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 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.
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. Whether it’s pumpkin patches, harvest moon yoga, trick-or-treating at the zoo or simply sipping wine while enjoying the cool autumn breeze, Santa Barbara and the Central Coast has so much to offer.
Stay in any of our Santa Barbara vacation rental homes that are always conveniently located to restaurants, shops and seasonal event locations and book an experience sure to build memories with friends and family that will last a lifetime. 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!
Autumn in Santa Barbara is the perfect time of the year to hit the trails. From the coastal mesa to the foothills and into the canyons, there are trails for every age and every skill level.
Santa Barbara’s idyllic destination tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains makes for breathtaking backdrops and views no matter where you trek. Take in the colorful fall foliage and wander the winding trails up to towering cliffs with sweeping vistas, or stay near the shore for a leisurely beach-adjacent hike. Whether you want a quick and easy jaunt or a challenging hike, there is a trail or path to suit your mood. Here are some of the most beautiful hikes in Santa Barbara for the fall season.
Inspiration Point is a popular hike for locals and tourists alike. This version of the hike begins at Tunnel Trail and is about 3.5 miles round-trip. This is considered a moderately challenging hike, as the trail begins on paved road access and then climbs through chaparral up to a summit where you can experience a view of Santa Barbara and the ocean and Channel Islands in the distance. This is a popular sunset hike, for obvious reasons, and it can also get pretty busy during the morning and afternoon, too. Watch out for mountain bikers blazing downhill.
Seven Falls and 3 Pools beyond Seven Falls
Starting from the same trailhead as Inspiration point is the hike to Seven Falls. This is considered a mildly challenging route that’s about 3-4 miles that takes you into the Los Padres National Forest. Hikers enjoy the workout and boulder hopping en-route to the falls and 3 Pools. Cool off with a dip in the creek on your way up or down.
It’s worth noting, the hike to 3 Pools involves a fairly difficult large boulder climb, so this leg is not for the faint of heart, as you would also need to climb down the boulder to return. After scaling the boulder, you return to the stream and continue rock and boulder hopping your way to 3 Pools. Depending on the time of the year, there may be more or less water in each of the pools.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Those who prefer an easy, leisurely autumn walk will enjoy the trails winding through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. These gardens span 78 acres and include miles of walking and hiking trails that are family and age friendly for senior citizens, too. Just one or two hours of meandering exposes visitors to more than 1,000 native plants plus wildflowers and trees. A visit to the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens is a relaxing treat and an afternoon well spent. Visit the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden website to get ideas for mini hikes or walks and to join short talks, such as a morning bird walk or nursery chats.
Douglas Family Preserve & Arroyo Burro Beach coastal hike
This is another easy, stress-free hike for those who prefer to stay ocean-adjacent. This walk starts in Douglas Family Preserve, a large open-area of about 60 acres sitting above Arroyo Burro Beach, also known as Hendry’s Beach by the locals. It contains walking trails and scenic ocean views you won’t want to miss. You’ll see owners walking their dogs, as dogs are allowed to go leash free in the park. Walk along a trail that borders the cliffs where you’ll want to pause and take photos of the view and waves below. The trail leads onto and down to Arroyo Burrow Beach Park. After your hike, pop into the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach for a morning coffee or sunset drink!
Cold Spring Trail Loop
It’s often still sunny and warm in Santa Barbara, even well into fall. The Cold Springs Trail is fairly shaded most of the way, so it’s a great option for hiking on a particularly sunny fall day. The loop is a popular area, so you’re sure to run into others while walking. The trail is marked by creek crossings and small waterfalls and the loop is about 3 miles long and starts in the Foothills of Montecito. Google map “Cold Spring Trailhead” for a bird’s eye view. At the entrance, choose the East or West Fork. Those who wish to carry on even further can access the Montecito Hot Springs from the Cold Spring Trailhead, as well.
Where to stay in Santa Barbara near the best places to hike
Lace up your hiking boots because fall in Santa Barbara is the best time of the year to hit the trails. From the coast to the canyons, there’s a trail to suit every skill level. Take in the sweeping views from up high or explore deep into the out-and-back, getting up close with California’s uniquely wonderful autumn foliage.
No matter which path you choose, there’s a Haller Coastal Homes vacation rental located within convenient distance to your favorite leisure spots. Our homes are often within walking, biking, and yes, maybe even hiking distance to some of Santa Barbara’s best outdoor walking activities. Search short or long-term Santa Barbara vacation rentals and choose from a variety of vacation rental homes at https://hallercoastalhomes.com/short-term-rentals/.
