Top 20 Santa Barbara attractions

Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara has a wonderful selection of restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

The main shopping street in Santa Barbara is Union Street, running all the way to Stearns Wharf.  It has a mediterranean feel, with Spanish Colonial buildings with red tiled roofs, white stucco walls, enchanting courtyards and lush landscaping. This palm lined street has a wonderful selection of restaurants, boutiques, galleries and wine tasting rooms.

Downtown Santa Barbara was completely rebuilt after the 1925 earthquake with a strict building code that enforced a unifying hispanic style.  

5 BEST things to do in Downtown Santa Barbara 

1. East and shop along beautiful State Street. 

State Street has secluded courtyards running off it’s bustling main street. 

One of the most beautiful is La Arcada Courtyard (1114 State Street).  The courtyard has a well curated set of shops along a lane-way with bright flower pots, ivy strewn walls and red awnings.  The overhead flags add to the colorful display.  Enjoy a meal at State & Fig while overlooking the turtle fountain.  Afterwards, take a fun photo beside the bronze art statues.

2. Shop at Paseo Nuevo open air mall. 

If you need some retail therapy, then head to the open air mall Paseo Nuevo (651 Paseo Nuevo), just off State Street.  It has over 50 shops, including Aveda, Gap and Sephora, a movie theater and restaurants.  Explore the lovely paseo areas, terraces and courtyards. Climb the Spanish Stairs, then dine alfresco.

3. Climb the tower at the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

Just one block from State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, visit the Santa Barbara Courthouse (1100 Anacapa Street) often recognized as the loveliest government building in America.  The ornate, Spanish interior is stunning.  You also climb to the top of the Observation Tower for panoramic views over Santa Barbara.  Best of all it’s free!

4. Visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1130 State Street) is also on State Street.  It’s housed in an elegant building that used to be the post office.  It has a great selection of 19th and 20th Century European Art, with notable artists like Renoir, Monet and Dali.

5. Take kids to Wolf Museum of Exploration & Innovation.

Another great museum is MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration & Innovation (125 State Street).  It’s geared towards kids, with plenty of interactive exhibits.  Don’t forget to wander along the spectacular glass rooftop deck.

6. See an underground salt cave at Salt Cave Santa Barbara. 

For a completely different experience, stop by the Salt Cave Santa Barbara (740 State Street).  Prepare to be wowed by the largest underground crystal salt cave in America.  Spa services are available.

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