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How to Be Car Free…

Top 3 Attractions | More Visitor Info

Top Three Santa Barbara Attractions -
How to Visit Them Car Free
  1. Stearns Wharf: walk, bike or take the 50-cent MTD Waterfront/Downtown electric shuttle. Stops right at the foot of the wharf at the Dolphin Fountain.
  2. Mission Santa Barbara: walk or bike (uphill), through pretty residential neighborhoods.
  3. Santa Barbara County Courthouse (one block from State Street): walk or bike. Or take the 50-cent MTD Downtown Electric shuttle the corner of State and Anapamu and walk east one block on Anapamu Street.
It’s Easy and Fun
to be Car Free on an
MTD Electric Shuttle!

Two MTD electric shuttle routes serve Downtown (State Street) and the Waterfront (Cabrillo Boulevard) daily for 50 cents per ride, children under 45 inches ride free. Plus, a free transfer is available between the Downtown Shuttle and the Waterfront Shuttle. As you board the first bus, ask the driver for a Shuttle Transfer.

Downtown and Waterfront Shuttles run frequently. For Summer and Winter schedules, see this page on MTD's website.


A Car Free Day in Santa Barbara’s Wine Country

Arrive car free via Amtrak at the Santa Barbara Train Station at 209 State Street. Board the Pacific Surfliner #761 in Los Angeles at 7:35am, arriving in Santa Barbara at 10:19am.

Experience the beauty and bounty of Santa Barbara’s Santa Ynez Valley wine region from the comfort and safety of your guided tour jeep, van or limo. Private wine tour companies will pick you up at your hotel or the train station - see Excursions and Tours/Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country for a list. Return to Santa Barbara in time to board Pacific Surfliner #796 departing at 6:59pm and returning back to Los Angeles at 9:45pm.

OR just park your car at your hotel and have a Car Free Partner wine tour company pick you up and spend the day in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley!


Build Your Own Car Free Itinerary

It’s easy and fun to explore Santa Barbara without a car. Here is a list of attractions all accessible via walking, bicycling, or public MTD bus transportation.

1. Santa Barbara Waterfront

Stearns Wharf is located at the end of State Street at the intersection of Cabrillo Boulevard, with a welcoming signature dolphin fountain. Visit the West Coast’s oldest operating wharf since 1872. Walk out on the wooden planks and enjoy stops at the many restaurants, gift shops, ice-cream parlor, wine tasting room, and stunning views of the coastline and Pacific. Take a boat ride around the harbor; go parasailing or ocean-fishing.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is also located on Stearns Wharf. The Sea Center is a fun, engaging, interactive marine education facility with interactive exhibits, live tide pool animal encounters, and a theater showcasing the wonders of the Santa Barbara Channel. Open daily 10:00am-5:00pm. closed holidays. Admission fee.

Santa Barbara Harbor & Marina is located at Cabrillo Boulevard and Harbor Way, west of Stearns Wharf. The Santa Barbara Harbor is a pleasure and commercial boating destination; here you can go whale watching, sailing, sport-fishing, rent kayaks, sailboats, or charter boats. Check out the haul of fresh fish at the market every Saturday morning. Enjoy fine or casual dining, buy a yacht, groceries, and souvenirs or just stroll the ¼ mile breakwater marked by fluttering flags.  

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, also located at the Marina, is housed in the old Naval Reserve Building. The museum offers interactive nautical exhibits and displays, a theater, and wealth of information on boating, sailing, and waterfront history of Santa Barbara. Open daily from 10:00am-5:00pm (10:00am-6:00pm in summer), closed holidays. Admission fee.  

Beachside Bike Paths are ideal for biking, roller skating, rollerblading or skateboarding. Bike rentals are available on State Street near Stearns Wharf. See Bicycling or  

Chase Palm Park is on Cabrillo Boulevard two blocks east of Stearns Wharf, opposite the ocean. This 10-acre, $5 million waterfront park is dedicated to children. Visit the Antique Carousel (fee), Shipwreck Playground, Great Meadow and prime Pacific view. Open daily.  

Santa Barbara Zoo is located at 800 Ninos Drive, just off Cabrillo Boulevard. On 30 acres overlooking East Beach, over 500 animals in 80 outstanding habitat areas; changing exhibits, programs and tours. Mini-train, gift shop, cafe and carousel. Admission fee.

Santa Barbara Skate Park is on Cabrillo Boulevard at Anacapa Street, ocean-side, one block from Stearns Wharf. Open daily to the public dawn to dusk for bring-your-own-skateboard and helmet, at-your-own-risk rides on the concrete bowls and obstacles.  

2. Downtown

downtownRed Tile Walking Tour - Visit the city’s spectacular architectural landmarks with an easy self-guided tour walking tour throughout downtown. Download the self-guided Red Tile Walking Tour. Also view and request a copy of our Santa Barbara Car Free Map.

Here are some highlights on the Red Tile Walking Tour:

The Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 East de la Guerra Street, holds documents, furniture, decorative and fine arts from all periods of the area’s history, plus rotating exhibits and artwork. Open daily except holidays. Donation appreciated.  

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park occupies the 100 and 200 blocks of East Canon Perdido Street. The Presidio was the last military outpost built by Spain in the New World, dedicated in 1782. You can visit authentically restored quarters, living history exhibits and take a docent guided tour. Open daily except major holidays. Free.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located at 1130 State Street. The Museum features important works by American, European and Asian artists and rotates an impressive collection of exhibits and events. Admission fee.

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 21 West Anapamu Street, houses original manuscripts of great authors, scientists and leaders. Open daily except Christmas and New Years Day. Free.

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa Street, is a National historic landmark built in Spanish-Moorish design in 1929. The Courthouse is surrounded by beautiful sunken gardens and offers stunning panoramic views from the four-story clock tower. Open daily. Free.  

Visit El Paseo, California’s first shopping center, built in the 1920s. Enter at the corner of State and De la Guerra Streets. El Paseo houses popular restaurants, specialty shops and art galleries.  

Paseo Nuevo, a newer shopping center just off State Street between Ortega and Canon Perdido Streets, offers a variety of 50 upscale retail outlets, boutiques, movie theater and restaurants including Nordstrom. It is also the home to the upstairs Contemporary Arts Forum and the Center Stage Theater.

3. Nearby Downtown

MissionMission Santa Barbara, located at 2201 Laguna Street at the corner of East Los Olivos Street, is open daily (except Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 9:00am-4:30pm. There is an admission fee for the tour & museum. The “Queen of the Missions” offers docent and self-led tours of this famous landmark including the chapel, cemetery and gardens.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2259 Puesta del Sol Road, is just north of the Mission. Marked with a giant whale skeleton at the entrance, this museum is an excellent stop for families with exhibits featuring mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and geology, and creekside grounds to explore. Open daily except holidays. Admission fee.  

MissionThe Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road, is open daily with amazing exhibits plus five miles of trails through forests and plant life on 65 acres of only California native species. Admission fee.  

To view and download maps of these areas, see our exclusive Santa Barbara Car Free Map.