California has lifted the stay-at-home order and leisure travel is allowed once again. Santa Barbara restaurants are open for outdoor dining and State Street is now a promenade where restaurants and businesses can expand onto the sidewalk giving Downtown a whole new energy.

Not long ago, amidst the pandemic, Santa Barbara transformed its Downtown State Street into a promenade – a pedestrian outdoor mall – closed off to driving traffic, except for that of bicycles and other personal mobility devices. Cars can still drive through cross-streets, but most lights are set at flashing reds, meaning pedestrians rule in this part of State Street.

Downtown State Street promenade

Al fresco dining in parklets at State Street Promenade

As a result of California orders during COVID-19, restaurants were forced to get creative when it came to serving guests, as only outdoor dining was allowed if at all. One of the positive outcomes were the “parklets.” The parklet became an innovative way to add a temporary outdoor dining area out onto the sidewalk and street, allowing restaurants to expand their dining and seating capacity in a socially and physically distanced manner.

The result has been a phenomenal transformation of Downtown and a lively, yet COVID-responsible atmosphere. Now that the stay-at-home orders have been lifted and restaurants and cafes can resume outdoor dining, State Street Promenade is buzzing with energy and a European al fresco dining experience extends down blocks and into the paseos.

Safe social distance dining

On any given day or evening, while strolling the Santa Barbara State Street Promenade you can feel safe, as face masks are required while in the promenade area and both residents and visitors are kind enough to keep a respectful distance from one another.

al fresco dining santa barbara promenade

Santa Barbara restaurants and cafes have creatively outfitted their outdoor dining areas, making them especially attractive and delightfully decorated with sparkly lights, potted plants, mini-fences and various styles of heat lamps. You can gain a sense of normalcy while you remove your mask to eat and drink, feeling comfortable as you’re seated at socially distanced tables of 6-feet apart.

Come and explore these 10-blocks of State Street, between Sola and Haley, as you’ve never experienced them before. Watch out for bicyclists and scooter riders, as these folks share the road with pedestrians now, yet somehow it all works out; the new State Street Promenade and expanded al fresco dining have provided the community with some much-needed respite from the pandemic situation.

<<Read more about the “Best patio dining in Santa Barbara”>>

To find a vacation rental home near Santa Barbara’s State Street Promenade, search our short-term or long-term rentals.