Best Things to Do in Downtown Santa Barbara
Experience the essence of the Californian lifestyle during your stay at the Cheshire Cat Inn. When you vacation at our stunning bed and breakfast, you’ll find that there is never a shortage of things to do in downtown Santa Barbara. Here, the Southern and Northern regions of the state come together to combine the art and culture of a big city with the beauty and hospitality of a small California beach town.
There are plenty of attractions and things to do in downtown Santa Barbara, where some of the best shopping, beaches, and restaurants are all within close proximity to our luxurious Santa Barbara inn.
Wine lovers must be sure to take a tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country vineyards or the Urban Wine Trail downtown Santa Barbara.
For sunshine and beach lovers, Santa Barbara is the place to come to experience any type of ocean sport from kayaking to scuba diving, sailing, parasailing, whale watching – you name it. Choose from many beaches along the coast, some ideal for surfing, swimming, or just relaxing in the sun.
Scholars and history buffs will also enjoy many of the historical sites and things to do in downtown Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara offers tours of the local Mission (also referred to as the Queen of Missions), which displays the historical architecture Santa Barbara is so famous for, or perhaps a visit to the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) is in order.
Whether you are looking for relaxation or adventure, there is never a shortage of things to do in downtown Santa Barbara. Below, we have compiled a list of all the best attractions and things to do in Santa Barbara so that you can get out and explore all that the beautiful city has to offer.
View our Santa Barbara Vacation Guide for insider tips on the best things to do in Santa Barbara!
Santa Barbara’s natural borders of sea and mountains provide numerous opportunities to get out and explore. Here are a few ways of making that happen.
Whale Watching Condor Express: The original whale watching company established in 1973.
Santa Barbara Sailing Center: Learn to sail or rent a boat for the afternoon. Charters available to visit the nearby Channel Islands.
Sunset Kidd Sailing Cruises: Day and sunset cruises aboard a 41-foot sailing yacht – a fun experience for all ages.
Paddleboard and Kayak Rentals: Located in the Marina next to our favorite seafood restaurant, Brophy’s, offers stand up paddle board and kayak rentals by the hour exploring the marina and yacht harbor.
Beaches: Four miles of glorious beaches border Santa Barbara superb for strolling, sunning and decompressing.
Trolley Tours: A perfect introduction to the town of Santa Barbara. Operating for over 30 years and experts in covering all of the notable places coupled with a worthwhile history lesson. They deliver great ideas for further exploration.
Bicycle Rentals: Santa Barbara is a bike friendly town with both dedicated bike lanes and paths meandering throughout the city and outlying areas. Bikes can be pre-arranged and delivered directly to the Inn.
Hiking Trails: Covering territory from our local Santa Ynez mountains to the famous Butterfly Beach you will find a vast array of choices for all levels of endurance.
Stearns Wharf: Santa Barbara’s most popular landmark providing the visitor with restaurants, marine museums, and shops with beautiful views of the stunning Santa Barbara coastline.
MUSEUMS, GARDENS, & HISTORIC SITES
The first Europeans discovered Santa Barbara in 1542, but the Chumash People were here before that. “Dana’s Two Years before The Mast” written in 1834 highlighted Santa Barbara. Here are just a few of our museums and locations that explore our past.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art: A world class museum that has an outstanding permanent collection and hosts several traveling exhibitions. Just a short walk from the Inn. Closed Mondays
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: The museum is over 100 years old, and they have a terrific collection on the history of Santa Barbara as well as interesting traveling exhibitions. The Museum is set in 17 acres of woodlands in Mission Canyon and is a local favorite for a relaxing afternoon visit.
MOXI the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation: Santa Barbara’s newest addition. MOXI is a place where you can explore and discover new things about the world around you, ask questions, seek answers and have a blast doing so.
El Presidio de Santa Barbara: If you are interested in California history, it is a must visit. The Presidio dates back to 1782.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: Founded in 1926, the Garden is dedicated to the conservation of California’s native plants. It is located on 73 acres in Mission canyon.
Old Mission, Santa Barbara: Founded in 1786, often called the “Queen of The Missions”. Put it on your itinerary, and you will understand why!