Things to do in Santa Barbara

Our most recommended things to do in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara: Catamaran Sunset Cruise

1. Santa Barbara: Catamaran Sunset Cruise

Unwind with a relaxing early evening sunset cruise on the Santa Barbara Harbor. Admire the beauty of the scenery as you sail along the coast in a catamaran, then enjoy the romantic atmosphere as the sun sets over the water. Board the Double Dolphin catamaran at the meeting point and set off from Santa Barbara Harbor. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, otters, birds, and other coastal wildlife. Sit back and relax alongside friends or family, and put your feet up after a day of work or sightseeing. Marvel at the sunset views before returning to your original starting point.

Santa Barbara: Wine Country Tour

2. Santa Barbara: Wine Country Tour

Your group will be picked up by an air-conditioned van in the morning. Travel then to the first winery in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. Once there, begin wine tastings and sometimes are offered barrel room tours. On the weekdays, lunch will be served in the shade at a favorite winery or park. Your guide will pick up a delicious lunch sourced from local, fresh ingredients. Cold beverages will be provided. Visit 3 local favorite wineries in the area. Each has its unique vintages and award-winning selections. The winery staff will offer insight into specific blends and selections to our guests.

Santa Barbara: Electric Bike City Tour

3. Santa Barbara: Electric Bike City Tour

Discover the best bike routes, historical landmarks, and viewpoints of Santa Barbara on an electric bike with an expert guide. Choose between a customizable private tour or a shared group tour where a route is decided by your guide. Start with an easy stroll along the scenic Cabrillo bike path and quickly venture into the artsy area of Santa Barbara. Check out the delicious wine and dine culture of this area. Let your tour guide show you the must-see historic buildings in the heart of downtown. As you bike through downtown, enjoy a safe and spacious bike ride up and down the energetic State Street Promenade allocated for bike and pedestrian traffic only. After downtown, your guide might have a few secret gems that he or she will show you before heading back along the waterfront. The finale of this tour will take you through the bike path that winds through the Santa Barbara Harbor and along the boardwalk back to the bike shop.

Santa Barbara: Catamaran Coastal Cruise

4. Santa Barbara: Catamaran Coastal Cruise

Experience the beauty of Santa Barbara on this coastal catamaran cruise. Sail along the coast and breathe in the salt air, with the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Channel Islands surrounding you as the backdrop. Try to spot local marine and aerial life and relax in the sun with friends and family. Bask in the afternoon sun as you sail the Santa Barbara coastline on a catamaran. Climb aboard and set off, with the Santa Ynez Mountains calling in the distance. Over a dozen beaches and stunning villas line the ocean-carved coastline, making the best view of Santa Barbara, from the ocean. Enjoy a unique experience with family and friends, spotting California sea lions, otters, seals, dolphins, and many coastal birds. Lear, about local life and why this city is a popular place to visit year-round.

Santa Barbara: Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise with Bar

5. Santa Barbara: Whale Watching Catamaran Cruise with Bar

Set sail for a unique whale-watching experience in Santa Barbara. Enjoy a relaxing boat trip where you can get up close with some of the largest creatures on the planet, including Pacific grey whales, bottlenose dolphins, and California sea lions. Treat yourself to a drink from the onboard bar. Meet your guide at the harbor and climb aboard a 50' catamaran for an intimate Santa Barbara whale watching experience. Once you're settled on board, set sail to start your adventure. Every season brings something special with it and different animals to spot off the Californian coast. In winter, explore near the coast. Discover the Santa Barbara Channel, home to over 30 species of whales and dolphins. Common sightings include Pacific gray whales, common dolphins, California sea lions, and harbor seals. If you're lucky, spot orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, and pilot whales. In mid-February, spot some of the 28,000 pacific gray whales journeying through the channel on their migration north between Baja California and Alaska. See mothers and calves just a hundred yards offshore. From July through September, discover blue and humpback whales feeding on krill.

