Welcome to Santa Barbara! One of our favorite cities in the world. There's so much to do, and we hope you will take advantage of it while you're here. One of the best things about Santa Barbara is how walkable it is. We highly recommend exploring the city on foot or by bike. Below are some activities and restaurants we recommend, but by no means is it an exhaustive list. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
One of the best ways to enjoy Santa Barbara's beautiful weather is through a hike, and there are plenty to choose from! Whether you are looking for a casual stroll or a rigorous climb, there's something for everyone. Below are some of our favorite trails.
Romero Canyon Trail is a 5.5 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Santa Barbara, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
Rattlesnake Canyon is a 4.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Santa Barbara, California that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, and horses. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
The Douglas Family Preserve is 70-acres and has plenty of paths to choose from.
Ellwood Bluffs/Coronado Butterfly Preserve is a 1.2 mile loop trail located near Goleta, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and trail running. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
Old Mission Santa Barbara: Travel back in time to Santa Barbara’s earliest days at the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara. With its grand double bell towers, lush gardens (like the rose garden featured above) and the majestic Santa Ynez mountains as a backdrop, the Mission is one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks.
Lotusland is a beautiful botanical garden and home to more than 3,000 types of plants. Check for tour availability before going.
Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden is a great stop if you’re exploring the neighborhood. Just a few blocks from the Wachtenheims, they always go out of their way to walk through the beautiful park and say hi to all the turtles on their way into town.
Stearns Wharf is a beautiful (albeit commercial) place to walk, eat, and shop right on the water!
The Jeff Shelton Walking Tour is the perfect activity for those interested in architecture!
For our golfer guests: Santa Barbara’s best known golf club is Sandpiper, and there are plenty of other public courses to choose from as well.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is one of the nation's best small zoos. With beautiful grounds and some really cool animals (they once had a giraffe with a crooked neck), it's a great way to spend an afternoon.
Rent a traditional bike, an electric bike, or look super silly on one of Santa Barbara's group bikes -- one of which is featured above in the funny old photo of five-year-old Jackie and three-year-old Amy on the Santa Barbara boardwalk, with the Mother of the Bride (Cynthia) holding baby Robby, the grandfather of the bride, and the puppy of the bride in the bike behind them! A great way to explore the coastline.
*Wheel Fun Rentals has two locations in Santa Barbara so make sure to check which is more convenient for you!
Santa Barbara is home to many wine tasting rooms, which are supplied by local wineries. The Funk Zone is a particularly good area to explore because you can walk from one tasting room to another (it's also home to many great restaurants). Urban Wine Trails is a great source to find the best tasting rooms!
Santa Barbara is also home to plenty of craft breweries. Pro-tip: Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company is located in the Funk Zone and Lucky Penny pizza delivers there for free.
The Funk Zone is a trendy and fun area with lots of great food and drinks. Below are some of the area's best restaurants!
The Lark: You will likely will need a reservation in advance for one of the most popular (and delicious) restaurants in Santa Barbara!
Loquita: An authentic Spanish food and one of Grackie’s favorite restaurants. Hands down pure awesomeness.
The Lucky Penny is another Funk Zone favorite: Wood-fired pizza fired up real nice.
Mony's Mexican Food: Tacossssss
McConnell's Fine Ice Creams: Amazing ice cream and an absolute MUST for your visit to Santa Barbara (where McConnell's originated). Make sure to sample plenty of fun flavors!
Crushcakes & Cafe: Great for a casual brunch/lunch or to pick up a quick coffee or dessert. One of the parents of the grooms’ favorite spots.
Helena Avenue Bakery: Perfect for a casual bite to eat.
Lilac Pâtisserie: Perfect for those who disdain gluten (aka it’s gluten-free). Also good for gluten lovers and gluten-indifferent people.
Handlebar Coffee Roasters: Excellent coffee. A must for Jackie every time she visits Santa Barbara (Greg is a freak and doesn’t drink coffee but steals sips of Jackie’s).
Zaytoon: Delicious and casual Lebanese food with ample outdoor seating (blankets provided if it's chilly out). The frequent location of bachelorette parties. If you’re lucky, you may even get a visit from the belly dancer, which is not at all an awkward situation when you go with your parents/in-laws like Greg and Jackie.
Brophy Bros.: Seafood on the wharf. A reservation likely needed.
Olio e Limone Ristorante: Classic Italian food.
bouchon Santa Barbara: French fare.