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How to Spend 3 Days in Santa Barbara

How to Spend 3 Days in Santa Barbara

With three days in Santa Barbara, you’ll get a chance to explore the area’s natural wonders, immerse yourself in the local art scene, hike rugged coastal trails, and watch the sunset from the beach—and still have time to venture into the surrounding wine country. Use this itinerary to help you make the most of your 3-day adventure.

Day One: City Highlights

Devote your first day to hitting the highlights of Santa Barbara, starting with the city’s most iconic attraction: the Old Mission. Dating to 1786, this Franciscan mission features Spanish colonial architecture, a year-round rose garden, and an on-site museum featuring nine rooms filled with art, artifacts, and period recreations. 

From here, head downtown to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which holds a collection of Victorian-era art along with sculptures, photographs, and other objects. The museum’s star attraction is thePortrait of Mexico Today, a mural created by Mexico’s famous David Alfaro Siquieros. To continue your exploration of art, check out some of the numerous galleries in the city’s Funk Zone neighborhood, which is equally known for its many local breweries and wine bars that showcase local treats. Finish off your day with dinner at Stearns Wharf, a pier chock-full of seafood restaurants with views over the harbor.

Day Two: The Natural World

Spend your day exploring Santa Barbara’s natural world. Start by learning about local ecosystems at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, which chronicles the animals, birds, insects, and aquatic life in the area—there’s even a to-scale replica of a blue whale skeleton. 

Then, hop over to the Santa Barbara botanic garden to take in Southern California’s rich plant life. The garden includes more than five miles of trails offering up gorgeous coastal views. After your visit, grab a few picnic supplies and make your way to the beach: Area options include the 15-acre Shoreline Park, full of grassy areas and viewpoints, as well as Leadbetter Beach, a popular sunbathing and surfing spot loved by locals that makes a great place to watch the sun set into the Pacific Ocean.

Day Three: Santa Ynez Wine Country

Finish off a 3-day trip by visiting the Santa Barbara’s celebrated local wine country. While there are plenty of wine-rich areas in the greater region to visit, each with its own appellation, the Santa Ynez Valley typically beckons most first-timers.

The town of Santa Ynez itself offers plenty of tasting rooms, as does Los Olivios to the north. Bicycle tours appeal to active travelers, but anyone planning on doing a lot of drinking is better off joining a tour with a hired driver. While in the area, stop in Solvang, just west of Santa Ynez. This town, founded by Danish-Americans looking to escape the cold of the Midwest, is full of half-timbered architecture that seems far more Californian than Scandinavian, plus all sorts of Danish shops, restaurants, and bakeries.

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8 Tours and Activities | All Santa Barbara Tours

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Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour

Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour

star-5
Explore Santa Barbara by electric bike, covering plenty of ground on a morning or afternoon excursion. Ride your easy-to-use beach cruiser to key landmarks such as State Street and the Santa Barbara Mission as your knowledgeable guide shares the city’s history during this Santa Barbara bike tour. Have your camera ready as you glide along the renowned Pacific coastline. Numbers are limited to five people, ensuring personalized attention and a small-group experience.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$95.00
From
$95.00
Taking safety measures

Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour

Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour

star-5
Walk right past the crowds on this food tour in Downtown Santa Barbara. Your guide leads the way as you pop into five to six tasting locations and one wine tasting room. Savor dishes and drinks locals have made a staple in their everyday lives, and learn about other places to eat and drink during your stay. If you have any food allergies or aversions or do not drink alcohol, please let us know in advance so we can do our best to accommodate.
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  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$99.00
From
$99.00
Taking safety measures

Electric Bike Adventure in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Electric Bike Adventure in Santa Barbara Wine Country

star-5
Explore the Santa Barbara wine region by electric bike on a self-guided tour from Los Olivos. Your package includes a Pedego Electric Bike with carrying satchel, wine trail map, and cold bottled water. With an electric bike, you can cover more ground without tiring, and switch on the motor when you need it. Staff are able to make recommendations and reservations to customize your itinerary to your interests.
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  • 1 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$83.00
From
$83.00
Taking safety measures

Wine Country Half-Day Bike Tour from Solvang

Wine Country Half-Day Bike Tour from Solvang

star-5
Santa Barbara Wine Country is one of California’s most diverse wine-growing regions, renowned for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon exploring the vineyards, orchards, and olive groves on this half-day bike tour. Along the way, stop to sample a variety of red and white wines, as well as local olive oils and chocolates, and learn more about the region’s wine-making heritage.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$155.00
From
$155.00

Santa Barbara Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Santa Barbara Scavenger Hunt Adventure

star-2
Make Santa Barbara your game board with a 3-hour scavenger hunt adventure for a team of 2–5 people. Use a smart phone to follow a series of locally-themed clues that lead to fun challenges with your friends and family. Trace a 2-mile route past historic monuments, seaside neighborhoods and hidden gems to get an insider's look at the city. Rack up points to compete against prior scavenger hunt teams, or simply enjoy the self-guided tour at your own pace, with plenty of stops to eat, drink and sightsee.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$20.52
Price varies by group size
From
$20.52
Price varies by group size

1-on-1 Private Surf Lesson in Santa Barbara

1-on-1 Private Surf Lesson in Santa Barbara

star-5
Catch your very first wave or fine-tune your turns with a 2-hour private surf lesson in Santa Barbara. Practice paddling out, reading the waves and popping as you surf along with a professional coach, and learn to stay safe and have fun in California’s legendary waves. Enjoy the convenience of an all-inclusive lesson, and soak up the coastal sunshine as you take your surfing skills to the next level.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$145.00
From
$145.00

Private All-Inclusive Wine Tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country

Private All-Inclusive Wine Tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country

Enjoy the personalized attention and flexible itinerary that come with booking a private tour of Santa Barbara's world-class wineries. Leave the driving and navigation to your guide and enjoy being free to imbibe as much as you like during the four winery stops, from Solvang to Los Olivos. Through tours and tastings, learn about what makes this area of the world perfect for wine production and relax in one vineyard with a 3-course gourmet lunch.
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  • 6 to 7 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$288.79
Price varies by group size
From
$288.79
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Event Transportation

Event Transportation

star-4
Spend a carefree day sipping your way through the Santa Ynez Valley on a private wine tour four you and up to 9 friends. After pickup from Solvang and surrounding areas, a dedicated guide chauffeurs you to the region’s top wineries on a customized itinerary designed just for your group. Spend as long as you like at each stop and taste the best Santa Ynez varietals, all without the need to appoint a designated driver.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$275.00
per group
From
$275.00
per group