Stearns Wharf, The Pier
||Santa Barbara, CA|
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There are lots of ways to enjoy the pier. We call it "the pier" because Stearns Wharf sounds, well, stern, and the pier is a whole lot more fun than that! It's nice to stroll along the pier and look out on either side of you at the breathtaking views of Santa Barbara and East Beach. There are plaques up along the pier that explain the wildlife, such as the kelp forests below, the blue herons that relax in the sun, or how the moon shapes the tides. It makes for an interesting read. Rows of flags wave in the wind, enthralling little tikes, as does the dolphin fountain at the base of the pier.
Something we always do when we go to the pier is get icecream! It's a yummy brand there (Thrifty), especially the Rocky Road icecream! You can eat it on the benches behind the ice cream parlor overlooking the ocean. The views of Santa Barbara backed by the Santa Ynez mountains are breathtaking. On Sunday afternoons there is live Jazz atop the stairs beside the wine shop. The wine shop doesn't own the balcony up there so anyone can go up and enjoy the views! Walk to the very end of the pier and you will might see seals hanging out on buoys not far from shore. They make some great noises! Blue herons and pelicans hang out at the end of the pier, completely tame and unafraid of all the people. It's fun to watch them. Kids like to stand on the huge compass at the end of the pier. Once we even saw a baby whale swimming around between the pier and the harbor.
The Ty Warner Sea Center is more like a science lab than an aquarium. There are some no-frills touchpools and tanks, and upstairs there are some fun activities for older kids. Kids can measure the water quality and temperature of the water below the pier. The young volunteers at the Science Center are friendly and tell you about the animals. The best part though are the views through the huge windows. On rainy days the sea center is a good place to come to enjoy views from the pier without the cold.
You can drive onto the pier if you want and it's fun to hear it creak beneath you! You park all the way at the end and get your parking validated when you buy icecream, a meal, or a souvenir.
If you're hungry, there are several options on the pier, all with great views. My favorite is the outdoor area at Longboards Grill, which is upstairs, affording amazing views. You can't help but feel positive and happy up there with such glorious views spread out before you. Too bad the hip hop music can be irritating and it's not the cleanest restaurant. Their California roll is yummy though. Downstairs is Harbor Restaurant, formal and expensive, with average food. It's a good option on a cold day because you can look out the huge glass windows at the pelicans and sailboats without feeling the frosty air!
On Sundays at the base of the pier, Arlington West is set up in the sand at West Beach. It is a memorial to the soldiers who have died in Iraq. Each soldier's name is on a white cross, and family members travel from far away to remember their loved one. It's very sad to see how many crosses there are.
After visiting the pier, walk east along Cabrillo Bike Path to see the skate park, hundreds of palms, and in spring, magenta and yellow beach succulents. It leads all the way to East Beach (a lively spot with volleyball nets) and the Andree Clark Bird Refuge lagoon (tranquil and beautiful). There is an imaginative playground on the corner of Cabrillo Blvd and Garden St at Chase Palm Park.
You can also walk west along the West Beach Boardwalk. There is a small ship playground beside the West Beach wading pool. Walk all the way to the harbor (a happening scene) and Leadbetter Beach with its yellow cliffs.
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Stearns Wharf is located at the southern tip of State Street. Exit Highway 101 at Castillo Street. Turn towards the ocean. Turn left on Cabrillo Blvd. Park along the road for free before you get to the pier. Or turn right onto the pier, and park all the way at the end. There is free parking for the first 90 minutes. You can get your pier parking validated if you make a purchase at the ice cream shop or one of the souvenir shops- this is worth it because otherwise it costs $2.50 an hour. Harbor Restaurant and Longboards Grill have valet parking. You can also park for free along Cabrillo Blvd and walk to the pier.
Harbor Restaurant, 210 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, call (805) 963-3311.
Longboards Grill, call (805) 963-3311.
Great Pacific Ice Cream, call (805) 962-0108.
Ty Warner Sea Center is located on Stearns Wharf. You can park on the pier and get your parking validated at the sea center. Open daily 10-5. Closed on Jan 1, Thanksgiving (4th Thurs in Nov), Dec 24 at noon, and Dec 25. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for teens/seniors, and $5 for children. Children under 2 are free. Call (805) 962-2526.
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Overall Visitor Rating:
|Can\\\'t hardly wait to our upcoming trip to Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving weekend|
|Can\'t hardly wait to our upcoming trip to Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving weekend|
|I proposed to my wife on the pier in August 2001. Those were the best days ever.|
|Le plus beau voyage que j\'ai fait!|
|So Jealous! Have fun guys!|
|My kids like the crawl tunnel and the warty sea cucumbers. If you get an annual pass at the Natural History Museum you can come as often as you want and only stay for a short while without feeling guilty about wasting the entrance fee.|
|Great pictures! Wow, I haven't been to SB in years and years....it's so gorgeous...|