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Where To Eat, Play, & Stay in Santa Barbara

Last summer we gave you our list of Top Five Things To Do In Santa Barbara, but that’s not all there is to do in our sunny city. Summertime in Santa Barbara has so much to offer it’s nearly impossible to do it all–even if you live here–but that’s no reason not to try!

Below is a list of some of our favorite things to do, places to explore, top eateries, and places to stay in three of our favorite neighborhoods to help round out your traveling adventures in the best city on the Central Coast.


Things To Do

Sea Cave Kayaking with SB Adventure Co

Photo courtesy of SB Adventure Co

Take to the sea with a paddle in the “Galapagos of North America” through crystalline waters, in and out of sea caves while you view an abundance of wildlife. After your kayak, snorkel among the kelp forest or enjoy a hike overlooking the Santa Barbara channel and marine sanctuary with Santa Barbara Adventure Company.

More of a land lover? Go for for a spin around town in a SB Buggie! Take in the sights of the Central Coast from inside a two-seater, three-wheeled ride that promises a truly adventurous tour of our gorgeous coastline.

Best Eats

Interior of Helena Avenue Bakery
Grab a freshly baked breakfast in the Funk Zone at Helena Avenue Bakery before heading out for the day. After kayaking or zipping around town, enjoy lunch in the Santa Barbara Harbor at On the Alley where you’ll feast on locally sourced fish tacos.

Later, hit up happy hour at Finney’s Crafthouse, one of the newest eateries in the Funk Zone that has a unique craft beer menu and super tasty small plates. Doing dinner at Loquita is a must as it is Santa Barbara’s only Spanish restaurant that features cuisine from the Basque region of Spain.

Places To Shop & Explore

Entrance to The Blue Door in the Funk Zone

Spend some time wandering the unique collective shopping spaces in the Funk Zone.

Start your shopping excursion at The Guilded Table, a collective artisan studio and marketplace, inside the Waterline Building on Santa Barbara Street. Next, head toward the heart of the neighborhood to score some new threads at The Shopkeepers. Then hike the three floors of The Blue Door where you’ll shop to your heart’s content for unique and vintage home goods.

Where To Stay

Interior photo of hotel room at The Wayfarer

Photo courtesy of The Wayfarer

The Wayfarer is Santa Barbara’s only “poshtel” (posh hostel) that features an Instagram-worthy urban outdoor pool, communal kitchen that’s probably nicer than the one you have at home, and plush sleeping spaces.

More of a 5-star traveler? Live your best life at Hotel Californian, the newest luxury hotel in the neighborhood that boasts shopping, good eats, and a rooftop pool with incredible views of the coastline and Channel Islands.


Things To Do

Exterior Photo of Presidio Chapel
Get immersed in the city’s early history with a guided visit of El Presidio de Santa Barbara and Casa de la Guerra or explore on your own as you wander in and out of some of the oldest buildings in California. With an entrance fee of only $5, you can’t afford to not go!

Treat yourself to an afternoon of pampering at Float Luxury Spa, inside one of the Presidio’s original homes. After your spa treatment, sit outside near the reflecting pool to enjoy some peace and quiet and stay “until you feel so light that you could float.”

Best Eats

There’s no better way to start the day than with coffee in-hand from Handlebar Coffee Roasters. Get your joe to go or enjoy a latte at one of the tables in the alleyway turned patio with views of the Presidio chapel. For lunch, Panino has the best salads and sandwiches, in our opinion! Feast on the ever-popular Curry Chicken Salad or other tasty dishes in one of the oldest houses in the city.

Hand holding a strawberry margarita at an outdoor table Wrap up the day with classic Santa Barbara faire while you sip on happy hour margaritas on La Playa Azul Cafe’s picturesque patio before heading to Zaytoon for a relaxing Lebanese dinner under the stars.

Places To Shop & Explore

Discover hot new designers at Jake & Jones, a creative shopping space inspired by the owner’s two sons, before you walk around the corner to Make Smith Leather Co. where you can sport a new tote, belt, or wallet.

Interior of Make Smith Leather Co Store

Photo courtesy of Make Smith Leather Co.

Looking for a hands-on experience? Sign up for a leather crafting workshop where you’ll learn how to make your own duds and walk away with a one-of-a-kind piece.

Where To Stay

Exterior entrance to Spanish Garden Inn in Santa Barbara

Photo courtesty of Spanish Garden Inn

Escape to the Spanish Garden Inn, a tucked away gem in the heart of downtown. This luxury boutique property is swathed in lush garden paths that connect you to the dining, shopping, and historical sites of the Presidio neighborhood.


Things To Do

Catch a first-rate musical or Broadway show at The Granada Theatre. Sit back and be entertained in the central coast’s premier performing arts venue that makes you feel like you’ve escaped to a grand European opera house.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art Entrance

Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Museum of Art

State Street isn’t just for shopping! A visit to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is always in order for those looking for a bit of art and culture, with 27,000 works of art constantly in rotation as well as world-class exhibits.

Best Eats

Shrimp and Grits Breakfast at Scarlett Begonia
The farm-to-table brunch game is strong at Scarlett Begonia with dishes to drool over, like Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Shrimp & Grits. Whether you’re a hard-core gluten-free eater or simply enjoy French pastry, Lilac Patisserie is the place to lunch. (Our recommendation: get the quiche!)

Satellite Window Seating Facing State Street
In the afternoon, people watch while sipping top-shelf wines or the perfect Italian spritz at Satellite, a farm-to-bar experience unlike any other cocktail joint on the strip. Later, feast family-style on locally sourced organic, rustic fair at Smithy Kitchen + Bar.

Places to Shop & Explore

La Arcada Shopping Plaza in SAnta bArbara at Night
Shop around the picturesque La Arcada plaza. Walk on the charming historic brick floors of Lewis & Clark that clank underfoot while you peruse their antique home goods and gifts. Next, pay a visit to Ace Rivington for men’s fashion basics that never go out of style. (Fact: these guys sell the softest t-shirts you’ll ever touch!)

Where To Stay

If you’re looking for a great hotel experience, you can’t go wrong with the Canary Hotel. Rooftop pool with city views, great eats, complimentary bikes and next level hosting for you and Fido are just a few reasons why you should stay at this downtown gem.

Paradise Retreats Vacation Home

Photo courtesy of Paradise Retreats Vacation

Looking for a luxury home rental experience? Whatever your budget, group size, or tastes Paradise Retreats has got you covered!

Looking to add one of our tours to your summer plans? Check out our calendar for availability on our public tours or contact us to set up a custom private tour for a group!