Editor's Bests in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has some fantastic places to explore! Here are our favorites!

Map View Back To California Bests

Best Museum- Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

This maritime museum at Santa Barbara Harbor keeps kids and adults busy learning for hours! 

Best Playground- Kidsworld Castle Playground

Giant wooden castle playground set among tropical palms.

Best Beach for Dogs- Hendry's Beach

A popular beach with families and dog owners. Come for a long walk under beautiful cliffs.

Best Beach for a Summer Swim- Santa Claus Lane Beach

A long perfect beach popular with locals! The water stays shallow for ages making it nice for kids!

Best Views Over the Sea- Shoreline Park

Peek over the high cliffs at little coves below, look out over Santa Barbara harbor, and sit on a whale's tail!

Best Short Hike with Kids- Nojoqui Falls Walk, Solvang

Twenty-minute wooded hike that leads to a high waterfall over mossy walls.

Beat Ice Cream with a View- Stearns Wharf, The Pier

The main pier in Santa Barbara, which offers spectacular views and a festive atmosphere!

Best Sunny Spot to Sip a Coffee Outdoors- Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta

Sit here on a red brick terrace in the sun and look out on the colored umbrellas and bell tower.

Best Beginners Summer Surf Spot- Campus Point, UCSB

The surfing beach at UCSB- a pretty spot.

Best Place to Contemplate the Beauty of Life- Coal Oil Point and Sands Beach

A walk along a clifftop to a popular surfing area with gorgeous sand dunes and exotic plants.

Best Free Gardens- Alice Keck Park Gardens

A park of exquisite beauty, with flowering trees and a picnic lawn fronting a pond full of turtles and koi.

Best Spanish Architecture- Santa Barbara Courthouse

An exceptionally beautiful courthouse, sunken garden, and tower with 360 degree views of Santa Barbara.

Best Bike Ride- Andree Clark Bird Refuge, or The Lagoon

Bike riding around this lagoon, with its backdrop of the mountains and the Montecito Country Club, is bliss! Note: Stinky since the drought.

Best Place to Feed the Ducks- Lake Los Carneros

Joggers enjoy the wide trails and expansive views at Lake Los Carneros.

Best Shopping- Paseo Nuevo Mall

A pedestrian-only area on State Street with sidewalk cafes, good shopping, and colorful Spanish architecture.

Best Place to Learn About Old California- La Purisima Mission, Lompoc

A salmon-pink mission set among gorgeous countryside with little rooms that transport you to the 1820s.

Best Hip Cafes- Funk Zone

Area with wine bars, breweries, cafes, and bakeries, where you can sit on a patio surrounded by ivy-covered walls.

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