opportunities in a fun environment. After a visit to this amazing place, you are sure to have a renewed passion for the natural world.

Parks & Gardens


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

This will be the 90th year that the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will wow locals and visitors alike with its spectacular plants. The 78-acre botanic garden was inspired in 1926 by the beautiful plants that are found around Santa Barbara naturally. It has been an incredible way to appreciate the nature of the area all in one place since its original inception.

Parma Park Santa Barbara

Beaches aren’t the only thing Santa Barbara is known for. It’s a city rich in history and charm, and much of that can be found in the city’s many parks. Parma Park, in particular, is a popular spot if you’re looking to hang out in nature for a while during your California getaway. The park is 200 acres of open space made up of a combination of grasslands and oak woodland, sitting in the hills above the American Riviera region of the coastal town. Read on for more information about Parma Park in Santa Barbara CA!

Shoreline Park

While you visit Santa Barbara, be sure to check out some of the city’s well-known parks for lots of outdoor activity opportunities. One of the more favorable parks in Santa Barbara is Shoreline Park. This scenic ocean-side park has lots of amazing views from pretty much any angle and stop along the way. Some of the views include those of the nearby mountains, of the harbor beyond, and of the islands.

LotusLand: Santa Barbara’s Best Botanical Garden

The Lobero Theatre has been a grand presence in the city of Santa Barbara since 1873 and many have enjoyed unforgettable performances by the many professional actors who have graced its stage. As California’s oldest continuously operating theatre, the Lobero has naturally undergone renovations over the years, but it’s never been closed and the entertainment has never stopped.

Alameda Park Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara’s beaches aren’t the only place where visitors can enjoy the warm sunshine and pleasant weather. As one of the city’s greatest outdoor attractions, Alameda Park in Santa Barbara is an ideal place for your whole family to relax and spend quality time together.

All About Gaviota State Park

The California lifestyle involves spending a great deal of time outside. When you have weather as great as ours, how could you not want to be outside basking in it as much as possible? And with Gaviota State Park basically located right next door, it should be no big surprise that a great deal of our outdoor time is spent exploring, playing, and enjoying the beauty of this special place. Hiking, biking, surfing, fishing and scuba diving, Gaviota State Park is the place to visit when you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of real life!

Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens

The Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens have been inspiring thousands of individuals since its dedication in 1980. It is among the most amazing experiences in the Santa Barbara area, thrusting you into the city’s incredible environment. It brings to light the incredible nature of the world that we live in. Nature is forgotten more often than not throughout our busy lives; get back to nature and wonder with a trip to this amazing collection of gardens.

Serra Cross Park in Ventura

Southern California has a rich history to go along with the stunning scenery and perfect weather. The settlement of the state can mostly be attributed to the establishment of Spanish missions, as they brought their resources along with their religion to the area. A testament to this mission history lies in Serra Cross Park in Ventura, California. Those looking for a slice of history to go with a fun afternoon in a beautiful park will certainly want to make Serra Park a must-visit on your next trip to Ventura!

Ventura Botanical Gardens

When visiting a beachside city in Southern California, such as Ventura, you know that the ocean views will be wonderful, the weather will be nearly perfect, and there will be an abundance of shops and restaurants to peruse. However, the city of Ventura has recently added another attraction that takes them above and beyond the other cities in the area. The Ventura Botanical Gardens is a recent addition to the city, but it is already becoming one of the best places to visit!

When you think of Santa Barbara, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If it’s surf, sun, and sand, you’re certainly not alone. Most importantly, the beaches are definitely beautiful and a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Furthermore, the California coastal town also has unlimited outdoor recreation, an eclectic wine country, a vivid arts scene, and more. In other words, it’s the perfect combination of big city entertainment with a laidback beach town vibe. Consequently, this has made the area a top travel destination with families and people of all ages. With all of Santa Barbara’s tourist attractions, you will be able to create just the vacation experience you desire. Moreover, if you could use some help planning your itinerary, check out some of the top attractions in Santa Barbara.