24 hours in santa barbara
shoreline park beach in santa barbara
Not only am I fortunate to have my mom living in California just a few hours away, but she happens to live in one of my favorite places, Santa Barbara. It’s so fun to visit and explore the beaches, new restaurants, hikes, and views of the gorgeous coastline. The vibe in SB is quintessential California- laid back but stylish, beachy but sophisticated, and the architecture is historical Spanish style, with trendy new areas adding to the mix.
You could easily spend a week in Santa Barbara and not get bored, but I’ve summed up below a pretty solid way to spend a day if that’s all you have (SB makes for a GREAT stop on a California coastal road trip as it’s directly off the 101).
Drive South down the 101 to a charming artist community on the beach called Summerland. Rich in history and culture, it’s truly a special little town with a lovely beach to boot. Grab breakfast in an old victorian home at the Summerland Beach Cafe and walk across the street for a beach walk. Come back and walk to the Zen Center, a local marvel caring curated with crystals, decor, and good vibes. It features an editorial-worthy back yard with a stream and several meditation spots. A true hidden gem.
the zen center in summerland
Head back to the heart of SB and explore State Street, which runs perpendicular into the ocean and beyond into a pier. There’s over 15 blocks of shopping and dining, but I always make a point to stop into Celadon House. After you work up an appetite, check out the public market for some artisanal bites. Lastly, a stop to SB wouldn’t be complete without appreciating the beautiful Spanish architecture. One of these marvels is a block away from state, the Courthouse.
One of the newest spots in SB is down State closer to the pier and is known as the Funk Zone. There are wine bars, pubs, antique stores, artist galleries, and some inspiring street art. Make sure to visit the Blue Door and Cabana Home if you’re still in the mood to shop. Next, treat yourself for a drink at the Lucky Penny or The Lark and enjoy the hip but casual atmosphere and rustic decor. End the day with a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants; there are too many to try to list here, but locals always love being asked for recommendations! Some of my favorites on State are Arigato for upscale sushi, and Chuck's Grill for California fare.
Lastly, there are many great places to stay the night. Hotels aren’t cheap in Santa Barbara, especially as you get closer to downtown or the beach. If you’re looking to splurge, definitely consider Bacara or El Encanto (and stay for a morning spa treatment at either!). Closer to state street, it’s hard to beat the proximity and style of the Canary.
Have you visited, or do you live in Santa Barbara? Share some of your “must do”s and “must see”s below in the comments!