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Santa Barbara Itinerary : Perfect 2 Days In Santa Barbara

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Planning a trip to Santa Barbara? We have the perfect Santa Barbara itinerary that will help you make the most of your short visit. Read on for the best things to do, where to stay and more insider tips.

Santa Barbara is a hidden gem of California, just one and a half hours away from the famous Los Angeles city. It has become a home town for celebrities through decades. Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres have a home here. Meanwhile, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and Prince Harry also chose this city for the upbringing of their babies. But what is so unique about this city is that it has become everyone’s favourite throughout the years. The one thing that I can promise you is, it is far away from the hustle and bustle of the city and offers a more serene neighbourhood.

Santa Barbara

But this is not the only reason that it has become the A-listers favourite, there are so many more. To make you walk through the exquisite history of the region and the picturesque views that this land offers, here is a Santa Barbara itinerary of two days for your humble visit.

Santa Barbara Itinerary : Top Things To Do In 2 Days

Day 1 : Old Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Museum Of Art, Santa Barbara Zoo, Funk Zone


Tour The Old Mission Santa Barbara

Old Mission Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara Itinerary
Old Mission Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Itinerary

Let’s start the trip with more grounding energy while visiting the historical landmark of Santa Barbara called the Old Mission Santa Barbara. It is a significant institute for all the native Americans settled in Santa Barbara. The huge white walls with golden pillared entrances and golden domes on each side of the terraces surrounded by the Mediterranean flora of the Santa Barbara land makes it a must-visit sight. Inside, you will find the serenity and piousness of the church reflecting the golden lights through its windows and the colourful ceilings.

The church stands with its historical significance through decades and welcomes visitors from across the globe with open arms. It is also known as “The Queen of the Missions” for its outstanding beauty. This is the best place to start your visit by aligning your body with the soul.

  • Opening Hours : 9:30 AM to 4 PM

Visit The Santa Barbara Museum Of Art

Once you start feeling more of yourself, what is better than to find yourself in the lap of the modern art of the place. Hence, the next stop in your Santa Barbara itinerary must be the Santa Barbara Museum of Art which is not only known for its collection of modern art but is also well-known for its architecture and the unique way.

If you are in luck while on the tour through history, you might enjoy the collection with a fine touch of Jazz. Several bands play Jazz at the museum from time to time. I am sure this would make for one exquisite experience for you. The collection here does not only limit to American civilization but extends to European and French revolutions.

  • Opening Hours : The museum opens from Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 5 PM but the timings differ on Thursday ranging from 11AM to 8 PM. The museum also remains closed on national holidays including Mondays throughout the year.

Take a lunch stop at Benchmark Eatery which is closely located to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The food and the views of the State Street are both spectacular.

Afternoon : Take A Stroll Through The Santa Barbara Zoo

If you have been bored by listening to the noises in the city and want to spend some time among nature and its marvellous creations then your next destination (of course after lunch) must be Santa Barbara Zoo. As you learn the history of the Santa Barbara Zoos, you gradually realize the amalgamation of the humans and nature taking place here in this vicinity. These acres of land were once owned by a tea and a coffee merchant but now it is a home for the species which are rare and endangered not only on this continent but around the world.

Here, you will be friends with Gibbons, Snow Leopards, Giraffes and Gorillas. Some unexpected ones like the African Lions and Fennec Foxes would be a delight to your eyes here.

  • Opening Hours : The zoo remains open seven days a week 9:30 AM to 5 PM. The ideal time you can spend here would be one to two hours approximately.

Evening : Stop By Funk Zone For Drinks

As you will end your first day, you might require a regional drink at the golden hour. The best place would be the Funk Zone. It is at the lower State Street just in front of the waterfront. The graffitied walls and the nearby streets lined up with the local shops offer you to buy multiple memoirs as you end your evening by wine at the Funk Zone. Don’t forget to click pictures here which will blast off on your social media account. 

To experience the best of through food, drinks and photography, check out this fantastic tour which is inclusive of all the tastings (food & beverages) plus photo tricks and tips from a pro.

After that, you can have dinner at the nearby place called The Lark which happens to be a luxurious five-star hotel for your last meal of the day.

Day 2 : Lotusland Of Santa Barbara, Country Courthouse, The Valley Project, Stearns Wharf, Goleta Beach Park


Take A Leisurely Stroll Through Lotusland Of Santa Barbara

Lotusland is named among the ten best gardens in the world. Spread into the area of over 37 acres with lush green vegetation, ponds and Japanese styled water reservoirs. The history of this land goes back to being a private property owned by the well-known opera singer Madame Ganna Walska in 1941. She created the wonderful garden that we see today including the plantation of all the flora that is a part of the land and the tiny water bodies spread in the park to enhance the natural beauty of the place.

Admire The County Courthouse

County Courthouse - Santa Barbara Itinerary
County Courthouse – Santa Barbara Itinerary

The county courthouse at Santa Barbara seems like any other building from the outside. All the houses here would have white walls and brown slopes as roofs, however, as you go inside the courthouse you will be transported to a different world of art and culture altogether. The four buildings including the clock tower make up for one huge country courthouse.

