If you haven’t been to Santa Barbara in the fall, you’re in for a treat. Autumn is the perfect time of year to get away just before the winter holidays kick-off. Our sunny paradise still hosts plenty of outdoor festivals, seaside events and local entertainment. And crisp evenings pair so well with a rich glass of pinot noir. Read our reasons to fall in love with Santa Barbara during autumn and don’t forget Halloween and Thanksgiving, too!

fall in santa barbara wine country

Photo by Jay Sinclair/Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Fall wine tasting and ‘Taste of Santa Ynez Valley’ event

Santa Barbara is a wine enthusiast’s destination year-round, but there’s something special about visiting the Central Coast during harvest season. This can be a great opportunity to take a wine tour and learn while you sip. Wine tour experiences are as varied as the wine itself. You might choose to design your own tour by following the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail. The Wine Trail stretches across two neighborhoods and includes more than 26 tasting rooms with more spots being added everyday. This can be a nice option for wine lovers staying in Santa Barbara who desire tasting the region’s best wines without having to drive out of the city to visit the wineries. 

<<Choose one of our conveniently located vacation rental homes and walk or bicycle downtown to experience your own version of the Urban Wine Trail.>>

Alternatively, you can hire one of the many wine tour companies to take you and yours on a trip to wine country. Whether a large group or a private tour for two, wine tours offer guests a trip out to the vineyards, combining winery and tasting room experiences. Enjoy wine and lunch and a pleasant walk through vineyards and breathe in the Santa Ynez Valley countryside.

This fall, enjoy an immersion over four days across six towns with the Taste of Santa Ynez Valley event in early November. The towns of Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Ballard, and Buellton will be buzzing with curated wine tastings, chef-driven long table dinners, lunches and fun activities. This event is in part hosted by Sunset magazine and aims to celebrate the beauty of these coastal California wine country destinations. Visit https://www.visitsyv.com/taste-of-the-santa-ynez-valley/ for more information and tickets. 

Santa Barbara Half Marathon

Runners near and far come to Santa Barbara to take part in the Santa Barbara Half Marathon in November. This waterfront half marathon includes stretches along Cabrillo Blvd. and finishes on Santa Barbara’s famed State Street. There is a 13 mile and 5 K option, as well as a kids’ run. Check out https://santabarbarahalf.com/ for more info and to register for the race, or simply volunteer, if running isn’t your idea of vacation. At least 5% of every dollar spent in the run goes to partner organizations making a positive impact on local communities, according to their website. 

Full Moon Yoga and Sound Bath at the Historic Carousel House

Full moon’s are better in autumn, don’t you agree? Join Santa Barbara Beach Yoga for their Full Moon Yoga and Sound Bath sessions at the Historic Carousel House directly across from the beach. Experience an immersive yoga and sound healing experience accompanied by the full moon. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the evening starts with a Full Moon Intention Setting & Sound Meditation followed by All Levels Vinyasa Yoga Flow and finally a Sound Healing finishes off the evening, ending at 8:30 p.m. Visit https://santabarbarabeachyoga.com/calendar for more info and to book. 

Harvest season, pumpkin patches, Halloween ghost tours, Boo at the Zoo and Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara

Celebrate harvest season at the pumpkin patch

Speaking of moons, the harvest moon beckons spooky and fun Halloween activities in the town of Santa Barbara that both locals and visitors will enjoy. Stop by Big Wave Dave’s Pumpkin Patch open daily through October 31st. Fall into the harvest season at this local pumpkin patch, which offers fun for the whole family with photo opportunities and a wide selection of pumpkins and seasonal squash, decorative gourds, hay and corn. Admission is free! Visit https://www.bigwavedaveschristmastrees.com/pumpkin-patch for location information. 

Ghost tours in Santa Barbara

Experience the city of friendly ghosts! These fun and family friendly ghost tours guide guests through the streets and neighborhoods of Santa Barbara sharing history and ghost stories. Choose from a variety of ghost tours, including wine and spirits tasting ghost tours. Learn about stories of legends past and visit some of Downtown Santa Barbara’s haunted establishments. Visit https://sbghosttour.com/ to book. 

Boo at the Zoo

A trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo is fun any time of the year, but the zoo gets a spooky make-over for the Halloween season. Fun for all ages young and old – enjoy spooky decor, photo ops, trick-or-treating, a scare zone, creepy-crawly animal encounters, mad science experiments and much more. Boo at the Zoo runs from October 21 – 23 and 28 – 30 from 5-8 p.m. 

Tickets are required and there are restrictions for costumes. Please visit https://www.sbzoo.org/boo-at-the-zoo/ for a full explanation of activities, costume advisory and to book tickets. 

Thanksgiving Day in Santa Barbara

Why not enjoy Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara this year? If laboring away in the kitchen isn’t your idea of a holiday, Santa Barbara is the place to be for Thanksgiving Day. Many local restaurants host a Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings. Whether it’s brunch or dinner, there’s often a choice to suit, and Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara never disappoints. Visit Gayot’s list of 2022 Best Thanksgiving Restaurants in Santa Barbara Area, but note that more restaurants will be added closer to Thanksgiving Day. 

Santa Barbara Antique Decorative Arts & Vintage Show & Sale

Vintage and antique collectors, designers and dealers descend upon Santa Barbara for three days of shopping and dealing art, antiques, collectables and decor from the 17th century to mid-century Modern. With more than 70 dealers over three days, this event features everything from Tiffany to Chinese pottery, jewelry and textiles and more. The event is only held two times yearly at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Visit https://sbantiqueshow.com/ for more information and a $5 discount.

Where to stay in Santa Barbara near fall and autumn festivities in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a fantastic destination to visit year-round, but it’s especially charming during the fall. We even have a “Wine Country Ranch Escape” vacation rental near Buellton, ideal for those who want to visit Santa Ynez Valley and escape to horse country. Search short or long-term Santa Barbara vacation rentals and choose your dates!