Visitors who want to experience a real taste of California should check out Santa Barbara. The city was the first Spanish landing point and is home to many of the state’s oldest historical attractions. The area’s vibrant nightlife can be found in a variety of different places.
Whether you’re looking to sample some fresh seafood and watch a live band, you can find something to please every palate. One of the best ways to see the sights of Santa Barbara is by taking a trolley tour.
This tour takes you around the major sights of the city and also includes stops at the Lotusland, considered to be the most beautiful garden in the world. You can easily reach Lotusland from downtown Santa Barbara. The trolley will take you on a 90-minute tour of the area.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy the Old Mission Santa Barbara, one of the oldest missions in California. This historic site was built by Spanish Franciscans in the early 1700s and features a museum full of artifacts, memorabilia, and historic photos.
There is also a nature trail along Mission Creek, where you can see a variety of animals. While you’re in Santa Barbara, don’t forget to visit State Street, which is considered the heart of the city.
Designed to resemble a European-style outdoor market, this area attracts a wide variety of tourists and locals. A shuttle runs from multiple locations in the city to the State Street Promenade. During late afternoon and early evenings, the street comes to life with live music, art exhibits, galleries, and other events.
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Mission Santa Barbara #1
The Spanish Mission Santa Barbara is a historic Spanish mission in Santa Barbara, California. It is commonly called the “Queen of the Missions.” It was founded in 1786 by Padre Fermn Lasuén for the Franciscan order and was the tenth of 21 missions in Alta California.
The mission began with a small adobe structure. By 1793, it had expanded to bigger structures. In 1798, it built an “Indian village” for more than 1,700 Indians to be baptized. The mission expanded again in the 1810s and 1820. The mission survived an earthquake in 1925, but it suffered substantial damage.
Mission Santa Barbara was founded by Father Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, the successor of Junipero Serra, and is located 220 miles north of San Diego. It is a mile from the Pacific Ocean.
It was named for Saint Barbara, an early Roman maiden who was killed for her faith. The mission is also located near the Santa Barbara Channel, named for Saint Barbara. The mission is easily accessible by car from the 101 Freeway, with ample parking.
While the interior of the mission is stunning, visitors can also enjoy the exterior, which is my favorite part. There is a grassy area in front with a large cross in the center. In addition, the mission is home to four thousand Chumash Indians. It also has mausoleums of early Spanish families.
Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara #2
Stroll down the two-storied wooden Stearns Wharf and enjoy the view of the water. A variety of shops and restaurants are located here. You can also visit a small aquarium. Restaurants, shops, and an aquarium are all located on the water’s edge.
The old Wharf Trading Company is the largest general merchandise store on the wharf. You can also find beautiful seashells at Nature’s Own Gallery. The Mother Stearns Candy Company sells hundreds of different kinds of old-fashioned candies. And there are also several clothing stores on the wharf.
The Sunset Room offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. It is a great place to grab a snack, relax, and take pictures. The Sunset Room offers happy hour specials from 4pm to 6pm.
A few of the other restaurants on the wharf include Longboard’s Grill and Harbor Restaurant. There are also wine tasting rooms and fish and chip restaurants. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is another great spot to visit. Besides learning about the marine mammals on land, you can visit a live model of a Gray Whale and her calf.
It is also a member of the White Abalone Restoration Consortium, a group working to bring this endangered marine snail back to life. Admission is free for Sea Center members. The wharf was once the center of commerce in the area. It was the hub of shipping, but the business had declined over the years.
By the late 1800s, less than half of the wharf was used for commercial purposes. However, three fishing companies continued to operate from there. Despite the decline of the wharf as a commercial shipping center, it continued to host a variety of businesses, including a restaurant and a yacht club.
The Santa Barbara Zoo #3
Located on 30 acres near the beach in Santa Barbara, California, the Santa Barbara Zoo is one of the best small zoos in the nation. The zoo has received a number of awards, including being named one of the nation’s top small zoos. With over 3,000 species of animals, this zoo is sure to excite and educate visitors.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is just a short drive from State Street and has more than 140 species on display. Its exhibits mimic the natural environment of these animals, making the experience both educational and entertaining for families.
Whether you are looking for an indoor or outdoor activity, the Santa Barbara Zoo has something for everyone. The zoo’s permanent residents include leopards, gorillas, penguins, and anteaters.
However, the most popular animals at the zoo include the endangered Amur leopard and the native California condor. Visitors often compliment the zoo’s variety of animals and the opportunity to interact with them. They also praise the zoo’s play area and barnyard, and its manageable size.
The Santa Barbara Zoo recently welcomed a new addition to its animal population: a blue-crowned pigeon chick. The sire and mother were transferred to the zoo in late May and were introduced to their new family, Helga.
The couple have been nesting at the zoo during the summer. Though the chick was born without feathers, it has already developed a mini crest like her parents. The mother and sire will continue to regurgitate food to feed the chick, and the chick has been able to acclimate quickly.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art #4
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located in downtown Santa Barbara, California. It has an excellent collection of paintings and sculptures by renowned artists. The museum also offers a number of interactive programs and special events. Admission is free.
The museum is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. Its collection includes paintings by local artists as well as international masterpieces. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art was established in 1941.
It is a large, modern, and contemporary art museum with an extensive collection from around the world. From classical antiquities to contemporary installations, it features artwork from all eras and cultures. Visitors can view sculptures, paintings, photography, and works on paper.
