Stearns Wharf, The Pier

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Santa Barbara, CA
Stearns Wharf, The Pier
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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 ice cream! It's a yummy brand there (Thrifty), especially the Rocky Road ice cream! 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 Santa Barbara Sea Center is a small aquarium with beautiful jellies, touch tanks, and an opening to the sea floor! The  views of the mountains and the sea through the huge windows are gorgeous. 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!
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.
West Beach leads west from the pier, with a lovely bike path in the sand, and a boardwalk with tiled artwork. Rows of tall California palms give it the quintessential California beach feel. Young people play beach volleyball in the sand. There is a small ship playground beside the West Beach wading pool. Walk all the way to the Santa Barbara Harbor (a happening scene) and Leadbetter Beach with its yellow cliffs.
Walk north on State Street a few blocks and you will come to E. Yanonali Street, or the Funk Zone, a hip area full of wine bars, young well-dressed people from LA, and ivy-covered walls.

Continue to directions...

View of the beach and mountains from the pier.

I love the mountains behind the pier! Wow!

View of the harbor and "the mesa" from the pier.

A shiny Great Blue Heron, relaxing on the pier.

Tables at the top of the pier on the balcony that's open to the public.

Colorful view from the pier.

View from the upstairs balcony of a couple enjoying a walk on the pier.

Shaded picnic tables on the pier where you can enjoy your icecream cone! The upstairs balcony that is open to the public is shown in the background.

Small octopus at the sea center! Look at him go!

View from the big windows on the second floor of the sea center.

View of Santa Barbara from the sea center.

The famous dolphin fountain at the base of the pier.

Colorful flags on the pier.

Ty Warner Sea Center, on the pier.

You can't top this view- leave with a renewed perspective on life! Longboards Grill on the pier.

Pelicans on the pier restaurant roofs, as seen from the harbor.

Shops on the pier, as seen by boat.

Lazy seals hanging out on a buoy by the pier.

Dolphin statue and palms.

View of East Beach as you walk along the pier.

Fun with paddleboards on a summer day.

Enjoying the sunshine at the pier.

View of The Mesa, from Stearns Wharf.

Sailboat, and The Mesa behind.

The pier, mountains, and West Beach.

Water galore!


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. 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.
Santa Barbara Sea Center is located on Stearns Wharf. Open daily 10-5. Closed on Jan 1, Thanksgiving (4th Thurs in Nov), Dec 24 at 3pm, and Dec 25. Admission is $13 for adults, $11 for teens/seniors, and $10 for children. Children under age 2 are free. Call (805) 962-2526.


Click on map for interactive view


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Wed, 09 Sep 2009

Great pictures! Wow, I haven't been to SB in years and's so gorgeous...

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Wed, 07 Jul 2010

I proposed to my wife on the pier in August 2001. Those were the best days ever.

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Thu, 01 Oct 2009

So Jealous! Have fun guys!

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Sun, 15 Jan 2017

looks like the perfect day next to the water

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Mon, 14 Sep 2009

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.

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Fri, 23 Oct 2009


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Fri, 09 Oct 2009

Le plus beau voyage que j\'ai fait!

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Fri, 07 Oct 2011

Can\'t hardly wait to our upcoming trip to Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving weekend

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Fri, 07 Oct 2011

Can\\\'t hardly wait to our upcoming trip to Santa Barbara on Thanksgiving weekend

Last Updated: Wed, 21 Feb 2024 18:18:13 GMT

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