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How to Spend 1 Day in Santa Barbara

How to Spend 1 Day in Santa Barbara

With museums, Spanish colonial sites, and gorgeous coastline, Santa Barbara offers plenty to see and do. Fortunately, it’s compact enough that you’ll be able to get a taste of what this city has to offer in just one day. Here’s how.

Morning: Go Back in Time

Start off your morning with a visit to the Old Mission of Santa Barbara, a Franciscan mission built in 1786 and arguably the city’s most important historic site. Inside the property, visitors will find art and artifacts, recreations of period rooms (including a priest’s quarters and a kitchen), and gardens and courtyards. 

From the Mission, it’s a quick jaunt north to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to experience its collection of exhibits detailing the natural life of the Santa Barbara region.

Afternoon: Head to the Beach

After visiting the museum, go straight down to Stearns Wharf to try out local seafood while taking in great views. Popular dining options include The Harbor Restaurant and the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. 

From the wharf, make your way to Leadbetter Beach, a scenic stretch of sand that’s loved by sunbathing tourists and locals alike. Here you can learn how to surf or stand-up paddleboard. Alternatively, travel west to the 15-acre Shoreline Park, which mixes manicured parklands with rugged coastline and offers views of the Channel Islands in the distance.

Night: Take In Dinner and a Show

As night falls, grab an early dinner and then head to The Granada Theatre, located downtown on State Street. Dating to the early 20th century (and extensively renovated in the late 1990s), this historic theater hosts the bulk of the city’s important cultural events: The State Street Ballet, the Santa Barbara Choral Society and CAMA, the Opera Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Symphony all operate out of the theater. 

If you’ve got energy leftover after a show, wrap up the evening with a trip to the Funk Zone, a trendy arts district full of art galleries, boutiques, breweries, and wine bars.

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13 Tours and Activities | All Santa Barbara Tours

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Santa Barbara Funk Zone Food and Photo Tour

Santa Barbara Funk Zone Food and Photo Tour

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71
Indulge your passions for food, photography and fun during this 3-hour, small-group, culinary and picture-taking tour in Santa Barbara. Dig into some tasty food and drink during stops at three different local eateries, a microbrewery, two wineries and a distillery in the city’s artsy Funk Zone. As you snack and imbibe, you’ll get helpful tips to capture high-quality food photography using anything from a smartphone to a high-end digital SLR. This small-group trip, limited to 14 guests, includes a guide and all food and drink.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$125.00
From
$125.00
Taking safety measures

Private Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour

Private Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour

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113
Explore Santa Barbara by electric bike, covering plenty of ground on a morning or afternoon excursion. Ride your easy-to-use beach cruiser to key landmarks such as State Street and the Santa Barbara Mission as your knowledgeable guide shares the city’s history during this Santa Barbara bike tour. Have your camera ready as you glide along the renowned Pacific coastline. Numbers are limited to five people, ensuring personalized attention and a small-group experience.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$95.00
From
$95.00
Taking safety measures

Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour

Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour

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298
Walk right past the crowds on this food tour in Downtown Santa Barbara. Your guide leads the way as you pop into five to six tasting locations and one wine tasting room. Savor dishes and drinks locals have made a staple in their everyday lives, and learn about other places to eat and drink during your stay. If you have any food allergies or aversions or do not drink alcohol, please let us know in advance so we can do our best to accommodate.
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  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$99.00
From
$99.00
Taking safety measures

Santa Ynez Valley Cupcake and Wine Tour

Santa Ynez Valley Cupcake and Wine Tour

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8
Cupcakes and wine—a winning combination. On this full-day tour, visit three Santa Ynez Valley wineries where you’ll enjoy tastings and education about wine production. You can also choose to break up the wine stops with an olive oil tasting, a visit to a lavender farm, or a shopping pit stop at Los Olivos General Store.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$159.00
Price varies by group size
From
$159.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Santa Barbara Trolley Tour

Santa Barbara Trolley Tour

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254
All Aboard Santa Barbara’s Original & Longest Running Trolley Tour and Charter Services See the American Riviera in 90 minutes Santa Barbara sightseeing at its finest on the original, fully narrated Santa Barbara Trolley Tour. For 30 years, we've been providing trolley tours in the Santa Barbara community. Join us as we visit local hot spots such as the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Santa Barbara Zoo, Museum of Natural History, the historic Santa Barbara Mission, and more, all fully narrated by our energetic and knowledgeable tour guides! Our pick up location is only a 5 minute walk from the train station at the Corner of Cabrillo Blvd and State St, Stearns Wharf.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$25.65
From
$25.65
Taking safety measures

