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Top Things to Do in Santa Barbara, California

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Sometimes I think there's not much to do in Santa Barbara and other times I think there's too much. These are some of the most popular and most interesting things I've found to do in Santa Barbara.

1. Stearns Wharf

One of the most visible features of the waterfront, the oldest working West Coast pier was once owned by Hollywood legend Jimmy Cagney and his brothers. It is home to restaurants, ice cream stands and a fish market. Don't miss the Ty Warner Sea Center.

2. Chase Palm Park

This long, narrow park hugs the waterfront with a palm-lined walking/riding path. Rent bicycles, pedal-powered surreys, windsurfers or kayaks at one of the nearby shops. On weekends, enjoy the arts and crafts festival.

3. Santa Barbara Mission

Often called the "Queen of the Missions" it's a few blocks inland from the State Street shopping area. Its classical-styled exterior was copied from an early architecture book. The interior is the most beautiful of the California missions.

4. State Street

Santa Barbara's main street is lined with shops and restaurants. Join the locals for a stroll down the street and some leisurely shopping at Paseo Nuevo. We particularly like the Random Store at 1207 State Street - that's really its name and it's full of all kinds of interesting stuff.

5. Red Tile Walking Tour

This self-guided walking tour covers some of Santa Barbara's oldest and most fascinating architectural landmarks.

6. Channel Islands National Park

Just offshore and beautifully unspoiled, these islands which have never been part of the mainland are California's version of the Galapagos.

7. Santa Barbara Zoo

It's a popular place to go, but we have reservations about the Santa Barbara Zoo. You should read our review and decide for yourself whether it's for you or not.

8. Polo Matches

Polo season runs from April through October, and anyone can watch.

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