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A pelican near Stearn's Wharf at the base of State Street


Top Destinations  ·  Southern California  ·  Santa Barbara Coast

Santa Barbara Coast - Montecito - Santa Ynez

Santa Barbara has an upscale, elegant feel. Positioned on an idyllic and relatively calm portion of the California coast, the surrounding hills and Santa Ynez Mountains suggest European origins. Santa Barbara’s Spanish-Mediterranean architecture of while stucco and red tile roofs seems perfect for the balmy, oceanside climate. Lucky University of California Santa Barbara students from the nearby campus mix with wealthy retirees for an unusual demographic profile.

Local Cities & Towns

Wernher Krutein/photovault.com

Santa Barbara is an elegant town framed by the ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains

With many beaches along the Santa Barbara County coast, any visit should include some time on the sand. Santa Barbara has a two-mile coastal pathway that is ideal for strolling or cycling. Stearn’s Wharf is a lively spot waterfront, with shops and restaurants near the pier. State Street is the main avenue for restaurants and shops.

Santa Barbara County is worth exploring for great hiking, wine touring, wildlife viewing and mountain biking, as shown on the scenic drive map below.

Some of the highlights of this destination include:

Attractions: State Street (main shopping avenue), Stearn’s Wharf, Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara County wineries (near Santa Ynez and Los Olivos, Moreton Bay Fig Tree, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Santa Barbara Musuem of Art, Santa Barbara Musuem of Natural History, Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens, Santa Barbara Historical Museum, UC Santa Barbara

Towns: Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta, Santa Ynez, Solvang

Beaches: Cabrillo Beach, Hendry’s Beach, Refugio State Beach, Gaviota Beach, Goleta Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach, El Capitan State Beach

National Forests: Los Padres National Forest

State Parks: Gaviota State Park

Santa Barbara Coast Scenic Drives

Scenic Drive
Santa Barbara
Destination Index Print/Zoom

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 history lesson.

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 famous wineries.

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.


Wernher Krutein/photovault.com
Keeping cool near the beach

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