Photograph by Premium UIG, Getty Images
Read Caption

Rows of Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines cover the Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, California.

Photograph by Premium UIG, Getty Images

Everything to Know About Santa Barbara

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to the American Riviera.

The casual beach vibe spills over from the golden sands into the city of Santa Barbara, California, with its small-town feel where locals greet each other and visitors alike. Santa Barbara is known as the American Riviera because of its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, heritage, food and wine scene, natural beauty, and nearly perfect weather.

When to Go

With an average of 300 days of sunshine annually, a moderate climate with daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, cool evening temperatures, and about 18 inches of rainfall annually, Santa Barbara is an ideal destination any time of the year.


Santa Barbara is a city that likes to celebrate, which is evident from myriad festivals held throughout the year. A few that draw big crowds are the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (January), the I Madonnari Italian Street Festival held each Memorial Day Weekend (May), and, of course, wine festivals. One not to miss is Old Spanish Days Fiesta (August), which dates back to 1925 and is a chance for the city to celebrate its cultural heritage.

What to Eat

On Saturday mornings, venture out to Stearns Wharf for the Santa Barbara Fishermen’s Market and sample a freshly cracked sea urchin, or uni, a local delicacy. The lightly briny urchin has a texture similar to paté, and the taste will likely have you searching it out in dishes created by local chefs such as uni carbonara, or simply atop a slice of fresh sourdough toast.

Souvenir to Take Home

Take a piece of Santa Barbara’s beachy vibe back home with you with a pair of SeaVees. The “comfortable sneaker with the sophistication of a dressier shoe” got its start here in 1964 and its casual style, just like Santa Barbara, has never gone out of, well, style.

Sustainable Travel Tip

It’s easy to leave the car behind at your hotel when you visit Santa Barbara. Lace up your shoes and hit the pavement in this walkable city where pedestrians seemingly rule the roadways. Or, take to wheels and rent a bike for a ride-about. Whether walking or bicycling, be sure and check out the three-mile, paved Cabrillo Bike Path along Cabrillo Boulevard that crosses over three downtown beaches.

Instagram-Worthy View

When it comes to sharing your snaps with friends and followers on Instagram, there’s no shortage of spots on which to focus. To get you started, Visit Santa Barbara has listed 10-plus of their favorite Instagram-worthy spots. Locals know, however, that you can’t beat a Santa Barbara sunset at Stearns Wharf, which has been a part of the landscape here since 1872.