Here’s your guide to seeing the very best of Santa Barbara

There is a reason why so many people call the Santa Barbara area the American Riviera. Simply put, this might be the one place on the California coast that easily matches every taste and budget imaginable. Not only can you wine and dine to your heart’s desire, but there’s also a good number of festivals, concerts, and great special events. Simply put, Santa Barbara is the perfect destination if you want to have a long weekend getaway with your partner or your friends and it’s also a great place for the entire family to visit, too.

The perfect wine and dine weekend getaway

While there are so many compelling reasons to visit Santa Barbara, the region’s surrounding wine country is perhaps the biggest one. That’s because the area is known for its diversity in wine with over 50 different kinds of grapes. It’s without a doubt that both wine novices and those in the know will enjoy all of the tastings along Santa Barbara’s famed Urban Wine Trail. It’s another great hot spot in the areas with over two dozen wineries to choose from. If you are looking for something that will help guide you from one hot spot to the next, check out the Taste of Santa Barbara Food Tours.


What makes Santa Barbara so great is that it’s only 95 miles away from Los Angeles and about 220 miles away from San Diego. For those flying into Santa Barbara directly, you can choose Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA), which is only an 8-mile ride from the downtown area. The drive from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Santa Barbara is less than two hours, which makes it ideal for a weekend getaway. What’s more, there are also four daily trains that can take you from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

Queen of the Missions

While you are wining and dining your way through the Santa Barbara streets, don’t forget to also check out Mission Santa Barbara. It’s called Queen of the Missions because of its gorgeous setting and graceful beauty, according to many locals. Not only is it an Instagram hotspot, but it’s also one of California’s most beautiful relics from the 18thcentury. It is a mission with twin bell towers and the only one with two founding dates. That’s because Father Serra supposedly died after he wrote the first founding date.

In addition to its winery scene, you can also check out the lovely East Beach or try a whale watching tour with the family. There’s also the Santa Barbara Zoo, which will surely delight the youngest of family members, or the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

For those looking for a little history, check out the Reagan Ranch Center or the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. Simply put, you won’t be bored in this area as there’s plenty to do for people of all ages and interests.

The best time to visit Santa Barbara

Now, as far as when is the best time to visit Santa Barbara, both visitors and residents alike would say between March and May or September to November, as the restaurants and tourist scene isn’t too crowded. But the beauty of Santa Barbara is that there is great temperature all year round. With that said though, if you travel during the off-season there’s a good chance that you will get accommodation rates that are less expensive. Either way, this will be a great weekend getaway that will make you think about your next trip while you are still here.

A deeper dive – Related reading on the 101: