Santa Barbara

Visit UCSB: When coming to Santa Barbara visiting the University of California Santa Barbara needs to be on your list. Found in the town of Goleta, this university impresses with its stunning 1055 acres campus. Besides the romantic lagoon and Storke tower, a tall tower with a 360 degrees view over UCSB and Goleta, this top college even has its own beach.

Guy surfing

Kayak/Surfing: Tucked away in the scenic peninsula of California, the ocean in Santa Barbara has the perfect conditions for world-class surf and charming sights that lend themselves to kayaking. All along the coast you can find small shops to rent surfboards and kayaks alike.

Whale Watching: No matter how many times you may have seen whales, they never cease to amaze. Here at the “American Riviera” your chances to meet one of the world’s biggest animals are almost guaranteed. Throughout the year humpbacks, grey whales and even orcas can be seen on the coast of Santa Barbara. A guided ferry tour of the Santa Barbara channel is sure to entertain and amaze!

Santa Barbara wood wall

Channel Islands: The Channel Island State Parks are stunning islands perched on the horizon of the city. From the Ventura Harbor, you can catch a ferry to and from the island. Island Packers offer day trips as well as camping (multi-day) trips! The Islands are famous for serene scenery, warm waters, unique flora and fauna and spectacular landscapes.

Channel Islands

Fig Tree: The “Moriton Bay Fig Tree” is America’s tallest fig tree and it is located in the center of Santa Barbara, next to highway 101. Planted in 1876, this from Australia originating fig tree was relocated throughout the centuries but never failed to live on and grow tall. Grab a quick summer time snack or rest in it’s expansive shade.

Rancho del Cielo: To escape the city life and take a quick vacay this Ranch in the north of Santa Barbara is the ideal destination. Even former president Ronald Reagan used to relax here in the backcountry.

Santa Barbara Zoo: A few miles south of the city center the Santa Barbara Zoo, which is one of America’s best small zoos, can be paid a visit. Not only local animals like the Californian Condor can be observed there, but also exotic ones, such as Gorillas, Lions, Giraffes, Elephants and many more.

Santa Barbara Mission: See a vital part of California’s history and attend Sunday Mass at the fully functional chapel!

Lemon Festival: The City of Goleta hosts a family friendly Lemon Festival! With free admission and parking, the Lemon Festival also offers pie eating contests, arts and crafts, and of course… lemons!

Summer Solstice Celebration: Up and down State Street in downtown Santa Barbara in June you can find a vibrant festival parading down the town. From reggae to classic rock, all of Santa Barbara welcomes the summer with open arms and shaking hips.


Butterflies: During winter a spectacular phenomenon can be witnessed in Goleta. Thousands upon thousands of Monarch butterflies spend the winter months in the tall Eucalyptus trees of the Ellwood Mesa in the Goleta Butterfly Grove, before leaving to Mexico in early spring. If you plan on visiting Santa Barbara during November to February this wonder of nature is a definite must-see.

Red Rock: Up in the Santa Barbara hills, at the end of the Santa Ynez River you can find this deep clear pool, surrounded by red rocks, which gave the location its name. Swimming in the pool, jumping from the cliffs and hiking are popular activities local residents enjoy on hot summer days.

Santa Ynez

Hiking in the Santa Ynez: The backcountry of Santa Barbara offers miles and miles of hiking routes with genuine South Californian flora and scenic views over the coast and the Pacific Ocean. A day spent hiking in the Santa Ynez Mountains is a well-spent day.

Paragliding/Sky Diving: Santa Barbara is a beautiful spot to run off a hill or jump out of an airplane. You can find affordable and trusted agencies to take you on a flight to be remembered.

Montecito: Ten minutes south of Santa Barbara is a sleepy yet wealthy town named Montecito. Here you can find fine dining, ocean front houses and Oprah Winfrey’s gorgeous estate.

Camping at El Capitan: Fifteen minutes north of UCSB lays a beautiful campground that is perfect for family vacation and beach front camping.

Red Rocks

Sailing: Due to having an exclusive yacht harbor and several sailing events, Santa Barbara is well known for its sailing scene. On the calm waters around Santa Barbara sailing trips are an extraordinary experience paired with a little bit of exclusivity.

Campbell Hall: On the UCSB campus a large circular hall allows for magnificent performances. The University invites world-class performers, speakers and entertainers to perform for students and the public. These events are affordable to the general audience and even cheaper for students!

Sailing Santa Barbara

Dining Experiences: From fine French cuisine to exciting shows at a local Hibachi joint, Santa Barbara has something for everyone. Home of the first Habit Burger and Freebirds! this area leaves travelers with a multitude of opulent dining experiences.

See Spectacular Sunsets on the Beach: A trip to Santa Barbara is not complete without a sunset. Grab your loved ones, settle on the war sand and catch a glimpse of a unique sunset that will leave you speechless.

Beach Sunset

— Bayanne Alrawi and Sebastian Pasold