Exploring Santa Barbara: Top Attractions | Langhorne Group

Tuesday, May 10, 2022   /   by Sofie Langhorne

Exploring Santa Barbara: Top Attractions | Langhorne Group

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Santa Barbara is an idyllic coastal town in Southern California that offers residents and visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. From hiking and biking trails to world-famous beaches, Santa Barbara has something for everyone. In addition, the city's charming downtown area is home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and cafes. Here are some of the top attractions in Santa Barbara that you won't want to miss!

Mission Santa Barbara

Located just a short drive from Santa Barbara, Mission Santa Barbara, known as "The Queen of the Missions," is a popular tourist destination for history buffs and curious explorers alike. The mission was founded in 1786 by Father Fermin Lasuen (Spanish missionaries), and it soon became one of the largest and most prosperous of the California missions. Today, the mission is a beautiful landmark that stands as a testament to the state's rich history. Visitors can explore the grounds, including a church, cemetery, Garden, and museum. Mission Santa Barbara is also home to a number of unique events, programs, and its well-preserved adobe walls and classic Spanish architecture make it an ideal attraction for tourists and locals alike. Exploring this neighborhood's past and wanting to enjoy a day in the sun, Mission Santa Barbara is sure to please.

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park

Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is a small park in Santa Barbara. The park is home to a large rock shelter with extensive Native American rock art. The cave was once an important site for the Chumash people, and it contains some of the best-preserved examples of Chumash rock art in existence. Today, the cave is open to the public and is a popular attraction. Visitors can explore the cave and learn about its history and culture. 

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is one of the most popular attractions in Santa Barbara. Visitors come from all over to explore the beautiful Spanish-style building, which houses several courtrooms and a museum displaying several public artworks, including a stunning mosaic by famous artist State Legislator Hiram Graybill. Additionally, it is a popular spot for weddings, thanks to its stunning setting and historical significance. Built in 1929, the courthouse is one of the oldest public buildings in Santa Barbara. It was designed by local architect George Washington Smith, who drew inspiration from the Spanish missions that dot the California coast. Today, the courthouse is a National Historic Landmark.

Santa Barbara Beaches

Santa Barbara's beaches offer something for everyone, from secluded coves perfect for a romantic picnic to family-friendly stretches with plenty of room to build sandcastles. There's no shortage of ways to enjoy the sunny California weather, with over twenty beaches to explore stretching approximately 100 miles/160 kilometers of south-facing, scenic shoreline. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, surf, fish, kayak, etc. Many of these beaches are also home to popular restaurants and bars, making it easy to spend a day (or a whole vacation) enjoying the sand and the sea. All the beaches have in common is their natural beauty; each is pristine and offers stunning views. 

Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a world-renowned attraction loved by locals and tourists. Situated on 30 acres of land, the zoo is home to over 500 animals from more than 140 different species. Visitors can explore the zoo's many exhibits, including tropical rainforest, an African savannah, and an Asian forest. The zoo also offers a variety of events and educational programs throughout the year. It is a great place to explore and learn about the animal kingdom.

Whale Watching Tours

Santa Barbara is one of the best places to go whale watching. Every year, hundreds of whales migrate along the California coast, and Santa Barbara offers some of the best vantage points for spotting them. There are several whale watching tour operators in Santa Barbara, and they offer a variety of different ways to explore this fantastic attraction. From boat tours to kayak excursions, there's something for everyone. And during peak whale season, there are often special events and educational programs offered to help visitors learn more about these majestic creatures. 

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Sea Center

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the area. Briefly known as Ty Warner Sea Center, located on Stearns Wharf, it offers visitors the opportunity to explore the aquatic world through hands-on exhibits and live demonstrations. The Sea Center is home to more than 250 species of marine life, including sharks, stingrays, and octopuses. Visitors can also touch live sea stars and sea urchins in the tide pool touch tanks. In addition to its many interactive exhibits, the Sea Center also offers daily educational programs such as animal feedings and behind-the-scenes tours. A tour of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is sure to be an enjoyable experience for all.

