Recommended Itineraries

Looking for more ideas? Check out day trips from Santa Barbara.

Itinerary #1: Classic Santa Barbara — 3 days

Day One:
Arrive in Santa Barbara in the afternoon, then head out to the wharf for a relaxing dinner cruise with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center. Partake of a casual buffet-style meal while your catamaran cruises the coastline. Choose from alternating themed menus of a Mexican Cantina or Italian Riviera. Lazily observe the sun sinking slowly into the water as you return to port. Walk the Historic Downtown Santa Barbara to soak up the nightlife and to enjoy a cocktail or two.

Day Two:
Start your morning with a visit to Santa Barbara Mission. Then grab a picnic basket and head over to Alice Keck Park to lounge in the shade and enjoy the koi pond, gazebo, and the leafy neighborhood. Afterward, head towards downtown proper to visit the Historic Casa Grande, with its red tiled roofs and white washed buildings.

Linger downtown the whole afternoon. Take in the art museum and historical museums. Go shopping or people watching in Paseo Nuevo. When you’re tired, just board the trolley and watch the world go by. End the day in one of the many restaurants that line the beach.

Day Three:
Time to hit the beach. Visit the Sea Center at Stearns Wharf, with its fascinating touch pools and exhibitions. Enjoy a seaside arts and crafts fair (Sundays only). Walk on down to the harbor to view enormous yachts and authentic fishing boats and turn around at Leadbetter Beach. Head down to Butterfly Beach and grab a lunch from The Brown Pelican. Afterward, take a leisurely drive around Montecito — the playground of the rich and the famous. Keep heading south on US 101 towards Carpenteria, a small, lazy sea-side town with a cute downtown, and a nice beach. Have dinner there and drive back to Santa Barbara.

Itinerary #2: Active Lifestyle — 2 days

Day One:
Start you day with a hike up a mountain. Choose from our recommended hikes in Santa Barbara mountains. Or, just 15 minutes from downtown, Rattlesnake Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the city and can be done in a couple of hours. The shady 3.5-mile roundtrip hike has a gradual 900-foot elevation gain. Afterward, grab a light lunch at one of the many cafes lining State Street in Historic Santa Barbara Downtown and head to the beach. Rent a kayak and paddle around the Bay. If you still have any energy left, a stroll down the pretty East Beach will lead you pass a skate park and volleyball courts.

Day Two:
Visit Stearns Wharf, and explore the beachfront there. You can rent a bike and ride along the beach on Cabrillo Boulevard, passing East Beach, West Beach, and Leadbetter Beach. Leadbetter Beach makes for a great picnic spot, so take a picnic bag if you can. Take the afternoon whale watching tour between shore and the Channel Islands. You might see greys, blues, humpbacks or the rare Minke whale, depending on the season.

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