Santa Barbara is where Dalla Vita is located, and where we live, so naturally we can’t say enough good things about this beautiful town! While there aren’t many places where you can experience mountain views, beautiful beaches, and 70-80 degree weather year round, somehow this city also happens to be filled with great restaurants, fun activities, and awesome people too – making it the ultimate vacation destination for all interests and ages! So whether you’re just visiting for the day, a weekend, or decide to stay for a few months … we hope this guide of all our favorite places to see, eat, and stay helps you experience the best of what Santa Barbara has to offer!
See and Do
Revered as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by many locals in Santa Barbara and home to the Four Seasons, of course, is Butterfly Beach. It is a great place to take in a sunset or spend an afternoon lounging in the sun.
Franceschi Park is a hidden spot up in the Riviera section and is a great place to see Downtown Santa Barbara from an elevated perspective. They have a few benches and picnic tables if you care to hang out for a bit, which isn’t hard to do.
Believe it or not, many people seek out the Santa Barbara Courthouse just to take pictures in front of it. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and the architecture of the expansive property is breathtaking. The Courthouse also has a lookout tower which is open to the public and is a great place to see downtown Santa Barbara from above. In addition to it’s many features, this landmark also hosts an awesome summer outdoor film series every summer in the Sunken Garden, which is a favorite activity amongst SB locals … but be sure to arrive early to put down your blanket and secure your spot!
Located at the bottom of State Street is where you will find Stearn’s Wharf. This pier is a great way to get out in the water in Santa Barbara without even getting wet! You can find free 75 minute parking (a common courtesy among many Santa Barbara parking lots), seafood restaurants, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, and some pretty stellar views.
“Stop and Enjoy the Funk” is the motto of this hip Santa Barbara area. The Funk Zone is a great place to sip on some wine, beer, have a good bite to eat, and explore the artisan shops.
The Santa Barbara Mission was established in 1786 and continues to be a significant landmark to this city more than 200 years later. The property is landscaped with beautiful succulents and is also home to one of the prettiest Rose Gardens. We’d recommend doing an afternoon picnic here.
Another historical landmark to this city and an integral part of the Santa Barbara Film Festival every year, is the Arlington theatre. This theater has one of the most unique interiors, as it is modeled after a Spanish village and there is even a night sky on the ceiling. You can take in a concert or a movie here depending on the current lineup, both equally great Santa Barbara experiences.
Lotusland is the masterpiece of Ganna Walska, a polish opera singer with a avid love for gardening. Guided tours take you throughout the 37 acres property that has been transformed into some of the most beautifully theme gardens. Anyone that enjoys a good story or an amazing botanical experience, will have a good time here.
East Beach is located right along the shoreline and is one of Santa Barbara’s most popular beaches. Flanked with Palm tree’s and green grass, this piece of paradise is where you’ll find many people walking, biking, or just enjoying the sweet ocean breezes.
There’s nothing like taking in a new movie from the comfort of your own car! The West Wind Drive In is the place to be on a Saturday night, curled up watching the big screen with a few your favorite peeps.
Perched in the Riviera Section of Santa Barbara, overlooking the city and harbor, is where you’ll find the Santa Barbara Bowl. This venue is one of the best places to see a concert, arguably in the U.S. due to it’s coziness and relaxed vibe.
Hendry’s is one of the only places in Santa Barbara where you can enjoy the Santa Barbara coastline and even dine right on the beach at the Boathouse. You’ll find convenient free parking, an off leash dog area, and a beautiful cliff lined shore here.
If you are looking for authentic Mexican cuisine, Los Agaves is our number one choice of places to dine.
Sakana is a hidden gym of a sushi spot tucked into the Santa Barbara town of Montecito along Coast Village Rd. They offer delicious and inventive rolls with unique sauces.
The Public Market is a communal culinary marketplace and is a great place to go if you’re not sure what type of food your in the mood for. As soon as you enter, the delicious smells invade your control system and your nose leads your body to what it’s craving.
Testing out acai bowls when visiting a new city is a must, right?! Well Backyard Bowls does not disappoint. They also have delicious smoothies and oatmeal bowls, if you’re not an acai fan.
If you’re looking for a coffee shop with an ambient vibe and chilled attitude, Handlebar Coffee is your place. With two locations, a good cup of joe is only ever a few minutes away.
Juice Ranch is Santa Barbara’s locally owned organic, cold pressed juice bar. In need of a mid-afternoon pick me up? Head in to one of their shops to pick up one of their refreshing creations.
Modern and sleek are two words you can use to describe Dune Coffee Roasters. They roast their own coffee right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara and you can taste it!
Sama Sama features mouth-watering Southeast Asian inspired dishes and it is situated on State street right next to the Granada theater. Their menu is farm-to-fork and they are always pushing the boundaries with unique cuisine creations.
Mesa Verde is the go to upscale vegan spot in Santa Barbara. Their menu features many organic and gluten free options.
If wine is what your yearning for, Wine Therapy is just the treatment you need. Located along State Street, right across from Paseo Nuevo shopping mall is where you’ll find this spot to relax with a nice glass of wine.
The ultimate place to grab yourself a pint in Santa Barbara is Lama dog, a tap room in the heart of the Funk Zone. Some of the best features about this bar are that it is Dog friendly and also has a cafe on premise, so you can eat, drink, and hang out with some pups!
Situated next to Handlebar Coffee on De La Vina Street lies Jake and Jones, a new and fresh boutique to the Santa Barbara shopping scene. With a refined aesthetic, it’s pretty easy to pick up a few new pieces to add to your wardrobe here.
Whiskey and Leather is a cute, little boutique on Coast Village Road in Montecito for “eclectic living”. They have clothing for men as well as women and also have an artisan home decor section too.
Not many places exist like the Sacred Space. As soon as you enter the door, you are welcomed with a sense of calm. While they’re are many beautiful crystals, Buddha statues, art, and jewelry available for purchase, there is never any pressure to make a purchase while you are there. In fact, they actually welcome visitors to just explore their tranquil gardens and have tea in one of their pavilions.
Held in a different place every day of the week, the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market is where you want to go for fresh fruits and vegetables. Even if you’re not in need of produce, it is still an entertaining venue to peruse.
In the Funk Zone, you find the Waterline, a shared space of artisans. You can take a look at the shops, have a beer at neighboring Topa Topa, Lama Dog, and even have a bite to eat at the Nook – all without ever leaving the building.
This hip, young, plant filled boutique in the Funk Zone will take your style up a notch, no doubt!
Did someone say views?! Because The Belmond El Ecanto has them. Perched in the Santa Barbara Riviera overlooking the city. Having recently just gone through a $134 million dollar renovation, this hotel falls nothing short of lovely. The dining terrace was a favorite place to eat by famed chef Julia Child and it’s easy to tell why.
Situated right along Butterfly Beach is the Four Seasons Resort. The grounds of this hotel are so well manicured and taken care of, it transports you to a place of tropical paradise! When you stay here, you also get access to the exclusive Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club which overlooks the ocean and has a gorgeous pool.
A few miles past downtown Santa Barbara is where you will find the Ritz Carlton Bacara Resort. This property features lush grounds, beach access, numerous pools, a spa, and much more to make you feel right at home.
The Hotel Californian is located on State Street near the Funk Zone and the Wharf. If you are looking to be right in the heart of the Santa Barbara action, this is where to be if you want to be. This hotel exudes 5 star style with its modern decor and luxurious accommodations.
The Kimpton Goodland expresses a hip and fun atmosphere. While more affordable than many of the other hotels in Santa Barbara, the experience you will have here will be as equally enjoyable.