Santa Barbara has been designated a Gold-Level Community by Walk Friendly Communities.
With its many paseos, Santa Barbara’s shopping district is made for pedestrians. It’s just a short walk from the waterfront up State Street under Highway 101 to the vibrant center of town, with its irresistible shops, casual sidewalk cafes, and superb restaurants. If you get tired of walking, hop on the electric shuttle or, in the evening, flag down a bike cab. Or you can rent a bike or segway (see this page). See how to be car free for some suggestions and itineraries.
Listed here are a few locations exceptionally well-suited for exploring on foot.
View self-guided walking tours (PDF files*)
- Red Tile Walking Tour of downtown Santa Barbara
- Twelve Santa Barbara Paseos (car-free pedestrian walkways) in downtown
- Harbor/Shoreline Walking Tour (with options through City College and the Douglas Family Preserve)
- Walk the Wharf (history of of Stearns Wharf)
- Butterfly Beach/Coast Village Road in Montecito
- Walk Santa Barbara’s Urban Wine Trail, visiting winery tasting rooms as you go.
*You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open these files, you can download it (free) here.
See below for an interactive version of the Red Tile Walking Tour.
Click on the symbol with the four corners (top right of map) to view full-screen map.
Santa Barbara on Foot
Sunday mornings along the beach side of Cabrillo Boulevard from State Street to Chase Palm Park.
Located at the end State Street where it meets Cabrillo Boulevard. Stearns Wharf is just a few short blocks from the Amtrak station and many waterfront hotels. Walk, bike or take the 50-cent MTD Waterfront/Downtown electric shuttle – it stops right at the foot of the wharf near the Dolphin Fountain.
Stearns Wharf is the longest, oldest working wooden wharf in California since 1872. It is located at the end of State Street at the intersection of Cabrillo Boulevard, with a welcoming signature dolphin fountain. The Wharf is home to several fine restaurants, shops, and the Sea Center, a hands-on discovery center for learning about the marine environment. 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.
State Street is the heart of downtown. See the Conference and Visitor Bureau’s web site for shopping and dining information. Don’t miss Paseo Nuevo between Ortega and Canon Perdido Streets, and El Paseo, between De La Guerra and Canon Perdido Street.
During summer months and on busy weekends and evenings, you will find independent Pedicabs to pedal you up or down State street.
The Santa Barbara Harbor and Waterfront is a destination for pleasure and commercial boats; here you can go whale watching, sailing, sport-fishing, rent kayaks, sailboats, or charter boats. The harbor houses restaurants, shops, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, and over 1000 vessels. 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.
www.sbfarmersmarket.org. Certified farmers markets at different locations almost every day of the week:
- Downtown – Sat mornings + Tues evenings
- Goleta – Thurs evenings + Sun mornings
- Carpinteria – Thurs evenings
- Montecito – Fri mornings
- Solvang – Weds evenings
Chase Palm Park is on Cabrillo Boulevard two blocks east of Stearns Wharf, opposite the ocean. This 10-acre, two-mile long $5 million oceanfront park is dedicated to children. Visit the Antique Carousel (fee), Shipwreck Playground, Great Meadow and prime Pacific view. Open daily.
Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden (805) 564-5433. A series of gardens situated within a 4 1/2- acre city block, home to over 100 species of unusual flowering and shade trees, plus a number of palms adapted to the coastal climate. The Park is bordered by Alameda, Garden, Santa Barbara and Micheltorena Streets. Open daily, no fee.
Walk Santa Barbara guidebook from Olympus Press and the Trailmaster. Book on walking Santa Barbara plus other information and resources from local experts.
Guided Walking Tours
Free historical walking tour along the Santa Barbara Waterfront. It is a 1.5-mile easy walk taking about 2 hours with 12 stops of interest along the way. Starts at the Harbor and ends at the Visitor Center. Offered 2-3 times a week. For more information and reservations, visit: http://freewalkingtoursb.com/
(805) 699-6719. www.eatthisshootthat.com. Two-hour walking food and photo tours that are a great way to discover some of the locals’ favorite eateries while learning about photography from a pro.
(805) 965-6307. Walking tours are conducted every Saturday from memorial Day through Labor Day, beginning at 10:00 am in De la Guerra Plaza. No reservations are required.
Other Great Places to Walk
www.sbzoo.com. A lovely zoo featuring 500 animals in 80 outstanding habitat areas in a stunning setting overlooking the Andrea Clark Bird Refuge and East Beach. Features changing exhibits, programs, and tours. Includes mini-train, gift shop, cafe, and carousel. Admission fee. Take the Waterfront electric shuttle, see Bus Around Town.
www.sbnature.org. 2259 Puesta del Sol Road. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is one of the most beautiful small museums in the United States by virtue of its natural creekside setting and gracious Spanish-style architecture. The Museum offers a close look at the story of the region’s birth, geology and paleontology, native wildlife, rich marine life, and the culture of the Chumash Indians. Marked with a giant whale skeleton at the entrance, this museum is an excellent stop for families. Open daily except holidays. Admission fee.
www.sbbg.org. 1212 Mission Canyon Road. Sixty-five acres and over 5 miles of paths meander through an unrivaled collection of California flora and offer panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. Eight different habitats represent various regions throughout California, including redwood forests, oak and canyon woodlands, meadows and deserts. Admission fee.
805-965-1414 or 884-WAVE (9283). www.sbadventureco.com. Adventure travel trips with a focus on experiencing the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Customized adventures: sea kayaking, Channel Island Trips, kayak lessons, kayak surfing, horseback riding, wine country tours.