Red-tiled roofs, warm-colored plaster walls, arched facades and enclosed garden courtyards with wrought iron embellishments characterize the local architecture and fill the views.
In the early 1900s, Santa Barbara was the film capital of the world. More than 1,200 movies were made here in a 10-year span, and the town was a favorite spot for legendary film stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Today's stars still take a Santa Barbara vacation as an easy getaway, and so can you.
Santa Barbara Vacation Preview: See It Now: Photo Tour
Why Should You Vacation in Santa Barbara?If you're planning a Santa Barbara vacation, these points may help you decide if it's the right place for you.
- Families enjoy walking or biking along the waterfront, going to the beach and visiting the Ty Warner Sea Center.
- History-lovers will find that Santa Barbara is one of California's oldest cities, with its Spanish mission and military Presidio still standing.
- For those who like to shop, State Street is one of the state's great shopping streets, with lots of local boutiques and the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center.
Things to Do on Your Santa Barbara VacationRead about the best things to do or browse a list of everything the town has to offer.
Where to Stay on Your Santa Barbara VacationIf you plan to spend the night, MAKE RESERVATIONS and make them far in advance. Demand routinely outstrips supply here.
For many people, the default location for a Santa Barbara vacation hotel is along the waterfront. None of the hotels here are directly on the water and the better restaurants are downtown, so consider a downtown property instead, such as the Inn of the Spanish Garden or the Simpson House Inn.
Where to Eat on Your Santa Barbara VacationYou'll find plenty of nice places to eat in Santa Barbara. Check out guide to Santa Barbara dining to learn about some of our favorites.
A bit further afield, Cold Springs Tavern, a virtually unchanged former stagecoach stop is a short scenic drive out of Santa Barbara. Take CA 154 north toward the mountains. When the road begins to level off, watch carefully for a small sign on the right site of the road. If you cross the beautiful San Marcos Bridge, you've gone just a little too far. While the tavern hasn't changed much, its clientele have. You'll find everyone here from bikers to stock brokers.
The award-winning Four Seasons Biltmore hosts a lavish Sunday brunch, or visit San Ysidro Ranch, where John and Jacqueline Kennedy honeymooned. For a more local experience try the Brown Pelican at Arroyo Burro Beach.
Events for Your Santa Barbara VacationYou may want to plan your Santa Barbara vacation to attend a special event. Some of the most popular annual events include the annual film festival and the National Horse Show. Check our list for information about them and more.
Best Time to Take a Santa Barbara VacationThe best time for a Santa Barbara vacation is most any time. Weather is moderate for most of the year, but it is slightly more likely to rain in winter and it's more likely to be hazy in summer.
Side Trips and Nearby Towns
- Ventura is the jumping-off spot for trips to the Channel Islands, but it also has a nice harbor and charming downtown.
- Santa Ynez Valley and Solvang: Solvang offers Danish-style ambiance and a nice downtown full of shops of every kind and the surrounding valley is a a great place for a drive.
- Channel Islands National Park encompasses the islands you'll see offshore. They're each unique and home to many species found nowhere else.