Top 10 Free Things to Do in Santa Barbara, CA

California, City Travel — By on June 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm
Santa BarbaraBy Connie K. Ho
Special to Lost Girls 

Aqua green water sparkles in the sun next to sandy white beaches. Spanish-styled architecture sits atop a hill with breathtaking mountain views. Smooth jazz melodies can be heard in the distance. Santa Barbara is great for a getaway weekend or an adventure to explore the great outdoors. Here’s a list of some exciting activities that won’t drain your bank account.

View the arts and crafts on Cabrillo Boulevard

Art of all types is celebrated in Santa Barbara, especially at the Sunday arts and crafts show on Cabrillo Boulevard. You can find all sorts of styles, including pottery, photography, watercolor – you name it, it’ll probably be on display there.

Snap a photo with the Dolphin Fountain at Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is a historical site, dating all the way back to 1872. The Dolphin Fountain is at the start of the wharf and is said to welcome all of the visitors to the site. There are many things to check out on the wharf, including people fishing and others enjoying fine dining.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Located in downtown Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a stunning example of Spanish architecture. Each view of the building gives you a different perspective. In the past, the courthouse was used for government purposes but now visitors come to see the murals and the gardens.

Santa Barbara Old Mission

The mission has a beautiful courtyard. Every so often, there are festivals at the Santa Barbara Old Mission that visitors can attend. Check out this site that’s known as the “Queen of the Missions.”

Walk around the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Students at the University of California, Santa Barbara study hard and play hard. It’s no wonder that they can do both with the lush campus. Highlights of the campus tour include a visit to the lagoon as well as a view of the beach that sits right next to some residence halls and buildings.

Wander around Goleta Beach

Goleta Beach sits adjacent to UCSB. It has beautiful views of the oceans and the cliffs of Santa Barbara. Grab a towel, some sunscreen, a hat, a pair of sunglasses, a cold beverage and you’re good to go.

Hike up to Inspiration Point

It’s a moderate hike that many locals will run and jog on. Those who visit Inspiration Point are in awe of the scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara, and the Santa Ynez Mountains. For hiking on the weekends, it’s best to park farther down as the parking lot near the beginning of the hike tends to get crowded.

Listen to music at Concerts in the Park

During the summer time, the city will host Concerts in the Park where families and friends can gather to enjoy live music. Many different musicians take the stage, including those who play in the genres of country, Caribbean, and pop. Feel free to bring a lawn chair, a blanket, chairs, and get ready to dance or chow down on a picnic with lovely melodies in the background.

Make a day trip to Solvang and visit the Solvang Historical Museum

About an hour’s drive from Santa Barbara, Solvang is a quaint city that has building inspired by Swedish architecture. Visitors will be amazed by the many windmills and the colorful, decorative exterior designed. The Solvang Historical Museum gives a glimpse into the history and heritage of Solvang. A few marvels include the antique furniture and the lush courtyard. For those planning on make a trip, take note that the museum is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Drive to Solvang for the Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Princess and the Pea. Thumbelina. The Little Mermaid. These are just a few of the stories that were penned by Swedish author Hans Christian Andersen. The museum, operated by the Ugly Duck Foundation, features the beloved children’s book author’s works, mementos, and displays about his life. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the The Book Loft Building (1680 Mission Drive).

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    1 Comment

  • Torrence says:

    These are some good suggestions for some free things to do around one expensive city. Hiking is also great, there are a ton of trails and if you go in the right season, it is honestly the best place to be. The Butterfly Refuge is wonderful in the spring time when the monarchs are there too. If you are looking to save a good amount of money, The Sandman Inn ( is a great and budget friendly hotel close to a lot of different sections of town.