State Street

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Santa Barbara, CA
State Street
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State Street is the main strip in Santa Barbara with beautiful historic arcades, cafes, and Spanish architecture. It runs perpendicular to the ocean all the way from the pier to the suburbs of Santa Barbara. The main section, from the 500 block to the 1300 block, has pedestrian only blocks with cafes, bars, restaurants, and clothing shops. College kids spill out of bars on Thursday and Friday nights. And tourists walk up and down every day of the year. Because Santa Barbara is a fairly sleepy town, most of the action ends around midnight.

Unfortunately, State Street has become a place full of homeless people, and for some reason, the city is not cleaning the sidewalks anymore. Around the 900 block it is beyond filthy and makes you not want to come back.
State Street is home to colorful Spanish paseos and courtyards, filled with archways, fountains, sculptures, flags, vines, and overflowing flowerpots, including El Paseo at the 800 block (smaller and less popular), Paseo Nuevo at the 700 and 800 block, and La Arcada at the 1100 block. These are magical!
Walk State Street and see what nice things you find! At 502 State Street is Hibachi Steakhouse, a Japanese Restaurant with good food that they cook right in front of you. Watch the big fire they make! It's fun for kids. The meal is a deal, with miso soup, salad, and main entree all for one price. At 513 State Street is the James Joyce bar. You've got to see the 1930s Jazz band, Ulysses, at James Joyce bar on Saturday nights 7:30-10:30pm. It is a great scene! The Cost Plus World Market, at 610 State St, is a chain store with imported sweets, spices, and decorations. The European chocolate bars are so good! At Christmastime, the ornaments and sweet treats are magical.
At the 500 and 600 blocks on Tuesday afternoons, cruise the popular State Street Farmers Market from 3-6:30pm in winter and 4-7:30pm in summer, with balloon artist, musicians, produce, flowers, and yummy treats! It's pleasant to stroll in the shade of the trees and admire the fruits and vegetables- this is one of the nicest Farmers Markets.
In a courtyard that adjoins Ortega Street, check out Dargan's Irish Pub, with its attractive wood decor, fireplace, and clientele in their thirties. 
There are two theaters along State Street with lavish architecture. Arlington Theater, at the 1100 block, has delightful Spanish arches and fountain. Inside, it's magic- like a Spanish village. Once, when I walked out of the theater into the side alley at night I did a double-take. I had to remember I was in America because I thought for a moment that I was in Europe. At the 1200 block, check out the Granada Theater, the tallest building in Santa Barbara (eight storeys). Built in 1924 of steel construction, it was one of the few buildings to withstand the 1925 earthquake.
During Fiesta Days (August 2-6, 2023), State Street comes alive with crowds of people throwing confetti-filled eggs at each other! Lining the streets are vendors selling the colorful eggs, and there's confetti all over the ground! It's a fun scene that centers around De La Guerra Plaza on De La Guerra Street.
Walk through La Arcada at the 1100 Block of State Street to the Courthouse, a stunning Spanish building with lush sunken gardens and 360 degree views of Santa Barbara from the tower.
A few blocks east of the 1500 block of State Street are two gorgeous parks. Tall regal trees and lush green lawns beckon you to stay a while at Alameda Park with its wooden castle playground called Kidsworld.  Alice Keck Park is a wonderland with duck pond filled with koi and turtles, gazebo, hilly lawns, flowering trees, tropical flowers, water lilies, herb garden, and mountain views.
Before the eighties, the lower part of State Street at the 300 block actually used to run through the 101 Freeway and travelers would have to stop on the freeway at a traffic light! It was a seedy area. Although State Street is no longer very seedy in any areas, there is a large homeless population, mostly around the pier, the 500 block, and the 1100 and 1200 block.
The lower part of State Street now passes under the freeway and leads to the pier, Stearns Wharf. The Amtrak train station is located near the freeway underpass. Behind the train station, check out the giant Moreton Bay Fig tree. Next to the train station is the top-rate MOXI, a museum of discovery for kids. For adults there is the Reagan Ranch Center, just north of the train station- only for diehard Ronald Reagan fans. Across State Street from the train station is a hip area of wine bars, art, ivy-covered walls, and sunny patios called the Funk Zone- don't miss it! I absolutely adore Dart Coffee and its many outdoor seating spots, including a garden across the street from it. South of the train station there are some shops where you can rent surries to bike along West Beach Boardwalk and Cabrillo Bike Path.
State Street can be confusing to visitors because the street name continues all the way to the 3900 block, but this area is suburbia and is not related to the main strip of State Street. The freeway exit called "State St" has led many a tourist to a boring part of town he didn't intend to visit, and the  hotels on this upper part of State Street are not within walking distance of the main strip (though they are in a pleasant, clean area).

Continue to directions...

The colorful 500 block of State Street.

Hotel Santa Barbara at the 500 block of State St- pretty architecture.

Star fountain and Joe's Cafe behind.

A cafe on State Street.

O'Malley's Irish Pub on State Street.

People chilling out on the benches outside World Market.

The gorgeous, redone part of State Street on the 500 block.

Outdoor seating at a cafe is always a nice place to relax.

Old Town clock and a restaurant.

The sunface fountain at Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center on the 700 Block of State Street.

La Arcada spanish paseo at the 1100 block of State Street.

State Street, outside La Arcada.

Granada Theatre, recently restored.

Cafe with gorgeous mountain backdrop, one block east of State St along Ortega St.

Beautiful confetti-filled eggs sold on the street during Fiesta week.

Bumblebee fiesta eggs.

Fiesta eggs and confetti all over the street!

Minion fiesta eggs! Photo by Erin Ferguson.

Pretty view on Gutierrez Street (a side street), across from D'Angelo Bread.

Piano set up on the street, during a festival! So much fun!

Historic architecture on State Street.

Amazing Spanish architecture on State Street.

Cafes where State Street passes under the freeway.

The Moxi, a Science museum, is located on State Street a few blocks from the beach.

Hotel on State Street, a few blocks from the beach.

View of mountains, Norfolk pine, and palm trees at little park by the train station.

Ivy-covered building on State Street, part of La Arcada.

Cute building at 800 State St.

Walking up State Street on a sunny day.

Directions

To get to the main section of State St, exit Highway 101 at Carrillo Street. If on the 101 northbound, turn right. If on the 101 southbound, turn left. Drive along Carrillo Street about six blocks and then turn right on Anacapa Street. There are a number of public parking lots on Anacapa Street, which runs parallel to State Street. Public parking costs a few dollars an hour and the first 75 minutes are free.
Hibachi Steakhouse, 502 State St, call (805) 966-6607.
James Joyce Bar, 513 State Street, call (805) 962-2688.
Cost Plus World Market (imported candies and decorations), 610 State Street, call (805) 899-8311.
Dargan's Irish Pub, 18 East Ortega Street, call (805) 568-0702.

map

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Comments

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Rob

Thu, 15 Oct 2009

State Street is a great area! Nice and wide, great for people watching and shopping. Nightlife sucks though, they roll the sidewalks up at 9pm

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Jan

Thu, 01 Oct 2009

The waterfront shuttle bus up State St... good times.

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JC

Thu, 01 Oct 2009

Brickyard and O'malleys!!

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Steve

Sat, 26 Dec 2009

Try to catch a show at the Arlington Theater (between Sola and Victoria); it's a wonderful venue.

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Jason

Sat, 20 Apr 2019

It's dotted with gorgeous buildings.

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Tim

Fri, 26 Nov 2010

I love North Star, I'm a regular there when I'm down from the Bay Area!

Last Updated: Wed, 15 May 2024 16:29:12 GMT

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