Though it is still a functioning building, certain parts of the monument are still open for visits. There might be certain restrictions to visit in the interior parts of the courthouse considering the renovations and the pandemic restrictions. Meanwhile, the exterior of the courthouse is equally beautiful and Insta-worthy for you.

  • Opening Hours : As the restrictions subside the regular visiting hours would remain 8 AM to 5 PM on weekdays as well as 10 AM to 4:30 PM on weekends.


Check Out The Valley Project

Santa Barbara has many joints where you can taste wine. The special thing about the valley project is that here they not only sell wines of different kinds but are in direct contact with the wine yards situated right outside the city. Therefore, if I have to suggest a place to have fresh wines directly from the farms then here you are at the Valley Project. If you are lucky enough to reach the spot during the wine tasting hours, you are definitely in for a delightful treat.

The Santa Barbara community welcomes you with open arms during these hours. You might find people talking about the history of the city and their time spent in the city through the generations. Imagine, listening to the old stories while sipping the fresh wines of miscellaneous kinds.

  • Opening Hours : The Valley Project remains open throughout the year, all the days of the week in the hours falling from 12 noon to 7 in the evening.

Visit The Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf - Santa Barbara Itinerary
Stearns Wharf – Santa Barbara Itinerary

For my readers who prefer scenic views and calmer beach sites then the Stearns Wharf is a perfect destination for you in your Santa Barbara Itinerary. Take a long walk on the wooden bridge with sea and sand on either side of the way. Take yourself for a spoiled eating binge on a small quarter in between of the bridge. As you stand on the wooden board watching the water streams. You will find yourself enclosed among beautiful scenic mountains and long palm trees lining your way as far as your sight can go.

With cold breeze simply soothing your skin at the golden hour when the sun leaves you with the right amount of warmth. This place would feel like a paradise and an out of body experience if you intend to visit here.

Evening : Chill Out At Goleta Beach Park

While Stearns Wharf may give you a more elite experience. The Goleta Beach Park is for my enthusiastic readers who want to feel the sand between their toes and the air in their hair while meditating on the sea when tides sweep their feet time and time again. The Goleta Beach Park is a place for extroverted adventure enthusiasts. This attribute can be credited to the number of water activities that the park board offers here including kayaking, stand up paddleboard rentals etc. 

As this is going to be your last day on the beautiful land of Santa Barbara, you can also choose to sunbathe while binging on a delicious barbeque available at your service on the beach. Due to its area which spreads over 29 acres, don’t worry about finding a peaceful place, you will have it.

General Information – Santa Barbara Itinerary

Where To Stay In Santa Barbara?

The coolest places to stay in Santa Barbara are in the downtown area. Its nearby to the beach, shopping arenas and wide variety of eateries which include everything from food trucks to high end restaurants. Due to the central location your stay might be a little bit pricey in downtown Santa Barbara. But you can still find cheaper options along the West Beach which is a short walking distance (<2km) away from downtown Santa Barbara.

Below are our top recommendations for a comfortable stay in Santa Barbara;

Budget (upto $100) : Located in the West Beach, the Castillo Inn at the Beach offers an affordable stay to budget travellers in Santa Barbara. The hotel features clean, comfortable and cozy rooms well equipped with all the necessary amenities. Family rooms are available too. The staff is very helpful and friendly. Other facilities include free parking space and WiFi connectivity. Click here to book your stay or to check the hotel’s availability.

Mid Range ($100-$150) : The Best Western Plus features amazing facilities at a fair price. Its central location is a plus. The hotel features spacious and comfortable rooms filled with all the convenient amenities such as mini refrigerator, coffee maker, well equipped modern bathroom and ironing facilities. The hotel also has an outdoor garden, a wellness center, a swimming pool and an on-site restaurant with a full room service menu. Parking space, airport shuttle service and WiFi is available free of cost for the guests. Click here to book your stay or to check the hotel’s availability.

Luxury ($150+) : Want to be treated like a celebrity where luxury seems to have no bounds? Then, El Encanto will check all the boxes of luxury for you in Santa Barbara. This world class boutique hotel is located at 5 minutes drive from central Santa Barbara. The rooms are beautifully designed with amenities like a minibar, fireplace, seating area and garden views.

The hotel boasts facilities such as complimentary breakfast, free WiFi, swimming pool, fitness center, excellent spa services, restaurant and bar. Babysitting and childcare services are also available at the hotel. So, if you are up for some splurging, look no further, your stay at El Encanto will be all worthy of it. Click here to book your stay or to check the hotel’s availability.

How To Get Around Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara’s MTD buses (public transit buses) are easily available and can take you to almost everywhere in the city. In addition to this a fun way of exploring the streets of Santa Barbara is through bike rides. It is one of the most bike friendly cities in California. You can find a rental bike here.

Alternatively, for utmost convenience and to save time, you can also book Uber/Lyft cabs to get around Santa Barbara.

Here you have it, our 2 days in Santa Barbara itinerary for you. We are sure you will have a fantastic time in this beautiful city. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to write to us in the comments section below. Happy and safe travels!

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Anjali Wadhwa (cheerfultrails) is a travel consultant and enthusiast who has traveled to 15+ countries. She shares about her explorations through her writings. You will find detailed itineraries, best travel tips and well experienced recommendations for food, transportation and hotels on her blog.

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