Santa Barbara is a city on the central California coast, nestled near the Santa Ynez Mountains as a stunning backdrop. The city has a Spanish colonial heritage which is reflected in the beautiful Mediterranean-style white buildings with red-tile roofs. There is no shortage of sunshine, incredible food and wine, and a laid-back vibe that keeps you wanting to come back to this heavenly destination.

We've listed our favourite spots below, plus a few suggestions of places that we weren't able to visit on this trip but will definitely be on our list for next time. We've linked the websites below for each spot so you can find them easily.

Top Spots | Santa Barbara | California

Stearns Wharf


Dubbed as Santa Barbara's number one attraction, it's clear to see how Stearns Wharf is so popular. Walking along the waterfront and out onto the pier is such a stunning experience and gives you incredible views of the palm-lined shores of Santa Barbara, with a gorgeous backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains. The Wharf is packed with restaurants and shops and you can easily spend a day there.

The Funk Zone


This artsy, creative neighbourhood is famed for its converted warehouses, with a plentiful supply of art galleries, boutique wine tasting rooms, cafes and contemporary shops. We recommend booking in some tasting experiences, and spending a few hours walking around The Funk Zone to fully appreciate its beauty and uniqueness.

The Red Piano


Okay so this point includes two spots! The Red Piano on the State Street Promenade is the ultimate venue if you like live music and great drinks. We had some cocktails and light bites in the afternoon while exploring Santa Barbara and it was the perfect pit stop. Experiencing the buzz and European influence of the fully pedestrianised State Street Promenade with live music and drinks flowing was such an enjoyable experience. They also have an iconic red piano on display which their name takes after.

Helena Avenue Bakery


There is absolutely no shortage of amazing restaurants in Santa Barbara, but one of our favourite places to eat was Helena Avenue Bakery & Kitchen. We had a delicious breakfast and also noticed that they host super cool events at the weekends like brunch and wine tasting; we didn't get chance to give these a go but they looked really fun and we'll definitely leave extra time on our next visit. We also picked up a couple of their homemade jams to take home which were divine!

Santa Barbara Craft Ramen


Santa Barbara Craft Ramen is a local ramen spot located in Downtown Santa Barbara. They serve a combination of sushi, ramen, rice bowls and more. We happened to just walk by this place, checked the google rating as you do, and the rest is history. We ordered the Black Ramen and the Shoyu Ramen and both were amazing, so check this place out if you're in Downtown and craving a delicious broth.

McConnell's Fine Ice Creams


With over 70 years experience in making ice cream from scratch and one of the largest, family run dairies that operated in Santa Barbara, McConnell's Fine Ice Creams is unmissable. Their delicious and creative flavour combinations have people queuing outside their store for a taste of this dairy goodness and they even have a selection of dairy-free flavours. We opted for the 'Earl Grey Tea & Shortbread Cookies' flavour to give us a taste of home.

The Blue Door


The Blue Door is a stunning vintage store located a 5 minute walk away from Stearns Wharf, boasting three floors filled with vintage and modern interior collections. We fell in love with this store and the items they stocked, and ended up leaving with way too many souvenirs. Our favourite items were the hand-poured candles by Santa Barbara Apothecary Co.