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Set in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and along the Central California Coast, Santa Barbara is known for its idyllic sandy beaches, Spanish Colonial architecture, and a colorful local arts scene. Discover the natural beauty along the water, the many museums and attractions just off State Street, or pick up a unique piece at the Santa Barbara Art Walk. Book your next stay at a Best Western Santa Barbara hotel and explore this picturesque town.
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State Street Santa Barbara
State Street is more than the center of downtown, it’s the heart and soul of this laid back California town. Cafes, bistros and shops, line the streets where locals and visitors dine on local wines and seasonal plates, while various popular attractions invite guests to learn all about Santa Barbara’s 17th century roots.
At the Old Mission Santa Barbara, you’ll see artifacts from its founding in 1786. Tour La Huerta, garden featuring plants that are nearly as old as the building itself. As you tour this historic mission, enjoy stunning views from almost every vantage point on the property. At the nearby Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, take a deeper dive into how the area was colonized with resident exhibits featuring regional art or be mesmerized in the butterfly garden.
Further down State Street, you can climb to the top of 85-foot "El Mirador" clock tower at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for impressive views of this quintessential oceanside community. A few blocks south be transported back in time at El Presidio de Santa Barbara, a historic 6-acre park that at one time was an old Spanish fortress. Nearby, hop on a docent-led tour at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to admire American, European and Asian works.
For a change of pace, enjoy one of the wonderful performances hosted at the Lobero Theatre and Arlington Theater.
About a mile south of State Street, Stearns Wharf juts into the Harbor. Wood-framed buildings reminiscent of an old fishing village, now house shops and seafood restaurants. Visiting on a Sunday? The weekly Santa Barbara Art Walk, starts from the Wharf and has been a staple of the city’s culture since 1966 and is a favorite activity among locals and visitors. Nearby the Wharf, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, kids will love petting the sting rays in the Shark Cove.
Santa Barbara Beaches
Stay at a Best Western hotel in Santa Barbara and get ready to hit the beaches. Directly next to the Wharf, you can soak up the sun, rent a kayak or start a game of volley ball at West Beach. Explore the Santa Barbara coast and drive south west along the water to Shoreline Park, a perfect place to relax with views of the Channel Islands and is great for whale watching on a clear day. For even better views and sunsets continue west along Shoreline Drive to Douglas Family Preserve. Located on a mesa just above Arroyo Burro Beach, the 70-acre park is home to coastal live oaks, Monterey pine and cypress.
If you’re traveling with kids, East Beach is a great spot to fuel up at the on-site restaurant, East Beach Grill, before visiting nearby family-friendly attractions. Spy on snow leopards at the Santa Barbara Zoo or try spot rare birds at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge Lagoon. From East Beach, you can also take a paved bike path to or Butterfly Beach, where incredible bluffs lead to a quiet sandy shore.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
About 10 minutes north of downtown, find some calm at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Plant your own herbs at the resident
Garden Growers Nursery or visit the Redwood Section where the stunning California trees tower into the sky and an aqueduct provides a beautiful backdrop.
Stay at a Best Western Santa Barbara hotel when visiting this stunning Central California Coastal town.
Explore Santa Barbara