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California

Santa Barbara holidays

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Santa Barbara? No sweat.

Santa Barbara is a city in southern California. It occupies the longest stretch of south-facing coastline on the US West Coast and has been nicknamed ‘the American Riviera’, thanks to the golden beaches that span the length of the city. Santa Barbara spent more than 100 years under Spanish control, and historic European influences can still be felt through the white-walled, red-roofed buildings that line many of its streets. Its Mediterranean climate means that summers are pleasantly hot and winters are milder. And the city is mostly shielded from wet weather by the Santa Ynez mountain range, so most days here are dry, whatever the season.

If you like to take things easy, a holiday to Santa Barbara will suit you down to the ground. There are plenty of beachfront bars and eateries to try, and scenic lookout points where you can enjoy views across the Santa Barbara channel. You can have a go at watersports and surfing here – the calmer waters and weak tides are best suited to beginners or families seeking a safe place to splash about. And, if you want to add culture to your trip, why not visit the vast mansion left behind by Spanish missionaries? When you need a break, stop to smell the roses at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, a relaxing gem up in Mission Valley.

Not sure where to stay on your trip to Santa Barbara? If you want to be close to the city’s main shopping and dining area, State Street, opt for a hotel in Downtown or Eastside. If you’d prefer to get away from it all, Mission Canyon and Upper East are closer to the Los Padres Forest, where you’ll find plenty of trails for all fitness levels. Wherever you choose to stay, it’s easy to feel relaxed in this sunny seaside city – it’s a brilliant holiday spot in its own right, but also makes a great pit stop on a Pacific Highway road trip.

Things to do

Beaches

Nature

Best time to go

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Get your culture fix by visiting Old Mission Santa Barbara, an 18th-century mansion established by Spanish missionaries. Santa Barbara County Courthouse is similarly grand, with gold-gilded murals on every wall. Make sure you visit Santa Barbara’s Natural History and Historical museums, too, where you can learn about the Chumash Native Americans who first called the area home.

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Fancy a walk? Santa Barbara’s picture-perfect Botanic Garden, in Mission Canyon, has nearly nine kilometres of paths to explore. Wander through the Japanese tea garden or marvel at the towering redwoods and native Californian plants that bloom here.

California’s wine industry is focused on Sonoma and Napa Valley to the north, but Santa Barbara also produces some of the state’s best bottles. It’s a 45-minute drive to the Santa Ynez valleys, but worth every minute if you’re a true wine connoisseur.


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Santa Barbara’s beaches

The beaches in Santa Barbara are some of California’s finest. Lively East Beach is where you’ll find many of the city’s best shops and eateries. It’s also the area’s longest stretch of sand, so you’ll have plenty of space to sunbathe, play games or take a dip. You’ll find Santa Barbara Zoo and volleyball courts on its eastern edge, while California’s oldest working pier Stearns Wharf is located on its western side. Fresh seafood is served here daily and there’s also an interactive aquarium for little ones.

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Leadbetter Beach, meanwhile, is the best spot for surfing, bodyboarding and paddle-boarding. The sea’s calm enough for year-round watersports, but you should hire a wetsuit if you’re braving the water in winter. Arroyo Burro Beach is the city’s dog-friendly beach – bring a picnic and relax on the sands or in the surrounding park. When the sun goes down, Butterfly Beach in Coast Village is the best place to capture the sunsets.

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Nature in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is bordered by the vast Los Padres National Forest to the north. You might spot California condors, elk, bald eagles and endangered plants among the lakes and redwood, oak and conifer forests. Try out the Rattlesnake Canyon Trailhead, where trails for all abilities run through the scenic forest, and there are deep pools for cooling off.

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Show Less

Just off Santa Barbara’s coast lies the Channel Islands National Park. Charter a private boat from Santa Barbara directly, or catch the public ferry out to Anacapa Island from nearby Ventura or Oxnard, about 30 minutes’ drive away. You can explore sea caves, snorkel in the calm waters or hike across the rugged island. Or, go for a private cruise out to Santa Barbara Island for a close encounter with sea lions on its secluded shores. Whale-watching is also popular in Santa Barbara – orca, humpback, blue, grey whales migrate through its waters in winter.

