Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara guide, attractions and pictures

Santa Barbara is a unique city in Southern California founded in 1782 as a Spanish Garrison. Its close proximity to Los Angeles (100 miles - 160 km) makes it a nice day trip if you are staying in L.A. Santa Barbara is beautiful and affluent, with hilly areas, stone terraces, gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, and a mix of retirement communities and student population. The city has Spanish- Mediterranean architecture and the center was completely rebuilt in 1925 following an earthquake. Santa Ynez Mountains are very close to the city and are a nice getaway and a picturesque backdrop to Santa Barbara. The city boasts distinctive cultural influences and architectural styles, active nightlife, top-notch shopping venues, and five institutions of higher education. Situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara is well-connected with the major metropolitan areas. Amtrak offers coach and train services to San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles, and Greyhound runs daily bus services to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In the 19th century Santa Barbara was a small town with only a couple of hundred families; today it is a major tourist attraction and has large student population - there are 9 colleges and universities in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara’s main street “State Street” has a pedestrian zone. The street is lined with inviting cafes, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Paseo Nuevo is a colorful outdoor shopping mall. The stores have beautiful facades and fountains and palm trees decorate the passages.

The County Courthouse in Santa Barbara is one of the most remarkable buildings in the city. It was built in 1929 and is beautifully decorated with wrought iron and tiles. The clock tower offers splendid views over the city.
Santa Barbara Courthouse California
The Santa Barbara Mission is one of the most visited missions in California. It was founded in 1786 – four years after the Spanish Garrison. The church that we see today was built in 1833 and was designed by Padre Antonio Ripoll. The previous buildings were destroyed by an earthquake. The church is a mix of Roman and Spanish styles and has twin towers. The interior is Neo-Classical with carved wooden statues.

The “Sacred Gardens” in the courtyard are beautifully landscaped with palm trees and central fountain. The kitchen and the missionary bedrooms were restored to show the 1800s living conditions.

The entertainment zone of Santa Barbara is found on Lower State St, with two bars to check – EOS Lounge and James Joyce. There are plenty of local attractions to visit as well, including, the Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, and Nojoqui Falls County Park. The Santa Barbara Zoo is a fantastic little zoo where families can let the children run. There is a dinosaur show, well-kept lawns, a children’s playground, and exotic species. Lotusland is a local attraction and a botanic garden that includes a topiary, a cactus garden, a butterfly garden, and exotic plants. The tour around the garden lasts about 3 hours. Other wildlife areas around Santa Barbara include Chase Palm Park and the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate, featuring a variety of orchid species.

Lobero Theatre is the oldest theatre in California, established in 1873. It is the home stage to a number of local performing art groups such as Music Academy of the West, State Street Ballet, and the Flamenco Arts Festival. The Lobero Live is a major event that brings touring artists together, performing in different genres – bluegrass, blues, jazz, and folk. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum features educational programs and exhibits, including mock-ups of different boats, trading vessels, and more. Nojoqui Falls County Park has a great terrain for easy hikes and pleasant walks. Tourists enjoy crystal clear waterfalls, many picnic tables, and the fresh air. Founded as a stagecoach shop, the Cold Spring Tavern is another local attraction. The tavern offers kangaroo, rabbit, duck, venison, and steak and is a great place where tourists can rest.

Santa Barbara California
Casa del Herrero was built by F. Underhill, L. Forest, and G. Smith and is a brilliant example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. All rooms are decorated with original furniture and architectural details, and the garden consists of several rooms, each featuring a different landscape of cascades, pools, and benches. Tours are offered from mid-February to mid-November. Photos are not allowed in the house, and it is recommended to make advance reservations. Note that the tour is long. Other local attractions include Hastings Adobe, the Burton Mound, El Paseo Shopping Mall, and Ty Warner Sea Center, which is a good place for families with children. Visitors can participate in oceanographic experiments and find out about the species native to the area. There are games for the children and a variety of exhibits to see and learn about.

The area offers a variety of accommodation options, from budget hotels to properties that boast flawless service and luxurious, well-appointed guestrooms. Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a top-end resort with plenty of recreational amenities, including a putting green, walking tours, an outdoor pool, and tennis courts. The rooms are immaculate, with views of the ocean or the gardens. Room rates range from $467 to $913. Inn of the Spanish Garden is a boutique hotel with spacious guestrooms, a fountain courtyard, and beautifully designed gardens. All public areas are air-conditioned, and there are parking spaces. Room rates start at $259. Those who are looking for midrange options can check Agave Inn, with rates ranging from $109 to $212. Found close to Santa Barbara City College, the property offers cozy, clean rooms, but breakfast is basic. The hotel is 2.5 miles from the city centre, shops, and restaurants.

The Sandman Inn is another midrange hotel close to the city centre and some of the popular beaches. The guestrooms feature pleasant colors and attractive furnishings. There is an indoor swimming pool, a spa tub, and fitness facilities. Room rates start at $101. The Upham is a nice traditional hotel that offers luxurious cottages and suites and comfortable and spacious guestrooms. Room rates range from $201 to $292.

Santa Barbara California
Santa Barbara, California, Old Town

There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars for a great holiday. Tourists can choose from steakhouses, vegetarian, sushi, Mexican and Italian restaurants, pizza places, and others. Downey’s is a nice restaurant featuring fabulous food and great service. The menu includes Farmers' Market Salad Greens, Grilled Duck with Cabernet Sauce, Roasted Garlic and Shiitakes, and more. Jane is another restaurant to have a delicious lunch or dinner. Guests can try grilled fillet mignon, fish and chips, grilled chicken breast, or anything else on the menu. There are salad and pasta bowls to choose from, along with burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant offers lunch and dinner menus and boasts friendly service. Those who like Mexican food can visit Los Agaves. The restaurant offers authentic Mexican food and reasonable prices. The portions are generous, and all meals are prepared using fresh ingredients. Pizza lovers can try Olio Pizzeria which offers Italian food, including cheeses, garlic bread, and gourmet meats. The menu features sanguinello salad, prosciutto and arugula pizza, and homemade pizzas, served with a dressing and green salad. The staff is attentive, and the pizzas are delicious and with generous toppings.

Adama Vegan Comfort Cuisine is a great choice for people who love vegan food. The menu includes salads, sandwiches, soups, and pizzas. Guests can choose from garden sandwich, Gardein Piccata, Mezza Platter, lasagna, and more. Arigato Sushi offers Japanese food, and prices range from $10 to $30. The meals are excellent quality, and the menu includes jalepeno yellow tail roll, shitake mushrooms, and California rolls. There is a large variety of rolls to suit every taste.

Santa Barbara Mission California
Santa Barbara Mission

Where is Santa Barbara Mission: 2201 Laguna St.

Opening hours: Daily 9AM-5PM

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