The past couple years yielded quite a bit of turnover in the restaurant industry here in Santa Barbara. Residents and visitors were sad to see some old favorites permanently fold; however, several new establishments have since replaced those that closed due to the pandemic. And business is booming! Peruse the sweet and savory of Santa Barbara and visit these new restaurants and cafes just opened within the past year or recent months.
Start the day with Breakfast in Santa Barbara
Alessia Patisserie + Cafe
Start the morning right at Alessia Patisserie + Cafe. Croissant and coffee lovers will be in bliss at this slice of Paris in Santa Barbara. Take a look at their website to view their patisserie case and menu, which ranges from the sweet to savory – with brioche French toast loaded with fresh berries, mascarpone whipped cream and Vermont maple syrup, to vegetarian or ham quiche, avocado toast and a full smoked salmon board complete with all the fixings and an everything bagel to boot. Alessia’s is your favorite neighborhood spot you’ll want to get up early for. https://www.alessiapatisserie.com/
Hook & Press
The Instragram worthy donuts have a new home at 15 East Figueroa St. Now a full-fledged restaurant, the menu offers breakfast sandwiches, tartines and delicious sides, in addition to buttermilk biscuits and colorful donuts. All doughs are made fresh daily and glazes and toppings are all made in-house. Visit the website to view the craft donuts menu, as well as the food and drink menus. http://www.hookandpressdonuts.com/menu
Lunch or brunch in Santa Barbara – Here’s what’s new
Jeannine’s American Bakery & Restaurant – at the Shore
The long-time favorite bakery serving breakfast and lunch opened their newest location at the shore, just across from Stearns Wharf. This picture perfect spot is idyllic with sweeping views of the beach and pier when seated inside and a relaxing outdoor patio with umbrellas for a pleasant beachside brunch. Jeannine’s menu reaches far and wide with something for everyone – from classic breakfast favorites from the griddle, or egg dishes, to salads and sandwiches for lunch. Enjoy a refreshing midday cocktail, champagne, white or rose wine, as well. https://jeannines.com/
Taza Mediterranean Street Kitchen
Modern Mediterranean street food, like kebabs, falafel, gyro, wraps and more, are now on State Street waiting to satisfy your lunch cravings. There’s something for carnivores and vegetarians alike, as this savory and healthy menu is an oasis of Middle East fare. Nestled in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara’s State Street, Taza is a convenient lunch location that’s sure to be a hit for locals and tourists alike. https://www.tazastreetkitchen.com/
Santa Barbara’s only rooftop restaurant and lounge is back under a new name and theme. Former Chomp on the Rocks and Salty at the Beach locations combine under a unified brand, Anchor Rose. The location is exactly what Santa Barbara is famous for, natural beauty, harbor and ocean views. The menu is influenced by the sea and surf along with Santa Barbara’s rich roots in Spanish culture. Enjoy craft cocktails and tapas for a midday snack or check out the full menu for dinner and drinks. While the views and food looks posh, Anchor Rose promises a laid-back atmosphere and flip-flops are always welcomed. http://theanchorrose.com/
Not to be missed, newly opened for dinner in Santa Barbara
Inspired by vintage Las Vegas steakhouses and given a dose of modern dining style, Chef Brad Wise brings the well-known Rare Society steakhouse to Santa Barbara. Reservations are recommended at this sure-to-be dinner and drinks hot spot. Diners will enjoy cuts of dry-aged ribeyes, wagyu, and tri-tip, in addition to oysters, lobster, snow crab, prawns, seafood towers and more, as well as a wide selection of family style side dishes and cocktail menu. https://raresociety.com/santa-barbara
Reunion Kitchen + Drink
Modern comfort and innovative interpretations of traditional food favorites is the way Reunion describes itself. This restaurant sits inside the recently renovated Cabrillo Pavilion directly on the beach with indoor and patio dining. The menu includes a large variety of snack plates alongside Reunion entrees and traditional beach dishes with new flair, like beer battered fish & chips, tequila lime shrimp, miso-glazed sea bass, turkey pot pie, BBQ glazed meatloaf and even “Dad’s Ribeye.” Of course, there are plenty of sandwiches and burgers on the menu too. Whether it’s an evening dinner for two or a family affair, Reunion Kitchen + Drink is a can’t miss. http://reunionkitchen.net/#top-section
With patio seating overlooking the beautiful sunken gardens of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Courthouse Tavern is a winner. This restaurant is a welcomed addition for locals and tourists alike, as Happy Hour runs all day here and includes drinks and small plates. The bar serves craft cocktails, beer and wine and the all-day menu consists of simple yet satisfying options – from appetizers, such as wings or calamari, to burgers and sandwiches, as well as salads and entrees. Don’t miss the desserts, which include Kahlua tiramisu, double chocolate cake or apple bread pudding. This is a great spot for meeting friends or family any time of the day. https://sbtavern.com/
Where to stay in Santa Barbara that’s near restaurants and cafes.
