Home California Explore Santa Barbara

Explore Santa Barbara

by Penny Sadler

If your idea of a great vacation is a mix of culture, history and scenery, along with great food and a small town atmosphere, you will love Santa Barbara, California.

Follow along as I take you on a photo walk to some of my favorite places in Santa Barbara.

Explore Santa Barbara,@PennySadler

First stop is usually Chocolate Maya for some salted dark chocolate filled with caramel. I am going to have to call them and see if they can ship me some more a.s.a.p., because I’ve almost finished the stash I brought home with me.

Chocolate Maya, Santa Barbara

salted dark chocolate at Chocolate Maya

Santa Barbara Courthouse

concert at Santa Barbara Courthouse

An architectural and historical gem is the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. This is not, however, the original courthouse which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1925. If you look at the website for the courthouse, you’ll see that the current structure is vastly different and a big improvement (I prefer the Spanish style architecture). The courthouse was designated a National Historical Monumnent in 2005. The expansive lawn and outdoor gardens are also used as a venue for concerts and cultural events.

Explore Santa Barbara

Explore Santa Barbara @Penny Sadler

detail courthouse ceiling

Santa Barbara @PennySadler

exterior detail – courthouse

I recommend taking one of the docent tours. After doing some research on the courthouse, I discovered that there is much I have missed. And don’t forget to climb the tower for the breathtaking views of the city.

Mission Santa Barbara @PennySadler

One of my favorite places is the Old Mission Santa Barbara. The location of the Mission, on a hillside with the Santa Ynez mountains in the background and lush gardens in the front, along with the fountain and twin bell towers, are perhaps why it is called The Queen of Missions. On a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean.

Mission Santa Barbara ©pennysadler 2012-2013 Altar after Sunday service

altar at Mission Santa Barbara

The Mission Santa Barbara is one of 21 missions built in California by Spanish Franciscan Friars. It is also one of the missions with an active parish. I took this photograph after a service during Fiesta Old Spanish Days weekend. Spanish heritage and culture are important part of civic life and are often celebrated in Santa Barbara.

Mariachi band, Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2013

Santa Barbara @PennySadler 2012

view of the harbor from the foothills

Leaving the mission, head into the hills for a scenic drive. Ogle the million dollar plus homes and the million dollar views. You may need a massage from all the neck twisting scenery.

Drive toward the beach and the harbor where you can charter a fishing boat, go kayaking, take a tour of the Channel Islands, or a walk on the beach. Or simply sit outside sit and feast your eyes on the views. They don’t call it the American Riviera for nothing.

The City of Santa Barbara updates their website regularly. Check for events and activities at Stearns Wharf.  October 13, 2012 is the 11th Annual Harbor and Seafood Festival. I’ve never attended but it sounds like fun.

Explore Santa Barbara @PennySadler



You may also enjoy a short travel essay, inspired by my recent trip there: Travel and Self Exploration.

Chocolate Maya
15 W.Gutierrez St.

Old Mission Santa Barbara
2201 Laguna St.

Santa Barbara Courthouse
1100 Block Anacapa St.

Stearns Wharf
Harbor Way

All materials ©pennysadler2012

enjoy a walk along the Pacific Ocean

If You Liked This Article Check Out Another!


Lillie - @WorldLillie June 16, 2014 at 11:09 pm

I’ve never been to Santa Barbara but now am super curious to go!

Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:50 am

I think you’d love it and your baby would love the beach.

Terry at Overnight New York June 16, 2014 at 10:41 am

I’m a native Californian and visited Santa Barbara a lot as a kid. I still visit occasionally and love it — especially its downtown area and old-style movie theaters.

Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:50 am

I remember a couple of trips as a teenager, but it’s more fun as an adult. 🙂

Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com June 15, 2014 at 12:34 am

You had me at salted dark chocolate. Looks so yummy!

Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:52 am

It’s a regular spot for me.

Micki June 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Oh, you had me at salted dark chocolate at Chocolate Maya.

Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

right! I can’t wait to go there again! It’s usually my first stop.

Mary @Green Global Travel June 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Sometimes we forget about the amazing destinations that are in the USA. Sounds like we should visit Santa Barbara for some beautiful scenery and maybe even kayaking.

Penny Sadler June 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Definitely kayaking! Sailing, fishing, anything related to water activities. I agree there is plenty to see right here in the USA. Of course I’m partial to California. 🙂

Casey @ A Cruising Couple June 13, 2014 at 11:48 am

Looks awesome! I’ve met some people from Santa Barbara, but never been myself. I would love to explore here, especially if it included salted dark chocolate! 🙂 The Spanish influences are great, too.

Penny Sadler June 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

Chocolate Maya is the best! I’ve been going there for years.

Wandering Educators June 13, 2014 at 10:01 am

Gorgeous! I especially love that marina shot.

Penny Sadler June 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

The marina is nice. Great restaurants and people watching.

Penny Sadler June 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

The marina is beautiful. I always spend some time there.

Gran Canaria Local June 13, 2014 at 6:32 am

Living in Spain, as we do, we love the sound of the Spanish influence. Looks a special city. Thanks for the beautiful introduction.

Penny Sadler June 13, 2014 at 6:35 am

It is a lovely place. I can’t wait to go back!

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas June 13, 2014 at 6:06 am

Looks so much like Spain!

Penny Sadler June 13, 2014 at 6:24 am

Cat that is so cool to hear. I just love it there. Very unique place.

Everyone Loves A Parade - Adventures of a Carry-On January 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

[…] more about Santa Barbara and be sure to check out my other images from Fiesta in the weekly photo challenge posts, Wrong, […]

Postcard: Old Spanish Days, Santa Barbara - Adventures of a Carry-on | Adventures of a Carry-on July 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

[…] For some more ideas on what to do in the area, read Explore Santa Barbara. […]

writecrites September 1, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Santa Barbara is a beautiful town with remarkable architecture. The archway photo, in particular, is my favorite.

Penny September 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm

very special place. The Spanish influence is very evident there.

Everyone Loves A Parade | Adventures of a Carry-on August 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

[…] more about Santa Barbara and be sure to check out my other images from Fiesta in the weekly photo challenge posts, Wrong, […]

megtraveling August 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Santa Barbara looks like an ideal destination, and there’s chocolate too! I think I need to visit there… 🙂

Penny August 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Highly recommend Chocolate Maya. If you can’t ‘make it there soon, order some!


Leave a Comment