Once you’ve spent even a moment in Santa Barbara, you’ll understand the appeal. It’s not just about the beautiful weather, although that captures your attention immediately. There’s a certain calm and solitude euphoria that envelops you as soon as you enter the famed coastal city. Often known as the “American Riviera,” the scenic destination is at once historic and elegant, quaint and lively, cool and eclectic. It’s a city with flavor, offering countless activities and beautiful hallmarks that are worth a visit if you happen to be around. Here are five of the many reasons to visit Santa Barbara.
1. Visit Summerland Lookout Park
A part of the Santa Barbara County park system, Lookout Park faces the beach in Summerland. Situated on a bluff, it’s an exquisite spot to take in the views from a more serene vantage point. There are plenty of the usual park amenities, including picnic tables, benches, lawn space, and a volleyball court, but it’s the sandy beach below and the mesmerizing views that capture your attention right away. It’s an ideal spot to visit if you’re with kids, as the park features a cute playground packed with dinosaur amusements, winding slides, and swings for little ones of all ages. Feel free to stop and snap a few photographs as you make your way to the sand below — there are plenty of colorful blossoms along the way!
2. Book a Wellness Getaway
If you really need to get away from it all, it’s worth a visit to the luxury spa at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. Overlooking the serene waters of the Pacific, the mesmerizing resort features an incredible wellness center where guests and visitors can book a variety of indulgent treatments. Try a rooftop massage as the sun beats down on your skin, or ask about a sensory aromatherapy treatment to soothe your senses and calm your mind. You can even stop by for a post-massage bite at the chic on-site bistro, which features an oceanfront terrace where you can enjoy your meal in complete peace.
3. Check out Stearns Wharf
There’s a reason so many tourists flock to Stearns Wharf — in fact, it’s one of the many reasons to visit Santa Barbara! It’s a wildly enjoyable spot that’s served as an area institution since its inception in 1872. There’s plenty to do here, no matter what your preference. You can take to the open water and enjoy a sunset cruise aboard a yacht. Enjoy a hearty seafood meal on the harbor. Or pay a visit to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, where interactive exhibits provide guests with a chance to delve deep into what makes the area’s marine life so enigmatic and special. The kids can play scientist for a day — and you won’t want to miss the life-size gray whale replicas on display, either.
4. Explore the Old Mission
For all of its lavish modern establishments and beautiful surroundings, there’s real history in Santa Barbara — and it’s fascinating. One of the best places to learn more is at the Old Mission Santa Barbara, marked by the iconic double bell towers set in a soft blush-clay tone. You’ll glimpse the San Ynez mountains as they rise majestically in the background, but odds are you’ll be mesmerized by what awaits you here: genuine artwork from the 17th century; old-world artifacts; meticulous architecture; and vibrant gardens are just a few of the sights you don’t want to miss. Naturally, the building also provides incredible views of the city from its amazing vantage point. Do bear in mind that the church is active, so if this is your key reason to visit Santa Barbara, give them a call beforehand in case you need to make other arrangements while you wait. You can always contact the church in advance to make sure there’s availability.
5. Explore Casa del Herrero
Casa del Herrero, or the House of the Blacksmith, is simply architectural grandeur at its finest. If you go to see only one example of such incredibly handiwork in the city, make it this 11-acre estate. Designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is surrounded by lavish gardens that would also make great photographic backdrops for your vacation album. There’s much to see, which you can enjoy during an epic 90-minute tour of the house and grounds. The exquisite courtyard serves as the introduction to the property, but it’s the old-world artwork and beautifully maintained interior that will stay with you forever.
Getting away from it all is easy when you book a bus trip to Santa Barbara. This coastal getaway offers sunshine, good times, and something exciting to do year-round!