Santa Barbara, known as the ‘American Riviera’, is a California town that effortlessly blends the city’s early Spanish mission roots with modern-day culture. Its beautiful beaches, delightful wine country, and vibrant culinary scene make it a must-visit location. In this article, we will explore five must-do activities in Santa Barbara, California, that showcase the best this city has to offer.
1. Visit Stearns Wharf
Start your adventure with a visit to Stearns Wharf, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Built in 1872, this pier holds the title of being the oldest working wooden wharf in California. Offering majestic views of the coastline, the wharf houses several specialty stores, restaurants, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. Whether it’s engaging with marine life in the interactive exhibits or enjoying seafood al fresco, Stearns Wharf promises a day of fun in the sun for all visitors.
2. Travel Back in Time at Old Mission Santa Barbara 1786
A trip to Santa Barbara would be incomplete without exploring the city’s Spanish heritage at Old Mission Santa Barbara. Often referred to as ‘Queen of the Missions’ for its graceful beauty, this historic site dates back to 1786. Still an active parish, visitors can explore its well-preserved architecture, lush gardens, and museum showcasing artifacts from its nearly 240-year history. As you walk through the serene cemetery and mausoleum, you are reminded of the centuries of history that this mission has witnessed. Its panoramic view of the city and the sea beyond is truly a sight to behold.
3. Meet the Animals at Santa Barbara Zoo
For wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to the Santa Barbara Zoo is a must. Sprawled over 30 acres, the zoo is home to over 500 animals spanning 160 species. From African lions, giraffes, and elephants to local California condors and desert tortoises, there’s no shortage of exciting wildlife encounters here. With its impressive commitment to conservation and education, the zoo promises an engaging experience for visitors of all ages. Here, you are sure to make unforgettable memories while learning about animal behavior, endangered species, and conservation initiatives.
4. Explore the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Next on the list is the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, an enchanting 78-acre living museum dedicated to research, education, and the conservation of California’s native plant diversity. As you wander through the variety of habitats, from woodlands and chaparral to deserts, you’ll be surrounded by a spectacular display of the state’s flora. Along the five miles of nature trails, you can admire beautiful wildflowers, towering trees, and sweeping views over Santa Barbara’s stunning landscape. A visit to the garden is not only a treat for the senses but also an excellent way to appreciate California’s botanical richness.
5. Dive into the Past at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Finally, make sure to stop by the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, which offers an insight into the city’s maritime history. From the early explorations of the Chumash native people and Spanish navigators to tales of commercial and sport fishing, the museum houses a wealth of artifacts and exhibits. The museum also features a seascape theater showcasing films on local maritime history and a rotating gallery for temporary exhibitions. Besides learning about seafaring adventures, you can also enjoy stunning views of Santa Barbara Harbor and the Pacific Ocean from the museum’s patio.
In conclusion, Santa Barbara offers visitors an abundance of activities, from soaking up history and culture to interacting with wildlife and soaking up the sun at the beach. Each of these five locations provides a unique experience that, when combined, captures the eclectic mix of what Santa Barbara truly represents. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a foodie, Santa Barbara has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and start your journey to this beautiful city today!