California Highlights Express: 3-Day Tour from Los Angeles

6. California Highlights Express: 3-Day Tour from Los Angeles

Discover the most iconic highlights of California, as well as some lesser-known gems, on this 3-day tour from Los Angeles. Drive the renowned 17 Mile Drive, explore Santa Barbara, and visit Yosemite Valley National Park or Hearst Castle. Enjoy 2 nights of accommodation and a bay cruise in San Fransisco included. Day 1: Los Angeles – Santa Barbara – 17 Mile Drive – Carmel Summer RouteDepart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission and learn how these religious outposts were key in the development of the entire region. Continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse in the local shops. See the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Visit the town of Carmel, home to the actor Clint Eastwood. Enjoy some free time to stroll in town before departing to reach your hotel at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Winter RouteDepart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Stop at the heart of downtown at the “state street promenade” and stroll through the exclusive shops and restaurants. Continue to Santa Barbara beaches and Stearns wharf to “walk on the water” and enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean. Finish your visit at the Spanish Mission Santa Barbara and continue to Solvang, “the Danish capital of America” a quaint Danish community at the heart of California. After your lunch break, head north through Silicon Valley before departing to reach your hotel at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Day 2: San Fransisco – Bay Cruise – Golden Gate Bridge – ChinatownSummer RouteStart your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. Enjoy great views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Next, return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Stay overnight in Modesto. Winter RouteStart your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. Enjoy great views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz island. Then return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, Chinatown, and Nob Hill. Stay overnight at the Springhill Suites Oakland Airport. Day 3: San Fransisco – Yosemite – Los Angeles Summer RouteHead east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and Half Dome. See the highest waterfalls in North America, Yosemite Falls. Then head back to Los Angeles in the evening. Winter RouteStart the day with a visit to Monterey including the wharf and Cannery Row. Continue your tour of the beautiful California Coast with a visit to the town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Then head south to the world-famous Route #1 where you'll see the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Then drive back to return to Los Angeles.

Santa Barbara: Guided Sea Lion Kayaking Tour

7. Santa Barbara: Guided Sea Lion Kayaking Tour

Explore the Santa Barbara harbor on this guided kayaking bay. Follow your guide out to look for California Sea Lions who like to visit the green navigation buoys at the entrance of the harbor. Discover iconic Santa Barbara sights like Stearns Wharf along the way.  Meet your guide and get set up with a high-quality paddle, kayak, and life jacket. Set off into the harbor on this family-friendly adventure. Expereince the joy of spotting local wildlife like playful California Sea Lions, sea gulls, and sliver fish.  Keep your things stored in the included lockers and feel free to make use of the onsite changing rooms. After your tour is over, you can stay in the harbor complex area and get some quick food, or sit down for a fish dinner at the famous Brophy Brothers.

Santa Barbara: Guided Kayak Tour

8. Santa Barbara: Guided Kayak Tour

Meet your guides at the boat launch at Santa Barbara Harbor, where they outfit everyone in paddle jackets and PFDs. Guides will give a basic paddling demonstration and safety talk before setting out on the water. The launch is easy, right out of the boat launch. This is a great introductory lesson to kayaking or a nice relaxing kayak for more experienced paddlers. Once on the water, paddle approximately 1-2 miles along the coast surrounded by beautiful beaches and marine life. The group will continue through the harbor, paddling past boats, through the historic wharf, under the pier, out to buoys, and along the beach.  Keep a look out for wildlife along the way such as harbor seals, sea lions, brown pelicans, sea stars, cormorants, and seagulls.  Guides will offer insight into the history of the region as well as local marine ecology. Enjoy a relaxed pace and incredible marine life as well as taking in the views of Santa Barbara from the water.

Santa Barbara: Santa Ynez Wine Country Shuttle

9. Santa Barbara: Santa Ynez Wine Country Shuttle

Explore some of the best wineries in the famous Santa Ynez Valley. Enjoy a tasting, glass, or bottle of wine with a pairing of various food options at each winery.Learn from discussions of local history and gain insights into the Santa Ynez wine region along the way with your knowledgeable guides. Sample Itinerary: 9:30 - 10:45 AM – pickup at hotel 11:15 AM – winery tasting 12:15 PM – winery tasting 1:15 - 2:15 PM – lunch at a winery 2:30 PM – winery tasting 4 - 4:30 PM – drop-off at your hotel

