Before heading to Ojai for a few days I decided to take a little detour to the coast and spend the day in beautiful Santa Barbara to do a bit of exploring. I only had the day there so I made sure I did a bit of research beforehand so I knew where I was going, to allow myself maximum time for exploring. Santa Barbara isn’t that big, and is definitely somewhere you can get away with seeing most of it in a day. Here are my must see places for a whistle stop tour of stunning Santa Barbara.
The Historic Old Mission
This is definitely a must when visiting Santa Barbara. America is still a relatively new country so any chance to see something historic is an opportunity I always take. Founded in 1786, the mission is nestled against the hills and overlooks the city. You can take a self guided tour for $8, but I decided to skip it and just had a look around the beautiful grounds.
The Clock Tower in the Courthouse
This was recommended to me by my best friend, and I am so glad about it, even though it was pretty overcast and cloudy it still provided some amazing panoramic views of Santa Barbara. The courthouse itself is beautiful, and on the way up to the top you can stop in and see the bells inside the tower. There are some cool murals to check out too, as well as beautiful details like tiled staircases. Definitely worth a look, plus it’s free!
State Street is where the main hub of activity in Santa Barbara is. Full of shops and restaurants there is plenty to explore, and it’s the perfect place to mosey in and out of shops admiring the beautiful surroundings. Also there are more cool staircases nestled into the Paseo Nuevo shopping complex, which are completely Instagram worthy.
A great spot to see the ocean and look back on the city. You can wander down the pier and look in some of the touristy shops, admire the stunning beaches, grab something to eat and drink, or look around the Sea Centre. It wasn’t too busy when I visited on a Wednesday afternoon, which was perfect, but I imagine it gets very crowded in the height of summer. I walked to the end, grabbed some Salt Water Taffy and headed back to spend some time on the beach.
All in all I was pleasently surprised by how much I enjoyed my time in Santa Barbara. It didn’t sound like there was too much to do there and I was worried I was going to be easily bored and not be able to fill my day. But once I was there, I discovered it was just a really pleasant place to wander around and take it easy. Another pleasant surprise was how much free parking (for 1-2hours) there was dotted around. This made it so easy to park up and explore. A definite recommendation if you want a relaxing weekend away or a day by the sea!