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Top things to do and little known facts about Santa Barbara

Updated on May 11, 2009

Beautiful Santa Barbara

Wedged between the gorgeous Santa Ynez Mountains and the beautiful Pacific Ocean rests the very popular Southern California community of Santa Barbara. One visit to the area and it is easy to see why the area is referred to as the American Riviera. The beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara welcome visitors and locals year round and treat them to the kinds of sunny afternoons and warm evenings that only Southern California can provide. Santa Barbara is more than just another Southern California beach town though, it offers some of the nicer shopping, historical, and outdoor areas in the region. The Santa Barbara area has been popular with travelers as well as those seeking to relocate to the California coast for more than one hundred years. The region enjoys an incredible amount of warm weather and sunny days, which only lends to the popularity it has as a destination. The community offers some of the nicer eating establishments in the area and is a popular location for dining out and shopping by the rich and famous that reside in the region. Santa Barbara has somewhat flown under the radar when compared to the attention that the surrounding areas receive, but this makes it even more of a worthwhile destination for the discriminating tourist.

Santa Barbara Video

A very close and personal look at Santa Barbara from a native. Learn about the fun places, unique experiences that you can get from Santa Barbara.

Five Little Known Facts About Santa Barbara, California

The community of Santa Barbara, California has long been a highly respected and much sought after area to both live in and travel to in Southern California. The city offers some of the nicest beaches in the area and its location between the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean make it also one of the more scenic locations in the region. The area is unique in that though it rests on America's west coast, its coastline actually runs in the east-west directions as opposed to the north-south directions. With its close proximity to more popular destinations in Southern California like Beverly Hills, Malibu, Hollywood, and Los Angeles, the community of Santa Barbara is often overshadowed by its neighbors.

Here is a look at five little known facts about Santa Barbara, California.

1. One of the more popular beach locations in Santa Barbara is Mesa Beach located just below Shoreline Park. The wooden steps that lead down to Mesa Beach are only usable during low tide as all of Mesa Beach is submerged beneath ocean water during high tide.

2. Though Hollywood and Los Angeles are famous the world over for their associations with both the television and movie industries, during the silent film era the largest movie studio in the world was Flying A Studios located in Santa Barbara.

3. Oil was discovered in the Santa Barbara area just before 1900 and what would be the world's first offshore oil drilling development soon sprouted up and is still active today.

4. The only attack on the mainland of the United States during World War II occurred about ten miles offshore to the west of Santa Barbara when a Japanese submarine fired shells at the Elwood Oil Field.

5. Having been published since 1855, the Santa Barbara News-Press is the oldest daily newspaper located in all of Southern California.

Your Guide To The Parks Of Santa Barbara

Family Outings

When it comes to having a family outing, whether that means enjoying the beach and ocean or having a picnic lunch under an old shade tree, Santa Barbara offers a number of parks that cater to family get-togethers and excursions. Here is a look at the best parks in the Santa Barbara area for family outings:

Chase Palm Park


La Mesa

Hilda Ray

Leadbetter Beach

East Beach

Hiking and/or Biking

The parks in and around Santa Barbara offer a number of opportunities for outdoor recreation like hiking and mountain or street biking. With the warm weather that is so prevalent in the area, it is no surprise that residents and visitors to Santa Barbara cherish opportunities to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Here are the best parks in the Santa Barbara area for hiking and biking:

Douglas Family Preserve


Rattlesnake Canyon


History and Culture

Santa Barbara has a rich and distinct history when compared to many of the areas and communities that surround it. The area has been home to early Native American tribes, Spanish missionaries, westward traveling American settlers, and the men and women who eventually built the city into what it is today. Here are some of Santa Barbara's best parks in terms of historical importance and culture:


Mission Historical

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

A.C. Postel Rose Garden

Travel to Santa Barbara

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Eight Great Things To Do When Visiting Santa Barbara, California

Here are eight great things to do when visiting Santa Barbara, California:

1. Arroyo Burro Beach

Known to locals as Hendry's Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach is popular with locals and tourists alike and is really one of the nicer beach locations in the entire Santa Barbara area. There is an area nearby that is a popular dog-beach and surfers also frequent Arroyo Burro Beach. The beach sits at the foot of the fabulously beautiful Santa Barbara coastal bluffs.

2. Mission Santa Barbara

Quite possibly the most famous landmark in all of Santa Barbara, Mission Santa Barbara is one of the oldest structures in all of California. Many who have visited this mission, consider it one of the best maintained and most beautiful mission in California. Still operational today and holding weekly services, visitors can also tour the site and visit the gift shop. The twin bell towers and wonderful gardens and landscaping are truly something to behold.

Santa Barbara Mission, the 10th established California Mission.

Photo by: Fritz Liess

3. Winery Tours

With the abundance of wineries in the Santa Barbara area, there are a number of different companies offering wine tours with various themes. Take a more educational related tour or relax in a limousine tour of the local wineries, the choice is yours.