5-Day Wild West Tour From Los Angeles

10. 5-Day Wild West Tour From Los Angeles

Day 1: LOS ANGELES – SANTA BARBARA – ROUTE 1/17 MILE DRIVE – CARMEL Summer Route: Depart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Visit a Spanish Mission, then continue to Solvang, a quaint Danish community to browse the local shops. After, see the spectacular California coastline up close (small vehicles will travel the southern portion of route 1 while full-size coaches will travel the 17-mile drive exclusively). Visit the town of Carmel home and enjoy some free time to stroll in town before departing to reach your hotel overnight at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Winter Route: Depart north up the spectacular California Coast to the first stop in Santa Barbara. Start your tour and stop at the heart of downtown at the “state street promenade.” Stroll through the exclusive shops and restaurants in this beautiful part of town. Continue to Santa Barbara beaches and Stearns Wharf and finish your visit at the Spanish Mission Santa Barbara. From the mission, continue to Solvang, “the Danish capital of America.” Enjoy the Danish-style architecture while browsing in the local shops and restaurants. Then head north through Silicon Valley before departing to reach your hotel at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Oakland Airport. Day 2: SAN FRANCISCO – BAY CRUISE – GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE – CHINATOWN Start your tour at the Fisherman’s Wharf with a cruise in the world-famous bay. Marvel at views of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Return to Pier 39 for a leisurely lunch before an afternoon tour that takes in all the city’s famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Union square, and Chinatown. Summer Route Overnight: Modesto – Modesto Hotel Winter Route Overnight: San Francisco - Springhill Suites Oakland Airport Day 3 SAN FRANCISCO – YOSEMITE Summer Route: Head east through the farmlands of the Joaquin Valley to Yosemite National Park. Stop at El Capitan, Bridal-Veil Falls, and Half Dome. After a day in the park, head down to Stevenson Ranch for the evening. Winter Route: Start the day with a visit to Monterey and see the wharf and Cannery Row. Continue your tour of the beautiful California Coast with a visit to the town of Carmel-by-the-sea. Enjoy some free time to stroll in town and enjoy the beautiful boutiques and galleries. Head south to the world-famous Route #1 and spend your evening at Stevenson Ranch. Day 4: STEVENSON RANCH – LAS VEGAS Summer & Winter Route: Arrive in Las Vegas and take a tour of the strip to see some of the truly amazing hotels and fantasies that are built in the middle of the desert, such as Caesar’s Palace, Mirage, Luxor, Paris, Mandalay Bay, New York New York, Treasure Island and more. Stay overnight at Harrah’s Hotel. Day 5: LAS VEGAS – HOOVER DAM – LOS ANGELES Summer & Winter Route: After a leisurely breakfast, leave Las Vegas and make your way to the Hoover Dam. Then head west and cross back into California. Your tour ends back in Los Angeles.

Frequently asked questions about Santa Barbara

What top attractions are a must-see in Santa Barbara?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Santa Barbara?

The best day trips and excursions from Santa Barbara are:

Solvang

Other Sightseeing Options in Santa Barbara

Want to discover all there is to do in Santa Barbara? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Santa Barbara

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 119 reviews

Very accommodating business. We had a strict timeline and they went above and beyond to get us out 1 hour earlier than out scheduled appointment. The employees that we encountered were super friendly, especially Andre who visited with us until our guide Dale arrived. Dale was fantastic! He knows the city well and was full of information. He made sure that we were always safe while cycling and kept us informed of anticipated turns well in advance. He took us to Montecito at one end, to the centre of town and then to the Mission on the other side. A highlight in town was the Court House where the bell tower recently reopened and the view from there was amazing. Best day of our holiday thanks to Dale of Cal Coast Adventures.

For those, like us, who want to be amazed in a short time, this tour is ideal. I shared these moments with my 10-year-old daughter…unforgettable… The roads are long, of course, but the discovery of all these mythical places steeped in history offers us magical moments. The bus is air-conditioned, comfortable. The guides are friendly.. a small flat on the breakfasts of certain hotels which do not offer much choice.

The tour was great. Our driver Sunny was very nice. She kept everything running smoothly and was informative. My friends and I were celebrating a work anniversary and it was a perfect day. Would definitely recommend to anyone who wants a relaxing day of wine tasting in Santa Barbara.

The GPS functionality worked very well and the tour was quite interesting. I wish the additional points of interest feature worked without Wi-Fi or service and was more imbedded into the tour. Definitely worth the money!

Fantastic Sunset Cruise. The Catamaran was beautiful, and the staff was excellent. We all enjoyed the music as well!