Our laid-back beach town is designed for serendipitous occasions – trying out a new restaurant, spontaneous wine tasting or catching the perfect sunset… whatever it is, the less planning the better. But if you’re visiting California and only have a day to spend in Santa Barbara, it’s best to know where to go and why. This list will give you a taste of Santa Barbara and hopefully encourage you to come again and stay longer!
9am : Breakfast
Scarlett Begonia – Nestled in the beautiful Victoria Court courtyard, Scarlett Begonia serves organic, local, thoughtful food – housemade granola, lemon ricotta pancakes, rosemary farm eggs or shrimp and grits, to name a few… All meals are priced between $11 and $16, and the experience alone is worth the cost. One of Santa Barbara’s best!
11 West Victoria Street
Breakfast – 8am-2pm Tues-Sun
10am : Santa Barbara Mission
Take a drive up to the Queen of the Missions, the Santa Barbara Mission and tour the Sacred Garden, the Historic Cemetery, the Church and the museum. Self guided tours take approximately 30 minutes and cost $5 for adults.
2201 Laguna Street
Daily 9:00AM to 4:15PM
11am : Santa Barbara Courthouse
Built in 1929, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is beautifully decorated with grand arched ceilings, ornately tiled staircases and red tile rooftop. You can tour the working courthouse and also climb up to the top of the clock tower to see sweeping views of the city, mountains and ocean.
1100 Anacapa Street
8am-5pm M-F, 10am-4:30pm Sat & Sun
12pm : La Arcada
Down the street from the Courthouse is La Arcada, tucked away off of State Street and full of charming shops, art galleries and sidewalk cafes with exceptional food. The turtle-filled fountains, lifelike sculptures and tile-lined sidewalks make La Arcada an enchanting place to visit.
1114 State St
1pm : Lunch
Santa Barbara is full of so many incredible restaurants that singling out one for lunch is nearly impossible. We like the Boathouse at Arroyo Burro Beach for it’s location right on the beach, Brophy Bros. for the local seafood and mountain views across the marina, or you can check out La Super Rica if you want to see what all the fuss is about.
2:30pm : Stearn’s Wharf
The wharf is super touristy, but still holds some charm at the very end where you can look back at our fair city, or stop in at the Ty Warner Sea Center and pet some sharks or starfish in the touch tanks.
211 Stearns Wharf
3:30pm : The Funk Zone
You can’t come to Santa Barbara and not sample the local wine. You can’t! The funk zone is the latest must-see spot in Santa Barbara, featuring all of the best local wines Santa Barbara has to offer. There’s even a new Corks n’ Crowns there that offers beer flights for anyone in your party who might already be wined out.
32 Anacapa St.
6pm : Lite Bites
Now it’s time to soak up some of that wine with a couple appetizers at Arch Rock Fish or Intermezzo… Arch Rock has a $13 lobster tail & $4 tater tots, or Intermezzo has flat breads, steak bites, sweet potato fries and more that are all sure to satisfy. In the winter Intermezzo has a cozy fireplace to warm up after the sun sets, or cold and delicious drinks to cool down in the summer.
819 Anacapa St
M-F: 4pm-11pm, Sat: 12pm-11pm, Sun: Closed
8pm : Dinner
Sample the local sea urchin with some uni nigiri at Arigato, devour a Pug Burger at Hungry Cat or check out Ca Dario’s new pizzeria on Victoria Street… all of the dinner dining options in Santa Barbara are outstanding, you really can’t go wrong.
10pm : Hit the Hay
If you’re paying premium prices to stay in one of the many chic Santa Barbara hotels, you might as well spend a little time there! Whether you go big and stay at the Biltmore Four Season’s Resort or go funky and stay at Hotel Indigo on lower State Street, you’ll be sure to get a good night’s sleep in our quiet little city.
Let us know your favorite Santa Barbara spots in the comments!
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