Santa Barbara Vineyard to Table Taste Tour by Bike

Santa Barbara Vineyard to Table Taste Tour by Bike

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54
Ride through the towns and vineyards of the Santa Ynez Valley wine region on this bike tour with transport from Santa Barbara. With a guide, you'll pedal a specialized hybrid bike to a winery and other spots for wine tastings, an olive-oil tasting, and an Italian-inspired picnic lunch. A bike tour allows you to enjoy better views of the scenery than from inside a car, and three distance options are available to suit your ability and preference.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$161.54
From
$161.54
Taking safety measures

Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide

Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide

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59
This private Santa Barbara kayaking tour lets you explore the marine life and landmarks of Santa Barbara Harbor and the spectacular coastline on the ‘American Riviera’ along one of four different routes. Take in views of rugged shoreline cliffs and the Santa Ynez Mountains, and be on the lookout for dolphins and seals. This 1.5- to 2.5-hour tour is led by an experienced kayak guide who points out natural features and customizes the speed of the ride according to your skill level.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$60.00
From
$60.00
Taking safety measures

Surf Lesson in Santa Barbara

Surf Lesson in Santa Barbara

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14
There’s hardly a better place to learn to surf than the Southern California locale of Santa Barbara, which offers fantastic weather year-round. During this 1.5-hour lesson, an expert instructor shows you how to stand up on your surfboard and balance, offering tips on how to catch the perfect wave while ensuring your safety in the water. Wetsuit and surfboard rental are included, and all skill levels are welcome.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$85.00
Price varies by group size
From
$85.00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Ynez Valley

All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Ynez Valley

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27
The Vineyard Picnic Tour is an all-inclusive wine tasting tour featuring three wineries in Santa Barbara Wine Country, in the Santa Ynez Valley. Join in with other like-minded wine enthusiasts for a relaxing day among the vineyards, sampling wines, seeing the wine making process, and savoring a picnic lunch at one of the wineries. A catered picnic lunch, served at a winery, is included.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$145.67
From
$145.67
Taking safety measures

Private Santa Barbara Small-Production Wine Tour

Private Santa Barbara Small-Production Wine Tour

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14
There are plenty of Santa Barbara winery tours that revolve around popular commercial wineries, but this tour offers the chance to try something a bit more exclusive. Instead of standing at the bar of a crowded cellar door for your tasting, enjoy seated one-on-one tastings at a series of private small-production wineries. Customize your itinerary based on your own tastes and interests, and learn the secrets behind the wines on behind-the-scenes tours of those vineyards and barrel rooms.
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  • 5 to 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$381.42
Price varies by group size
From
$381.42
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Personalized and Guided Hiking, Biking, Rock Climbing or Tennis Adventure

Personalized and Guided Hiking, Biking, Rock Climbing or Tennis Adventure

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2
Whether you are in town for the day from nearby Los Angeles or Santa Barbara or planning an anniversary or birthday celebration for two or looking for a group activity for your company, yoga retreat, wedding party, family reunion or team building, Trails by Potter is the guiding company for you, whether it is for hiking, biking, rock climbing or tennis! We use the finest equipment, provide snacks and water for all activities and add personal touches: from meeting you at your hotel, helping you choose hotel and dinner reservations, offering referrals to massage therapists and spa treatments to recommending ‘not-to-miss’ Ojai places and moments.Trails by Potter will accommodate any level of fitness from beginner to moderate exerciser to weekend warrior and anyone in between. Many of our repeat customers will plan multiple activities during their week or weekend stay.
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  • 2 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$160.00
From
$160.00
Taking safety measures

Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country

Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country

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15
Visit wineries that are not open to the public on this exclusive wine tasting tour. Drive through the scenic Santa Ynez Valley and visit small, family-owned establishments where you’ll taste wines and visit barrel rooms, often with the owners themselves. There’s never any standing at a crowded bar with other guests—all tastings are seated and private.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$172.92
From
$172.92

Happy Ghost Walking Tour at Santa Barbara

Happy Ghost Walking Tour at Santa Barbara

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5
Welcome to the city of Friendly Ghosts! A perfect way to end your evening is with a docent-led ghost tour. Our 1 hour and 30-minute walking tours have curated content from first-hand accounts. You'll hear stories from as far back as the Old Spanish Days and from the different cultures that have called Santa Barbara home. This tour is a traditional history and ghost/legend walking tour. Your guide has a diverse background as being once a tour guide on the Queen Mary and now a docent Old Mission Santa Barbara. This tour is organic and enchanted and not script-based. Each tour is unique and filled with imagination and at times encounters with visiting ghosts. Our ghosts do not come to stay...they return (many times during your tour) for a sentimental holiday. Are you ready to see a side of Santa Barbara that most visitors miss?
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$45.00
From
$45.00
Taking safety measures