The Ultimate Guide to Santa Barbara in a Weekend
Lots of busy people forget that you can do a lot of quality traveling over a weekend. Of course, long road trips and overseas expeditions can be incredible, but a weekend getaway can sometimes be just as meaningful.
For an amazing weekend vacation in Santa Barbara, we’ve put together a flexible itinerary including where to stay, things to do, and where to eat, even if you’ve only got from Friday night through sunset on Sunday.
Check into Your Hotel
There are so many gorgeous places to stay in Santa Barbara. From luxury resorts like San Ysidro Ranch and Four Seasons’ The Biltmore to quaint bed and breakfasts like The Simpson House, there are options for every personality and budget in Santa Barbara.
Perhaps you’d rather book an Airbnb or try some “glamping” at El Capitan. Really, there’s no wrong way to stay in Santa Barbara.
Hit the Town
Santa Barbara has an incredible nightlife. It is a college town after all, so there are countless bars and wineries that can show you a good time. Head to The Red Piano and dance the night away or taste a flight of local wine at Municipal Winemakers.
Saturday in Santa Barbara
To start your first full day in Santa Barbara, grab a quick bite to eat before commencing on your jam-packed weekend. Enjoy an incredible latte and some avocado toast at Handlebar Coffee Roasters or simply indulge in breakfast at your hotel.
Hike Inspiration Point
Before the weather warms up too much, strap on your boots and hit the trail. Hiking is something you just have to do in California and Inspiration Point is one of those iconic peaks that’s not to be missed.
From start to finish, the hike is only three and a half miles round trip. So you’ll be able to enjoy the view, get some exercise, and breathe some fresh air while still having plenty of time for the rest of your day.
Hit the Beach
After the hike, you’re probably in the mood to relax. Santa Barbara has some of the most beautiful beaches in California. They’re perfect for rinsing off, cooling down, and basking in the sun.
The best beaches in Santa Barbara include:
- Ledbetter Beach
- Hendry’s Beach
- Butterfly Beach
- East and West Beaches
Best Places to Get Lunch
By this point, you’ll be ready for lunch. No matter where you go, you’re likely to find some delicious grub. Try Lily’s Taqueria for cheap tacos or Brophy Brothers for classic fish and chips on the water.
Goat Tree, Savoy, State & Fig, and Mony’s Mexican Food are some other fantastic choices for lunch in Santa Barbara.
Explore the Funk Zone
Yes, the Funk Zone is a real place. In fact, it’s the trendiest neighborhood in all of Santa Barbara and it should definitely be on your list of things to do while visiting.
Spend the afternoon biking through the area where you’ll stumble upon art studios and galleries, bohemian boutiques, and the hippest cafes and restaurants around.
The Funk Zone is also considered Santa Barbara’s urban wine trail with everything from tasting rooms, wine bars, and breweries. It’s definitely a great place to get lost in the area.
Sunday in Santa Barbara
Check out a Farmer’s Market
There’s nothing quite like a slow Sunday morning stroll. Check out of your hotel, drop your bags off with a luggage storage service in Los Angeles, and start your day at the farmers market.
With fresh produce at every turn, food vendors serving coffee and artisanal snacks, and craftsman offering handmade jewelry and art, there’s lots to see at the markets. It’s a wonderful and relaxing way to begin your final day in Santa Barbara.
After walking through the market, it’s time for brunch. Make a reservation and stay awhile. Some of the hottest brunch spots in Santa Barbara include:
- Sevens in the Funk Zone
- Finch & Fork at the Kimpton Canary Hotel
- Boathouse at Hendry Beach
From bottomless mimosas to spiked milkshakes, a nice, long brunch in Santa Barbara gives Los Angeles a run for its money.
Shop State Street
Nestled in downtown Santa Barbara you’ll find State Street. Spend the early afternoon wandering through its cobblestone streets while window shopping and doing your best not to max out the credit card.
State Street has both well-known stores and indie boutiques. It’s the perfect way to walk off your brunch while you grab some souvenirs and gifts.
El Presidio Historic Park and Mission Santa Barbara
You’ll notice white stucco walls and red tile rooves all throughout Santa Barbara. The region has deep ties with the Spanish and you can see it in this architecture. It’s even been called the Spanish Riveria of America.
Dive deeper into Santa Barbara’s Spanish roots by visiting El Presidio Historic Park. Built way back in 1782, El Presidio is the last-standing Spanish military site on the California coast. It’s such an interesting place that they’ve turned it into a museum for visitors to brush up on their history.
Then, explore Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786. You’ll see artwork and architecture that will only add to your appreciation for the city. They’re both spots you definitely won’t want to miss on your weekend in Santa Barbara.
Dinner the Santa Barbara Way
Your weekend trip to Santa Barbara is drawing to a close, so make the most of it with dinner at a local spot.
For top-rated Mexican food, better go to Los Agaves. For steak, check out Lucky’s. Great seafood can be found at The Lark and The Nook serves up all your BBQ favorites. Take it back in time with Santa Barbara’s Spanish roots and enjoy tapas at Loquita. Or, if you’re vegetarian, Olivers will be a treat.
Is there anything better than ending a trip with some amazing food? We think not.