4. Stearns Wharf

One of the oldest and most beautiful wharfs in all of California, Stearns Wharf is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike. The wharf is home to a decent number of shops and eating establishments, and some of the best seafood in the area. Among one of the top restaurants you should try is Santa Barbara Shellfish company, which has been offering fresh, delicious shellfish in Santa Barbara for over 25 years

5. Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Established in 1941, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is home to one of the most extensive collections of both modern and ancient art in California. Santa Barbara Museum is considered to be one of the top 10 regional art museums in the U.S., with its collection of art that spans over two centuries. American, Asian and European works are on display. One of the key attractions to this fine art museum is a special gallery that is geared expressly towards children.

6. Segway Tours Across Santa Barbara

One of the best ways to tour Santa Barbara is through a Segway. Segway Tours in Santa Barbara offers tours with a Segway. Segways are very easy to learn and in Segway friendly Santa Barbara it's truly an enjoyable experience worth trying. Tours can range from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours depending on the type of tour you wish to take.

Tel: 1-805-963-7672

7. Santa Barbara Courthouse

With its Moorish architectural style and magnificent surrounding gardens, it is considered one of the most beautiful governmental buildings in the United States. this is definitely a Kodak moment for all to behold. Take the elevator to the top of the Clock tower for a magnificent overview of Santa Barbara. Check out the mural room to see art at its best. There is also the Sunken Garden, where many weddings are held in its green lawns surrounded by the courthouse and trees. There is a also a tour you can go through to learn about history and architecture in Santa Barbara.

Address: 1100 Anacapa Street Santa Barbara, CA 93121

Tel: 805-568-2220

Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Photo by: paulhami

8. State Street

State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara is one of the most popular places to shop, stroll and enjoy a meal in Santa Barbara. High scale malls such as Nordstrom and Saks can be found here. The street is filled with popular restaurants, shops and is a place where you can absorb the atmosphere of Santa Barbara. You can walk along and enjoy the different activities or you can take the Downtown-Waterfront Shuttles which takes you from State Street to the local wharf. While strolling through State Street, you will note that the courtyards around the malls are beautifully decorated with fountains, plants, and bronze statutes. It is great for a photo opportunity.

Picturesque Shopping Along Santa Barbara.

Photo by: Beach Cruiser

Santa Barbara is enjoyable year round and there are many who travel the roads by bycicles. The roads are very bike friendly and a very "cool" and popular way to go green in Santa Barbara.

Have you ever visited Santa Barbara? If so, please chime in. Even if you have not I hope you learned about Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Feedback

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    • chocochipchip profile image


      5 years ago

      Missing this city so much!!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Who hasn't visited Santa Barbara? One of the best cities in California. No, it isn't a metropolis with theme parks and tons of people but what it does have is character, beaches, and lots of wine with some of the most beautiful houses for miles. The food is sensational if you know where to go and the summer months are built from the sand and sunshine! I went with my family back in July and had an amazing time swimming, hiking and wine tasting. Stayed at the South Coast Inn ( A classic style and even better rooms

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am so glad I'm not the only one absoltuely obsessed with Santa Barbara. So much to offer the first time traveler or even the seasoned veteran like myself. Some big events like Solstice, Fiesta, etc, are worth going and experiencing ten times over because they are so much fun! I went this past year for Spanish Days and it was AWESOME! One of the best yet! Stayed at the Sandman Inn ( Cheap and ready to go, it was close to everywhere I wanted to go!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Honestly cannot get enough of Santa Barbara! Best beach town, wine capital, and hiking spot around. Tons too do (as listed) and just beautiful all at the same time making it that much more enjoyable. It can be a bit pricy though so pick and choose what you do and where you stay wisely! My best choice was staying at the Sandman Inn ( Great for people on a budget with great taste.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Santa Barbara is a great place to visit any time of year! I went to UCSB and I miss it so much! I love shopping downtown or wine tasting in Solvang. So much fun hiking Inspiration Point of surfing at Campus Point. We always stay at the Sandman Inn ( Really affordable (especially for SB!) and in a great location, close to everything we want to see and do.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      love to go there one day.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I grew up in Santa Barbara. Nice lens you have here, I'm lensrolling it to my Santa Barbara California lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love Santa Barbara. The weather is beautiful and the Spanish style architecture brings me memories.

    • kohuether lm profile image

      kohuether lm 

      9 years ago

      I love Santa Barbara! Informative lens - we're visiting SB soon and found your lens very helpful.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 

      9 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I loved playing on that Moreton Bay Fig Tree as a child when we passed through Santa Barbara. What a beautiful town this is! Here's a little-known fact about Santa Barbara... the children's novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, was based on a true story of a native woman who was stranded alone on an island off the coast of California, when the rest of her tribe was transported to the mainland. She lived there for nearly twenty years alone, then was discovered and relocated to Santa Barbara. She is buried in the cemetery there near Mission Santa Barbara. 5* lens, blessed. You have a great travel niche, Webcodes.


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