The museum offers many activities for families. The museum is housed in a historic adobe building and features a courtyard. It also features a museum store and picnic areas. You can also tour the museum’s library, which houses manuscripts, maps, and books.
You can also take a guided tour of the museum on the third Sunday of the month. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art has three wings. The McCormick Wing is the oldest building and is home to the museum’s permanent collection.
Its halls feature fine dioramas of animals and their habitats. The museum also features halls dedicated to Chumash Indian art, marine life, and geology. It also features an active research program.
Paseo Nuevo & State Street in Santa Barbara #5
This open-air mall features several chain retailers, a movie theater and dining options. It is one of the most popular shopping centers in the area. The mall offers both local and international cuisine. Whether you’re shopping for groceries, clothing or electronics, there are many options for you.
Paseo Nuevo & State street is Santa Barbara’s premier shopping area. The outdoor mall is punctuated by fountains and potted palms. Nordstrom anchors the center, which is lined with boutiques and big-name chain stores. The mall is decorated beautifully during the holiday season.
Paseo Nuevo & State street is located in downtown Santa Barbara. The neighborhood features historic homes and new apartment buildings. Some of these buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
You can take a tour of these properties with advance reservations. If you have a budget, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the area. For a casual drink, head to Caje on State Street, which has a breathtaking location and signature coffee cocktails.
Another great place to hang out is Haley St. Caje, which has a nice ambiance and sometimes turns into a speakeasy. The area is also home to the popular Cabrillo Beach Bike Path, which runs along the shore for miles.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, which was completed in 1929, is another noteworthy location. This stunning building is an example of the Spanish-Colonial Revival style. It features ornate tilework and hand-painted ceilings. There’s also a Mural Room, which tells Santa Barbara’s rich history.
Lotusland, also known as the Ganna Walska Lotusland, is a non-profit botanical garden located near Santa Barbara, California. The estate is the former home of the famous Russian horticulturist Madame Ganna Walska. Today, Lotusland houses a diverse collection of exotic plants, flowers, and trees.
This garden is located just four miles east of downtown Santa Barbara and is open from mid-February to mid-November. Docent-led tours are offered on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Tours last one hour and can be reserved for an additional fee. Tickets cost $50 for adults and $25 for children ages three to 17.
Lotusland’s founder, Madame Ganna Walska, was an eccentric woman known for her extravagant wealth and love of art in all forms. Although she had a successful opera career, she later switched her focus and began a fragrance business instead.
Her lifelong passion for plants led her to develop Lotusland and to create a garden that showcases the diversity of plant life. The Ganna Walska Lotusland is now a nonprofit organization and recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful public gardens.
With over 34,000 individual plant specimens and a captivating history, Lotusland is a must-visit destination. Members can also enjoy member benefits such as discounted admission, access to special events, and discounts at the Lotusland Garden Shop. However, reservations are required at least three weeks in advance.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden #7
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a 78-acre botanical garden that features a wide variety of rare and indigenous plants. The garden is located in Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara, California. Visitors can find over 1,000 different plant species. They may also choose to view one of the many beautiful waterfalls.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is an incredible oasis in the heart of Santa Barbara. The gardens are home to native plants and the surrounding natural environment is reminiscent of the Santa Barbara coast.
It offers over 5 miles of easy-walking nature trails that meander through the gardens. There are even a few historic structures and a dam that was built in 1806 by Native Americans under the direction of mission padres. The garden is truly a living museum dedicated to the conservation of California native plants.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has over 1,000 species of native and rare plants. Visitors can enjoy tours that are free of charge. The garden also has a 3,000-volume library and 50,000-sample herbarium.
It is also involved in a mutually beneficial academic exchange with the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has developed some notable plants, such as Ceanothus ‘Far Horizons’ and Lupinus ‘Canyon Sunset’.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a privately-funded nonprofit organization, largely supported by dues paid by members, special gifts, and income from endowment funds. It is administered by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.
The Garden has been led by four directors during its fifty-year history. In addition to Dr. Ralph Philbrick, Dr. Maunsell Van Rensselaer served as director for fourteen years.
El Presidio De Santa Barbara State Historic Site #8
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Site is a former military installation located in Santa Barbara, California. It was built by the Spanish in 1782 to protect the Second Military District of California.
While the area has changed a great deal over the centuries, the historical site still maintains some of its military history. The park contains two original sections of the presidio, as well as reconstructed buildings. It also houses findings from archaeological excavations.
It is an oasis of history in the middle of the city’s bustling downtown. This little piece of history preserves California’s past and provides a glimpse into the lives of the early Spanish settlers.
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Site is located on Canon Perdido Street and is the only reconstructed presidio in California. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. There are a variety of programs and exhibits available to visitors. Visiting the historic site is a must for any history buff.
Getting There: El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP is easy to reach. It is located at 123 East Canon Perdido, between Santa Barbara and Anacapa Streets. There is free public parking on Canon Perdido Street and on the other side of State Street.
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FAQs about Santa Barbara, California
What is Santa Barbara most known for?
Santa Barbara is most well-known for its sandy beaches. There are many options to choose from, whether you want to catch the perfect wave, or the perfect sunset.
Why is Santa Barbara unique?
Santa Barbara is often called The American Riviera(r), due to its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and rich heritage, spectacular natural beauty, and near-perfect weather.