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8 Must-See Santa Barbara Attractions

5 minutes read Mar 10,2021
8 Must-See Santa Barbara Attractions

Tucked between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is a traveler's paradise. From the vibrant downtown area to the many beaches and museums, there is no shortage of things to do in Santa Barbara.

You can enjoy your West Coast vacation from El Capitan Canyon or Ocean Mesa RV Resort, situated just 20 miles west of downtown. Either provides a comfortable stay and a great home base to explore all the best Santa Barbara attractions!

Giraffe at Santa Barbara Zoo

8 Things to Do in Santa Barbara, CA

1. Santa Barbara Zoo

Nestled near the water is the Santa Barbara Zoo. While hundreds of animals reside here, it's compact size makes it easy for families to easily stroll through. That means you don't need to plan your entire day around a visit to the zoo.

2. Stearns Wharf

The most iconic attraction in Santa Barbara is Stearns Wharf. Extending from State Street into the ocean, Stearns Wharf offers expansive views, fishing spots, and several eateries and shops. You can enjoy wine tastings, outdoor dining, and even visits to the aquarium at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.

Nojoqui Falls in Santa Barbara

3. Nojoqui Falls

In search of an easy hike? Nojoqui Falls sits a few miles west of El Capitan Canyon. From the parking lot, it's about a 10-minute walk up the trail to the waterfall. It is seasonal, however, so bear in mind that the waterfall won't be a roaring deluge unless there's recently been rain.

4. Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Sitting on State Street, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a small, but elegant gallery. You'll find many American paintings, primarily from Californian artists, that were created during the 20th century. There are also Asian and European paintings, prints, and sculptures.

Old Mission Santa Barbara

5. Old Mission Santa Barbara

Near the base of the mountains is Old Mission Santa Barbara. Created by Spanish missionaries in 1786, this popular Santa Barbara attraction is filled with interesting art, artifacts, and relics, while also boasting beautiful gardens and a historic mausoleum.

6. Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park

A sandstone cave in the mountains, Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park features pictographs from Chumash Native Americans. While you won't be able to enter the cave, you will be able to observe the pictographs within from behind a metal grille. You can also get a close-up virtual tour thanks to a local partnership.

Cold Spring Tavern in Santa Barbara

7. Cold Spring Tavern

Cold Spring Tavern is the among the most famous Santa Barbara attractions. In a different era, this was a stagecoach stop, offering respite for weary travelers. Now, it's a Western saloon with authentic décor and a one-of-a-kind menu. While the tavern has yet to reopen for indoor dining, you can order takeout on select days.

8. El Capitan State Beach

Another irresistible attraction in Santa Barbara is the El Capitan State Beach. This gorgeous expanse features soft sand, rocky tidepools, and great waves for swimming and surfing. It's also great for guests of El Capitan Canyon, as it's right across the street! You can walk to it or rent a beach cruiser bike from the resort to cycle over.

Clubhouse Balcony at El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, California

Coastal California Camping near Santa Barbara

An exceptional vacation experience awaits at our Santa Barbara resorts. Ocean Mesa RV Resort features RV camping, as well as family amenities like a heated pool, llama farm, and on-site market. El Capitan Canyon specializes in luxurious vacation rentals with amenities including:
  • Beach cruiser bicycle rentals
  • Spacious swimming pool
  • Canyon Spa
  • El Capitan Canyon Market and restaurant
  • Hikes, wine tastings, and planned activities

There's so much to see and do in Santa Barbara. We hope you'll join us for an unforgettable vacation at our gorgeous resorts along the California coast!  

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