Cool and crisp, yet sunny and clear. That’s often the weather on the American Riviera during November and December. While the rest of the country is battening down the hatches, our temperate Santa Barbara climate means you can still enjoy plenty of outdoor activities during this time of year. So, why spend the late fall and winter months indoors?  Check out these cool activities in Santa Barbara leading up to the holiday season.

Film & Arts in SB

Santa Barbara is where it’s at for surfing. But even if the water is a bit too chilly, surfers and ocean lovers will want to make sure to experience the Santa Barbara Surf Film Festival in early November at the historic Arlington Theater. Ok, while this festival isn’t outdoors, it’s a dynamic celebration of surf filmmaking that honors the sport and our beloved beaches and ocean. Visit the website for tickets, details on exhibitions, Q&A panels and other festival related activities:

In addition to filmmaking, Santa Barbara is a haven for artists of all kinds. The Arts Fund started the Funk Zone Art Walk™  in Santa Barbara’s hip and eclectic Funk Zone to celebrate the neighborhood’s vibrant artistic community. Around 20 artist studios, galleries, and art-centric venues host openings on night of the Walk from 5-8 p.m. Crawl from gallery to gallery soaking up art and culture while sipping wine and mingling with local artists. Get to hear insightful lectures, live music and participate in Q&A’s with artists. You might even be inspired to purchase a piece of art to take home. The walk occurs every other month of the year on the third Friday of the month. Visit The Arts Fund website to find the exact date during November:

Holiday parades on land and water, twinkling light and fireworks!

In early December, you’ll experience the city start to come alive with the glitter of holiday spirit. State Street is home to our Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade and it’s our way to usher in the holiday season as a community. It is SB’s only nighttime parade, so put on a jacket and get ready to join in on the holiday cheer. Check out the official Downtown Santa Barbara website for more details on this year’s theme for the Annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade:

parade of lights santa barbara

Being a coastal town, we don’t have snowfall, but we’ve got the Waterfront. Santa Barbara’s Annual Parade of Lights is more than 30 years running. Hundreds of families, friends and neighbors draw close together at the harbor and Stearns Wharf to watch as about 30 sailboats, yachts, fishing boats and even a dingy or two cruise the Santa Barbara Harbor decked in twinkly Christmas lights and holiday bling. The fun starts at 3:30 pm. at the SB Harbor where Santa’s Village will be set up with loads of goodies and activities for kids of all ages. After the Parade of Lights, the evening culminates with a five-minute firework display over the Pacific Ocean. Admission is free! Visit the City of Santa Barbara’s official page for the Santa Barbara Parade of Lights to get tips on the best viewing locations:

Pop-up shops and marketplace shopping for the holidays in Santa Barbara

Of course, no trip to Santa Barbara would be complete without shopping, especially in preparation for the holiday season. Shopaholics will relish in pop-up shops and marketplaces around town during November and December.

November is ideal for shopping in Santa Barbara, as you’ll have missed the summer crowds and will beat the holiday rush. A popular pop-up starting in November is the The Yes Store, which opens on November 1 and continues through December 24. It is a long-running SB tradition dating back to 1968. Take care of all your holiday gift shopping in one place! The Yes Store features work by well-known and burgeoning artists. Find arts, crafts, custom fine jewelry, fused & blown glass, graphics & photography, ceramics & woodworking, clothing, leather and so much more at this Santa Barbara pop-up co-op.

The Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace is a three-day shopping extravaganza and the largest folk art show in SoCal. About 30 vendors represent more than 50 countries with tribal arts, such as baskets, ethnographic art, furniture, jewelry, pottery, rugs, sculpture, and more.

Make sure to take your time perusing State Street, as you never know what unexpected seasonal shops will pop up or what winter or pre-holiday sales you might discover.

Where to stay when visiting Santa Barbara during the late fall and winter season

Be of good cheer! Our vacation rental homes are located in convenient locations to all of the above mentioned activities. You can even choose a home that is within walking distance to State Street, the Funk Zone or the Waterfront. Enjoy the crisp air during your stroll around town and cozy up in your vacation rental home with a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate after enjoying a full-day of fun in Santa Barbara.

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