Santa Barbara Sights & Landmarks
Take a stroll through Santa Barbara’s historic downtown, known as “Pueblo Viejo” for a glimpse into the city’s most interesting landmarks and examples of Spanish architecture. Some great places to visit in Santa Barbara include:
Old Mission Santa Barbara
For another glimpse at the city’s origins, the Mission Santa Barbara offers a nice sampling of 17th-century art, along with re-creations of the church’s original living quarters, with mud adobe walls. The Old Mission was founded by the Franciscans in 1786 and remains an active place of worship. Visitors are welcome to admire the stunning architecture, sprawling gardens and on-site museum. The Mission is open from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. daily for self-guided tours with an admission fee. Docent-led tours are available Thursdays and Fridays at 11 a.m.
Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Completed in 1929, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is an iconic landmark with its red tile roof, elegant arches and four-faced clocktower. The still-functioning courthouse features Spanish-Moorish architecture, beautifully manicured gardens and intricate painted murals. Docents provide free tours in the mural room daily at 2 p.m., and 10:30 a.m. on weekdays.
State Street is the heart and soul of downtown Santa Barbara, and the epicenter for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Bustling with art galleries, theaters, boutiques, cafes, museums and places to eat, State Street is made for walking and generally enjoying the beauty that is Santa Barbara. When your legs tire, hitch a ride on the downtown electric shuttle which plies up and down the busy avenue (tickets are only 50 cents!)
Santa Barbara Restaurants
Santa Barbara has evolved into an epic foodie destination, with a slew of award-winning restaurants and eateries that serve up everything from fresh regional fare to ethnic specialties and classic California comfort food. With nearly 500 restaurants to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect place for a casual bite to eat or a transcendent gastronomic experience.
If you want a true local experience, head to Brophy Bros on Harbor Way. Located on the pier with stellar water and mountain views, this family-friendly establishment is known for their excellent seafood, huge servings and attentive service. Be warned, Brophy Bros Clam Bar is always busy, so expect a short wait if you don’t have reservation. Their signature Bloody Mary’s come highly recommended, as do their steamed clams in wine sauce, Cajun seabass and raw oysters. Take advantage of the outdoor seating during sunsets and enjoy this Santa Barbara culinary treasure that draws locals and tourists alike.
Toma Restaurant & Bar
Toma Restaurant and Bar ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a splash out dinner with impeccable service. Located between the wharf and the harbor on West Cabrillo Boulevard, this Santa Barbara waterfront restaurant racks up rave reviews for its 5-star food. The eclectic menu features Italian-inspired Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist. Perennial favorites include the spice-roasted rack of lamb, black spaghetti with clams and a delicious squash blossom starter. Each dish is handcrafted using locally-sourced ingredients and can be paired with a wide selection of California wines.
Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach
This is where locals take their visiting friends to get a real taste of Santa Barbara, as nothing quite beats dining right on the beach. The Boathouse at Hendry’s has a varied menu with lots of tantalizing choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re coming for Happy Hour, try their trademark Boathouse punch made with Flor de Cana rum, creme de coconut, fresh orange juice and pineapple juice. There is a fantastic raw bar, plenty of seafood-heavy mains, tasty soups and salads and a decadent dessert menu. Their homemade macadamia nut mud pie, made with coffee ice cream, is sure to put a smile on your face.
Santa Barbara Nightlife
The majority of bars and nightclubs in Santa Barbara can be found on or near lower State Street, mixed among the shops and restaurants. Most clubs get cranking around 9 p.m., but there are plenty of cool places to grab a drink with friends earlier in the evening. Check out some of these places to visit in Santa Barbara for nightlife.
Joe’s Café has the distinction of being Santa Barbara’s oldest dining establishment, founded in 1928. This lively downtown cafe is praised for its hearty diner fare, American favorites and ultra-stiff cocktails that keep visitors coming back for more. Folks come to enjoy the friendly speakeasy ambiance, and say the wait staff serve up the strongest drinks in town! For a casual drink with friends, slide into one of their plush leather booths and browse a large selection of top shelf martinis, wines, beers and cocktails.
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.
Figueroa Mountain Brewing in Buellton may not be as well-known as other craft breweries, but if you love a good ale, it is definitely worth a visit. The place has a laid-back vibe, good music and the staff are constantly rotating taps with their latest experimentations. Hop heads will have no shortage of options including the popular Hurricane Deck Double IPA, Hoppy Poppy IPA and Lizard’s Mouth- an Imperial IPA. There is an outdoor patio, inexpensive bar food, and live music on most weekends. Like a little friendly competition? Tuesdays are Trivia Nights with a $5/per person buy-in.
Outpost at the Goodland
From happy hour to late night noshing, the Outpost at the Goodland Hotel keeps the good times rolling. In addition to an expansive wine collection, this hip restaurant and bar features an inspiring menu of handcrafted cocktails, with changing daily specials. If a Bloody Mary sounds too pedestrian, why not try their Red Snapper, made with top-shelf gin, horseradish, cranberry and caper juice and garnished with an oyster!
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