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Santa Barbara

The American Riviera offers historic adobe architecture, plenty of art galleries, wineries and beautiful beaches. 

Santa Barbara is famous for its expensive hotels, large mansions and trendy boutiques, but it also has beautiful beaches and many museums and festivals dedicated to celebrating the city’s past.

Be sure to visit Santa Barbara’s picture-perfect beaches. Lie on the soft sand and read a book, or grab a board and hit the surf. Conditions are great for beginners, but on the right day there are some good breaks for those of all skill levels.

Marvel at the Franciscan–Spanish architecture of the old Santa Barbara Mission. You’ll find artifacts and documents from old missionaries, a still-operating chapel, and the mission’s impressive and well-kept grounds. For more old architecture, visit the adobe Rafael Gonzalez house or the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Head up the bell tower for great views of the surrounding area. History buffs will also want to check out the Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish fortress from the 1780s.

Learn how modern-day Santa Barbara came about as you wander through the exhibits at the city’s Historical Museum. For a look at the evolution of plant and wildlife in the area and beyond, spend some time at the Museum of Natural History.

Art lovers will enjoy the city’s excellent institutions. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art has an extensive collection of European, American and Asian art, and plays host to some world-class exhibitions. For a look at more recent works, wander over to the Contemporary Arts Forum. This gallery is artist-run and funded, and is dedicated to exhibiting the highest-quality work in the region.

To enjoy other local products, organize a tour of the region’s wineries.

Santa Barbara enjoys the sophisticated charm of a much larger city but maintains a quaint, friendly atmosphere. Throw in a fascinating history, loads of cultural activities and excellent beaches, and it’s not hard to see why it attracts visitors from around the world.

Top hotels in Santa Barbara

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Hotel Corque
Hotel Corque
4 out of 5
400 Alisal Rd., Solvang, CA
RM427
per night
3 May-4 May

Situated in Solvang, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum and Solvang Festival Theater. Hans Christian Andersen Museum and ...

4.6/5Exceptional! (3,139 reviews)

"pool was heated and available till 9pm. No microwave in room."…"

Reviewed on 18 Mar 2020

Hotel Corque
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
4 out of 5
633 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA
RM736
per night
6 Apr-7 Apr

Located in East Beach, this beach hotel is 0.5 mi (0.9 km) from Santa Barbara Zoo, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Presidio Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County ...

4/5Very Good! (2,123 reviews)

"Great location, nice rooms, good food, bikes were available"…"

Reviewed on 10 Mar 2020

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
Hotel Californian
Hotel Californian
5 out of 5
36 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA
RM1,761
per night
6 May-7 May

Located in Santa Barbara Beach, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation and Stearns Wharf. Santa Barbara ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (474 reviews)

"Staff greeted us promptly and got us to our room with a minimum of time."…"

Reviewed on 17 Mar 2020

Hotel Californian

Top activities in Santa Barbara

Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)
Image for Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

Tastings at 400+ West Coast Wineries (Priority Wine Pass)

RM173
Per adult
Kayaking Santa Barbara's Waterfront
Image for Kayaking Santa Barbara's Waterfront

Kayaking Santa Barbara's Waterfront

80% of travellers recommend
RM228
Per adult
Santa Barbara Funk Zone Food & Photography Tour
Image for Santa Barbara Funk Zone Food & Photography Tour

Santa Barbara Funk Zone Food & Photography Tour

100% of travellers recommend
RM457
Per adult

Reviews of Santa Barbara

4.5

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
49
5 - Excellent 63.63636363636363%
4 - Good
22
4 - Good 28.571428571428573%
3 - Okay
5
3 - Okay 6.4935064935064934%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 1.2987012987012987%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

29 Nov 2019

Don’t expect Santa Barbara to be a cheap place to stay.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

21 Sep 2019

Very nice seaside city.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

18 Sep 2019

A must place to go.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

18 Sep 2019

Stunning area to visit, highly recommend

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

9 Sep 2019

Really nice area if you are looking to chill out and relax.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

27 Aug 2019

Very family friendly and lovely beach and restaurants

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Santa Barbara

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