Santa Barbara culture is rich in food and history. That means wherever you stay with Haller Coastal Homes will be just a block or two away from plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes, whether newly opened or old favorites. Stay in one of our short-term vacation rental homes near Downtown restaurants, Funk Zone bars and popular Santa Barbara beachside spots. Live like a local in one of our coastal rental homes where breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks are within steps of your front door. Search vacation rentals in Santa Barbara and book your dates today!
Planning your trip to Santa Barbara? There’s so much you can explore in Santa Barbara on your own, but some of the best tours are led by the pro’s. Downtown Santa Barbara and its surroundings can be seen and experienced through a variety of guided tours that aim to entertain, educate and excite or relax. From hot-rod vehicle tours to leisurely trolley tours along the American Riviera to intrepid kayaking, spectacular whale watching or tasty wine and food tours, there’s a fun guided tour for everyone.
So get to know Santa Barbara a little bit better without having to research and do the planning all on your own. Leave it to these local sightseeing tour companies to show you around during your next vacation in Santa Barbara.
Captain Jack’s Santa Barbara Tours
Celebrate any occasion in Santa Barbara with Captain Jack’s Santa Barbara Tours. Choose from a variety of local sightseeing tours that include wine tasting, vineyard tours or beer/distillery tours, or for the more active, there’s horseback riding, ocean kayaking and hiking trips, and even whale watching. And not to leave out the intellectual, there’s also a historical/architectural tour where you will visit important local sites and learn all about the history and architecture of Santa Barbara. Our list here is by no means comprehensive, so check out Captain Jack’s website for a full list of tours. Interested in trying more than one adventure? No problem. Combine activities or design a custom tour. Captain Jack’s staff and expert guides aim to make your local day tour as special as can be while showing you the rich beauty of Santa Barbara. https://www.captainjackstours.com/
Santa Barbara Trolley Company
If you’ve spent some time in Santa Barbara before, you might have seen this cute red trolly around town. Santa Barbara Trolley Company is Santa Barbara’s original and longest running trolly tour and charter service. See Santa Barbara in comfort while seated on one of these newly renovated trolleys. These fully narrated tours hit all the local hot spots, such as the Santa Barbara Courthouse, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Mission and more, and are ideal for those who aren’t able to do full walking tours. Visit Santa Barbara Trolley’s website to view a sneak peak of tour highlights. Tickets for the 90-hour daily tour are surprisingly affordable. And for special occasions, such as corporate events, engagement parties or weddings, trolleys can be chartered, too. The SB trolley tour is a classic the whole family will enjoy. https://sbtrolley.com/
Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo
Here’s another way to get around town that both kids, teens and parents will equally enjoy. Oh yeah! Who can resist this long, yellow beauty? Cruise around town with seating for eight people, this convertible hot rod limousine will certainly turn heads and is a fun and unique way to see Santa Barbara. Past tourists rave about the expert and knowledgable drivers who are also your personal tour guides. Tours include narration and background music by the Beach Boys! Tours last approximately 60-minute or 2-hour +/-, and there are options for holiday tours and charters. Check the Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo website for more details, FAQ and to view the photo gallery and video of a past tour taken by an enthusiastic guest. https://santabarbarahotrodlimo.com/
Land Shark Tours
Voted “best city and harbor tours of Santa Barbara” and one of the “top 10 cool things to do in California,” the Land Shark is Santa Barbara’s original amphibious tour vehicle. And if you’ve spent any time in Santa Barbara, you might have seen it pass by full of giddy UCSB college kids celebrating a 21st birthday. It’s true, the Land Sharks can be reserved exclusively for a group of up to 42 passengers, and includes a digital sound system with LED lighting – perfect for those private birthday parties! But the Land Shark’s public tour isn’t just for bright young college things. Fun for all ages, the 90-minute narrated land and sea tour adventure begins just west of Stearns Wharf and winds through the streets of Santa Barbara to view historical landmarks and SB attractions and beachside. But the fun doesn’t stop there, as this amphibious tour vehicle then enters the ocean via Santa Barbara harbor for the second leg of its tour. Learn about Stearns Wharf and see marine life, such as sea lions, dolphins and sometimes whales. The Land Shark Tour in Santa Barbara is a must-do. Visit https://landsharktours.com/ to check tour times and to make reservations.
