What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day, California

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day

Day Trip To Santa Barbara Downtown

If you need a short getaway from Los Angeles then drive down to Santa Barbara. It is home to a lot of famous Hollywood celebrities, and maybe that's why it is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in Central California. Let's go!

We're celebrating my husband's second birthday celebration, check out what we did at his first celebration, Hang Gliding in California. We wanted to see something new and Santa Barbara was on our checklist. Los Angeles to Santa Barbara is only 90 miles away, a perfect day trip getaway for everybody.

Los Angeles to Santa Barbara Downtown

Travel time: 1 hour, depending on traffic


There are plenty of parking structures to choose from in Santa Barbara Downtown. Make sure to take a picture of where you park, the street where it's located, or find a specific landmark. We got lost here, good thing we had gelato before we went searching for our car. If you have time you can try to look for street parking so you don't have to pay for parking.

Parking rates: The first 75 minutes are free. After that, it's 2.50 USD per hour.

Things To Do In Santa Barbara For A Day

What to do in Santa Barbara for a day
Santa Barbara Downtown is a Jewel. The trees were perfectly aligned along the street that creates a beautiful shade and creative shadows for everyone to see.

Sightseeing in Santa Barbara Downtown

What to do in Santa Barbara for a day
Santa Barbara Downtown reminded me of our trip to Solvang. Solvang is considered "The Danish Capital of America" and surprisingly it's in Southern California. We had a wonderful time there and also, and my hair was longer at that time. I'm starting to miss Solvang and my long hair now.

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day
We went on a weekday and the streets were empty. I loved it! It's not like I love ghost towns or something, it's just a nice feeling to roam around a place with not much crowd. In this way, you get to see the beauty of the town, how people interact, the street art, and more.

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day
This road has been closed for vehicles to provide a wonderful ambience for restaurantgoers, and I guess the Pandemic has opened its doors to outside seating more now. There's a long stretch of restaurants to choose from here, as small shops selling clothes, souvenirs and so much more.

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day
Don't forget to check out the small roads as it leads to many surprises. This small alley leads to a Cat Cafe and a Yoga Center. 

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day
We explored Santa Barbara Downtown on foot and with our baby's stroller to protect him from the heat of the sun. It can get really hot here in California. You also have the option to bring your own bike as that will save you time from going from one place to another, or you can also Rent A Bike for your convenience.

Shopping in Santa Barbara Downtown

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day
I saw this castle-like tower at Paseo Nuevo while ordering our Gelato. There are a lot of charming things you can see aside from shops and restaurants if you just look around Santa Barbara Downtown.

Paseo Nuevo 
Location: 651 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Check out Paseo Nuevo for an outdoor shopping experience. There's a huge selection of retail shops and restaurants here.

State Street
State Street will fill you up with a lot of shopping selections, local shops and boutiques are all over this place. It's like the main shopping street when looking for clothes, arts, gifts, and even restaurants and coffee shops. 

La Arcada Plaza
Location: 1114 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101 

La Arcada Plaza offers a wide selection of restaurants, retail shops, and even art galleries. There was so much to see around here. Our main top picture shows the entrance to La Arcada Plaza. The clock standing in the middle of the sign looked very romantic to me, it matches those movies I watched when I was young when two lovers meet up and then start to dance in the rain kinda story.

Unique things to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day

Unique things to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day

Attractions and Unique Activities:

Watch A Concert
Granada Theatre
Location: 1214 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

We passed by Granada Theater a historical venue for concerts and more. If you're into concerts and orchestra this is a great place to watch them.

Architectural Tour
Santa Barbara County Courthouse 
Location: 1100 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a beautiful architectural building located in Santa Barbara Downtown. We didn't know that you could go inside the courthouse, or maybe they were still closed due to the Pandemic when we visited. They have a clock tower and mural room which is open to the public. And there's more they also offer FREE tours every day. Do check them out if you have time.

Wine tasting 
A few restaurants offer wine tasting around Santa Barbara Downtown, and if you're staying for a night this is a must-try. I remembered my husband and I did a road trip to Solvang, our plan was to go home that day but we found a wine-tasting restaurant and now there are three of us, ahahaa.

Beer Tasting 
There's also a restaurant in Santa Barbara Downtown that offers beer tasting. Don't drink and drive, stay for the night just to be safe.

Where to Eat at Santa Barbara Downtown


Location: 1230 A State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Beans BBQ LLC Santa Barbara Downtown

My husband and I are big fans of barbecue especially when we're out as we usually eat fish and chicken at home. I love the beef brisket at Beans BBQ, they were juicy and tasty.

Tony Bourdain
Inside Beans BBQ is an image of Tony Bourdain. A respectable chef who traveled the world searching for different cuisines. He has inspired me in my travels to be open-minded about different kinds of cooking and discover the real essence of food exploration. He will always be remembered. 

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day
They have a very entertaining restroom too. I loved restaurants that put a lot of effort to make their restroom look good and clean. It just means they value the customers more and they go all the way to give you a wonderful experience. It also emphasizes how they treat your food and how well they prepared it to your satisfaction.

OPPI'Z Bistro and Natural Pizza

Location: 1026 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

OPPI'Z Bistro Santa Barbara Downtown
The restaurant has a romantic ambience, it's a perfect spot for a date night and a short stop for desserts.

OPPI'Z Bistro Santa Barbara Downtown
I ordered an Affogato with Masala wine, normally I would just order an Affogato which is a vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso but I've never had it with Masala wine before. It wasn't my favorite but it was nice to try something different.


Location: 1019 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Lokum Turkish Coffee Santa Barbara Downtown

Turkish coffee always fascinates me. There's something magical in the way they prepare it. My first experience was in this small coffee shop in Hamilton, Canada during our Honeymoon. The name of the cafe was "The Nook" and the barista gave us this small unique pot with coffee on it and we poured ourselves a cup of coffee as the snow fell outside our window. The coffee was strong and warm, thou it was cold outside it melted our freezing souls and it felt great. I'll never forget that magical experience. It's like finding "Narnia" in the middle of a busy street in Canada. 

Lokum Turkish Coffee Santa Barbara Downtown
I tried the Chocolate Tiramisu Turkish Delights with my coffee. Turkish delight or also called lokum, is a sweet dessert made of sugar and a gel of starch. Lokum is also the name of the coffee shop. The Turkish delight was delightful to me but it was a perfect match for my strong Turkish coffee, they were actually a perfect match.

Lokum Turkish Coffee Santa Barbara Downtown
Nothing can beat the ambience of the coffee shop. I've never been to Turkey and my fascination is going wild thinking about the beautiful lamps and aromatic coffee they have in their country. I'm putting Turkey on my travel list now.

Tondi Gelato

Location: 401 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Tondi Gelato Santa Barbara Downtown
 A Gelato is always a good idea. What a perfect way to end our Santa Barbara trip.

What to do in Santa Barbara Downtown for a Day

Our baby is ready to go home. He didn't do much walking but this is his way of telling us that it was time to head back to the road.

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?

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