Making the 25th anniversary of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Where to travel next: 2021 Hot List” is our beloved Santa Barbara, listed as the only California city, holding its own among nine global destinations chosen by the magazine’s highly esteemed travel editors.

It’s safe to say that every tourist destination across the globe suffered immensely in the last year, yet the nine destinations selected were chosen partially for their resilience and success in the face of tremendous adversity. After devastating wildfires, horrific mudslides and then the pandemic wiping out most tourism and halting all cruise ship visits, Santa Barbara is called by Condé Nast Traveler editors “the Madonna of small-town reinvention.”

The article specifically cites the new State Street Promenade, which transformed the downtown strip into a pedestrian mall during the pandemic, allowing restaurants to expand onto the sidewalk and into the street in order to host al fresco dining and keep businesses afloat. On the heels of that very well received transition, Santa Barbara installed new electric bike rental locations, where riders can easily install an app to rent an e-bike at one of the 30 docking stations around town. Anyone who spent a bit of time in Santa Barbara over the years, knows it’s a bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly town with convenient bike lanes and lots of public transportation. But these recent changes exemplify Santa Barbara’s foot-forward approach into the future of green mobility.

As for mass transportation into SB, the new flights started by Southwest Airlines direct into Santa Barbara Municipal Airport this year made headlines. Direct flights to and from Denver, Las Vegas and Oakland benefit out of town visitors to Santa Barbara who can now avoid LAX all together. Southwest Airlines offers low-cost flights and does not charge baggage fees, making it an especially favored airline for those carrying surfboards, golf clubs or other bulky sized luggage. It’s likely that other airlines will follow suit. United Airlines will add flights to its Denver-Santa Barbara route and American Airlines’ is offering a new, temporary and direct flight into the Santa Barbara Airport from Chicago, which runs May through September of 2021.

Now Santa Barbara is easier than ever to get to and it’s easier than ever to get around on foot or e-bike once you’re here!

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As for activities, the Condé Nast editors made sure to mention the debut of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s new multi-floor wing. As of May 11, the museum started welcoming visitors back into the galleries and advance tickets are recommended. The article also notes the new “Australian Walkabout” area in the Santa Barbara Zoo that is set to open in October 2021.

Destination: Santa Barbara, California – Visit Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Hot List’ of where to travel in 2021

From cultural art exhibits to new Australian wildlife at the SB Zoo, promenading down State Street and then zipping around town or to the beach on an e-bike, there’s plenty to do in Santa Barbara in 2021. Nothing can keep us down and we can certainly see why Santa Barbara made Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List of where to travel next in 2021.

Find out what Condé Nast Traveler editors love about Santa Barbara. Check out our list of Santa Barbara Attractions & Activities and then view coastal vacation rental homes in Santa Barbara for rent. View short term or long term rentals in Santa Barbara. You can also read our blog to learn more about things to see and do in Santa Barbara.