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Best time to visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara holidays are most popular in summer, when the temperatures and ocean are at their warmest. Book your trip between June and August for the best weather, but be prepared for the beaches and streets to be very busy. Visiting in late spring or early autumn is a great choice if you’re not keen on crowds, as Santa Barbara’s Mediterranean climate means the weather is warm for most of the year.

Show More
Show Less

While December to March is the rainiest and chilliest time to visit Santa Barbara, it’s also the quietest time – so you’ll feel like you’ve got the beaches all to yourself. Plus, with an average of just six days of rainfall and temperatures that rarely dip below the low teens, the weather’s still pleasant enough for outdoor strolls.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Santa Barbara

Get your culture fix by visiting Old Mission Santa Barbara, an 18th-century mansion established by Spanish missionaries. Santa Barbara County Courthouse is similarly grand, with gold-gilded murals on every wall. Make sure you visit Santa Barbara’s Natural History and Historical museums, too, where you can learn about the Chumash Native Americans who first called the area home.

Show More
Show Less

Fancy a walk? Santa Barbara’s picture-perfect Botanic Garden, in Mission Canyon, has nearly nine kilometres of paths to explore. Wander through the Japanese tea garden or marvel at the towering redwoods and native Californian plants that bloom here.

California’s wine industry is focused on Sonoma and Napa Valley to the north, but Santa Barbara also produces some of the state’s best bottles. It’s a 45-minute drive to the Santa Ynez valleys, but worth every minute if you’re a true wine connoisseur.


Show More
Show Less

Beaches

Santa Barbara’s beaches

The beaches in Santa Barbara are some of California’s finest. Lively East Beach is where you’ll find many of the city’s best shops and eateries. It’s also the area’s longest stretch of sand, so you’ll have plenty of space to sunbathe, play games or take a dip. You’ll find Santa Barbara Zoo and volleyball courts on its eastern edge, while California’s oldest working pier Stearns Wharf is located on its western side. Fresh seafood is served here daily and there’s also an interactive aquarium for little ones.

Show More
Show Less

Leadbetter Beach, meanwhile, is the best spot for surfing, bodyboarding and paddle-boarding. The sea’s calm enough for year-round watersports, but you should hire a wetsuit if you’re braving the water in winter. Arroyo Burro Beach is the city’s dog-friendly beach – bring a picnic and relax on the sands or in the surrounding park. When the sun goes down, Butterfly Beach in Coast Village is the best place to capture the sunsets.

Show More
Show Less

Nature

Nature in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is bordered by the vast Los Padres National Forest to the north. You might spot California condors, elk, bald eagles and endangered plants among the lakes and redwood, oak and conifer forests. Try out the Rattlesnake Canyon Trailhead, where trails for all abilities run through the scenic forest, and there are deep pools for cooling off.

Show More
Show Less

Just off Santa Barbara’s coast lies the Channel Islands National Park. Charter a private boat from Santa Barbara directly, or catch the public ferry out to Anacapa Island from nearby Ventura or Oxnard, about 30 minutes’ drive away. You can explore sea caves, snorkel in the calm waters or hike across the rugged island. Or, go for a private cruise out to Santa Barbara Island for a close encounter with sea lions on its secluded shores. Whale-watching is also popular in Santa Barbara – orca, humpback, blue, grey whales migrate through its waters in winter.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara holidays are most popular in summer, when the temperatures and ocean are at their warmest. Book your trip between June and August for the best weather, but be prepared for the beaches and streets to be very busy. Visiting in late spring or early autumn is a great choice if you’re not keen on crowds, as Santa Barbara’s Mediterranean climate means the weather is warm for most of the year.

Show More
Show Less

While December to March is the rainiest and chilliest time to visit Santa Barbara, it’s also the quietest time – so you’ll feel like you’ve got the beaches all to yourself. Plus, with an average of just six days of rainfall and temperatures that rarely dip below the low teens, the weather’s still pleasant enough for outdoor strolls.

Show More
Show Less

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Ease

Our tailor-made packages make it easy for you to discover more of the world.

Value

Whether you're looking for luxury or simplicity, we've got the perfect holiday for you.

Trust

Travelbag is fully protected by ATOL and ABTA, so your booking is completely secure.

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