Santa Barbara Adventure Company
Featured in numerous press and winner of USA Today’s 10 Best, as well as a Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor, Santa Barbara Adventure Company has been creating fun-filled adventure tours for 20-plus years. Visit their website and choose the type of tour and adventure you seek. Do you want to explore the Channel Islands National Park vis sea cave kayak tours, snorkel tours or a combination of both? Want to try surfing or stand-up paddle in the Pacific Ocean? There are even wine tours and cupcake and wine tours! You can even book a private wine country shuttle, a popular trip for a bachelorette party. Whether you’re a single traveler to Santa Barbara, a couple, or soon to be married, there’s a tour for you at SB Adventure Co. https://www.sbadventureco.com/
Free Santa Barbara Walking Tours
A winner of the Tripadvisor Travelers Choice award and voted #1 walking tour, Free Santa Barbara Walking Tours is a gem. Choose from three free walking tours – yes, we said free!
The Waterfront Tour
The Waterfront Tour is the most comprehensive tour offering insight into Santa Barbara’s rich history and the people and events that shaped the city and its fame as the American Riviera. The walking tour is about 105 minutes with 11 stops and discusses topics ranging from the Channel Islands, construction of the harbor, Santa Barbara’s rich Spanish-Colonial architecture, the Chumash and more. Guests will also view old 11×17 photographs that help illustrate the story.
The Funk Zone Tour
The Funk Zone Tour takes guests on a walking tour of the former warehouse district now dubbed The Funk Zone, a vibrant and artistic area brimming with wine bars, craft beer pubs and gastro eateries, art galleries and boho-chic boutiques. This 90-minute tour has 12 stops where you’ll learn about the evolution of this district and events shaping local history, as well as Santa Barbara’s identity as a premier wine lover’s destination. This tour allows guests a chance to win a McConnell’s ice cream and get a copy of a Funk Zone Map listing more than 60 wineries, brew pubs, restaurants and art studios in the district.
Old Town Tour
The newly added Old Town Tour combines history and architecture in a 90-minute tour exploring Santa Barbara’s original town center – the 400-600 blocks of State Street. Learn about important historical events that defined the Spanish-Colonial character of the city, view the Brinkerhoff Victorian District of the late 1800’s, and finally, come back into the 21st century with a visit to three of architect Jeff Shelton’s buildings, popular attractions in their own right.
All tours are led by long-time and passionate residents of Santa Barbara. All three tours include an option to buy a wine tasting voucher at just an additional $10/person, good for a five-taste flight at Santa Barbara Winery. Now, you can’t beat that! Visit Free Santa Barbara Walking Tours website for information on how to book one of the three free tours and for more details and video. Tours are indeed free and if you enjoyed your tour, feel free to tip the tour guide. Private tours can also be booked for a fee. Check the website for more information. https://freewalkingtoursb.com/
Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours
Eat and drink your way through Santa Barbara. Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours will bring out the foodie in you. These fun and delicious tours are a great way to experience Downtown Santa Barbara. Along with food (and some alcohol) tasting experiences, guests will learn a little about local history. These Santa Barbara walking food and drink tours offer something for even the most discerning palates. Choose from the original Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour or the new, Not Just Taco Tuesday Tour perfect for Mexican and Spanish food lovers, or the Hold the Food History Tour – ideal for those on a diet or who would rather just focus on the history, architecture and culture and maybe finish with a wine tasting experience. View the Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours website for a list of tours and private tour options, as well. https://www.tastesantabarbarafoodtours.com/
Totally Cali Tours
If you’re looking for a tour but have no idea what to do or are stumped for ideas, check out Totally Cali Tours. They offer an abundant variety of tours in the Santa Barbara and Central Coast areas. With tours covering Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez wine country, Solvang, Los Olivos and down to Ojai, you’ll be able to make the most of your trip to the Central Coast with a trip by Totally Cali Tours. Most tours focus around wine, breweries, food and/or history and walking tours. Visit the website for an extensive list of tours, including private charter options and holiday lights tours in December. https://totallycalitours.com/
Tour Santa Barbara and book a vacation rental home
Whether it’s your first trip to Santa Barbara or whether you’re a returning guest, there’s always something new to experience. Don’t just stop at one tour, there’s endless beauty along the American Riviera, so keep coming back for more! Each tour will help you and your party experience as much as possible during your time in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara sightseeing tours are also the perfect way to celebrate a special event, anniversary or birthday. Bring your friends, family and even pets and rent a short-term vacation rental home with Haller Coastal Homes. Enjoy comfort and plenty of space fit for several guests under one roof. Stay in one of our conveniently located vacation rental homes and reach out to the above Santa Barbara local sightseeing tour companies to book an experience where you can make memories with friends and family that will last a lifetime.