10 Free Things To Do In Santa Barbara

The best things in life can be free. As if Santa Barbara has not been blessed enough with almost continuous sunshine, giving it the nickname “The American Riviera” – there are many free activities in Santa Barbara to enjoy for the whole family.

Some of our favorite free things to do in Santa Barbara are listed below.

1. Have a picnic at Alice Keck Garden

One of the most beautiful spot in Santa Barbara, Alicia Keck Garden is perfect for a picnic or a stroll in the evening. Koi garden, gazebo, and a supportive community that tends the surrounding garden makes this place truly worth a visit.

2. Explore the Santa Barbara Courthouse

santa barbara courthouse

by Trader Chris

Visit the Santa Barbara Courthouse for its architecture and beautifully manicured garden.

3. Check out Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Learn more about the history of Santa Barbara and the Chumash Indians, pre-Spanish tribe who occupied this area.

4. Go for a hike around Santa Barbara Mountain.

Hiking around Santa Barbara mountain is free and the views are stunning. See our recommended hikes around Santa Barbara.

5. Night drive up a mountain for a night view of Santa Barbara

Drive up the mountains surrounding Santa Barbara in the evening and watch the fog rolling in from the ocean and a view of the city at night.

Looking for other things to do at night in Santa Barbara? Guide to Santa Barbara Nightlife scene

6. A drive around Montecito

Located 10 miles north of Santa Barbara, Montecito is the playground of the rich and the famous who have taken residence in Santa Barbara. Take a drive to gawk at the beautiful houses and gardens located in this area.

7. See the Chumash cave paintings

chumash cave painting

by dsearls

The paintings on the rock wall were made by the Chumash Indians about 1000 years old. Many of these are still held sacred and their sites are not made public. The only exception is the one located in Painted cave National park. See here for direction.

8. Sunday Arts and Crafts Show next to Stearn’s Wharf (every Sunday)

Every Sunday, the main road along East Beach is lined with stalls and booths selling home made arts and crafts by the local residence. Enjoy the view of the ocean while picking up a souvenir or two.

9. Farmer’s Market

Pick up some fresh produce, fruits, and flowers during Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market. 3 locations in Santa Barbara. Click here for a weekly schedule.

10. Take a bike ride along the beach

Pack your bikes (or rent them) and go on a bike ride along Cabrillo Boulevard that hugs the coastline. The route will take you past East Beach, West Beach, and Leadbetter Beach.

Related post:
- Other things to do in Santa Barbara
- The best beaches in Santa Barbara
- Day Trips from Santa Barbara
- Wine tasting

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