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is a hands-on museum that encourages visitors to explore, create, play and have fun. With interactive exhibits and a focus on STEAM education, MOXI is a unique attraction for curious minds of all ages. Families can enjoy spending time together in the Discovery Zone, where they can explore the museum's many exhibits. Older kids and adults can explore their creativity in the Maker Studio, where they can build and experiment with new technologies. And everyone can have fun in the Mousetrap Cafe, where they can play classic games and enjoy tasty snacks. MOXI is the perfect place to explore your creativity while having fun.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is one of the leading art museums in California. Founded in 1914 and located in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara, the museum offers a collection of over 30,000 works of art spanning from antiquity to the present day. Visitors can explore the museum's many galleries, which feature both temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection. It is also home to an extensive education program that provides workshops and classes for children and adults. 

Paseo Nuevo and State Street Shopping

For those looking to explore the various shops that Santa Barbara offers, Paseo Nuevo and State Street are two great places to start. Paseo Nuevo is home to a variety of stores, ranging from high-end brands to more affordable options. In addition, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat, whether you're in the mood for a casual coffee or a sit-down meal. On the other hand, State Street is known for its unique boutiques and independent stores. Here you'll find everything from vintage clothing to local art, making it the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind item. Explore and shop 'til you drop in these places located right in downtown Santa Barbara. 

Santa Barbara Maritime & Santa Barbara Harbor

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the maritime history of Santa Barbara, California. Visitors can explore the museum's exhibits and artifacts, which tell the story of the region's rich maritime heritage. The museum also hosts various events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and boatbuilding classes.

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located in the historic Santa Barbara Harbor. The harbor is home to many businesses and activities, including a seafood market, charter fishing boats, and a public boat launch. Visitors can also enjoy picnicking, swimming, and windsurfing at the harbor.


Lotusland is a non-profit botanical garden located in Santa Barbara, California. The Garden is home to over 3000 plants, including a wide variety of exotic and native species. It was founded in 1984 by the late Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer and botanical enthusiast. Walska's vision was to create a living museum where people could learn about and appreciate the beauty of plants worldwide. Today, Lotusland is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Santa Barbara, and it continues to inspire visitors with its stunning gardens and diverse plant collection.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a must-see for any nature lover. Situated on 78 acres of land, the Garden is home to more than 1,000 species of plants, many of which are native to California. Visitors can explore a variety of different gardens, including a desert garden, a redwood forest, and a meadow filled with wildflowers. In addition to being a beautiful place to explore, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is also an important research center. Scientists from all over the world come to study the Garden's unique plant life, and the Garden's herbarium contains more than 250,000 specimens.

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Site

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Site is a great place to explore California's rich history. The Presidio, or fort, was built by the Spanish in 1782 and was the last stop on the El Camino Real, the road that connected California's 21 missions. As the last standing Spanish Presidio in California, it offers a unique opportunity to explore the state's colonial past. The site includes a variety of attractions, such as the restored Presidio Chapel and the El Cuartel de Santa Barbara, which is the only remaining adobe structure from the original Presidio. Visitors can also learn about the daily life of the soldiers who lived at the Presidio by exploring the Living History Center. With its rich history and variety of attractions, El Presidio de Santa Barbara is an essential stop for anyone exploring early California.

El Paseo

Santa Barbara is a beautiful city located on the California coast. One of the best ways to explore Santa Barbara is walking along El Paseo, a pedestrian-friendly street lined with shops and restaurants. El Paseo is also home to Santa Barbara's most popular attractions, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Whether you're looking for a place to shop, dine, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of Santa Barbara, El Paseo is the perfect place to start your exploration.

If you're looking for a beautiful and idyllic place to call home, Santa Barbara should definitely be at the top of your list. With its stunning coastal views, the abundance of outdoor activities, and charming downtown area, this California town has all you want. And if you're interested in learning more about Santa Barbara or need help finding the perfect home in this neighborhood, reach out to us today. We'd be happy to lead you to your new home!

Sofie Langhorne
DRE 01851983
Charles Langhorne
DRE 01009410
805 689 5759
1101 Coast Village Rd.
Montecito, California 93108

Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. Changes in price, condition, sale or withdrawal may be made without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footage are approximate. If your property is currently listed for sale this is not a solicitation.
Based on information from the Santa Barbara MLS as of December 6, 2023. Display of MLS data is usually deemed reliable but is NOT guaranteed accurate by the MLS. Buyers are responsible for verifying the accuracy of all information and should investigate the data themselves or retain appropriate professionals. Information from sources other than the Listing Agent may have been included in the MLS data. Unless otherwise specified in writing, Broker/Agent has not and will not verify any information obtained from other sources. The Broker/Agent providing the information contained herein may or may not have been the Listing and/or Selling Agent.
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