Some call Santa Barbara the California Riviera with its elegant,
Spanish-Mediterranean buildings filling the narrow space between the
mountains and the sea. The city boasts one of the prettiest
missions of all, a stylish downtown and a large dose of youthful spirit
from the nearby UC Santa Barbara. High on a hill, Santa Barbara
Mission overlooks the red tile roofs of the town.
This scenic drive takes in the city, the coast and a small wine
region nearby surrounded by small towns visitors will enjoy, the most
famous being Solvang, the Danish-themed village. The movie Sideways features the same area as the scenic drive to the west of Santa Barbara.
SCENIC DRIVES: Santa Barbara’s mild climate makes it a great
city for walking – especially along State Street as well as the Stearns
Wharf area. Self-guided tour maps of the Red Tile Roofs Tour are
available at visitor center near the wharf. Santa Barbara has many
attractions within the city, along with all the amenities a visitor
could want but, if time allows, explore the nearby upland towns and
wineries as part of this scenic trip.
This drive starts on State Street. Before heading towards the
ocean, consider a quick trip to see Santa Barbara Mission (take Los
Olivos 4-5 blocks towards the foothills) for a wonderful view and a
The main State St. retail and restaurant blocks are easily walkable
and full of diversions on the side streets. When you are ready, follow
State all the way to the main harbor area, Stearns Wharf, and relax on
the beach, shop, dine or walk to the marina.
Back to the road to the very scenic Shoreline Dr., heading west.
The road turns inland and connects to Cliff Dr. where you’ll turn left
and continue on Las Positas until it connects to 101 heading west
towards Goleta. Enjoy the coastside drive or stop at one of the three
state beaches along the way.
Stay on 101 as it heads north and inland toward Buellton, exiting
at Highway 246 – east to Solvang. Windmills, wooden clogs and Danish
pastry in California? You have to see it to believe it. There
is another one of the California missions here, lending a Spanish touch
to the Danish theme. Head east to 154.
SIDETRIP: At Buellton, continue on 101 to Zaca Canyon Rd, just
after the exit for 154. Follow the road to Foxen Canyon Rd and the
left on Alisos Canyon Rd. to return to 101 – a loop passing by several
SIDETRIP: Take 154 to Los Olivos and Santa Inez and watch for wineries with tours and tastings.
The drive back towards Santa Barbara passes through a bald eagle
habitat so keep your eyes on the treetops. Continue on 154 to 101 back
to Santa Barbara.
SIDETRIP: From 154 before the 101 connection, make a left on
scenic 192, Foothill Rd. for a windy drive to Montecito. At
Mission Canyon Dr. , take a left to visit the extensive Botanical
Gardens. Continue on 192 - turn left at East Drive and right on
San Ysidro to return to 101.