Santa Barbara has been likened to an American Riviera – it has all the benefits of major cities like London, Buenos Aires or Sydney in its food, shopping and attractions, but at a fraction of the size and noise. Add the amazing countryside surroundings and world class restaurants and hotels and you’ve got amazing experiences ahead for you to explore with someone on your date.
The Santa Barbara Zoo – Overlooking the Pacific Ocean and spread across thirty acres, the zoo is laid out with a mix of formal gardens, open spaces and native plants. You can get up and personal to feed the animals, and for a real lasting impression you can even make a booking to feed the giraffes by hand at the Feeding Station.
The Mission Santa Barbara – Known as the Queen of the Mission stations, this beautiful church was completed in 1829 and is the only remaining Mission preserved by the Franciscans that still stands. It still serves as a parish church and contains an art museum with pieces dating back to the colonial period. Its rose garden is free to visit and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area.
Go To The Beach – Santa Barbara County has miles and miles of the most beautiful beaches in the world and is home to some of the best surfing and paddle board zones on the West Coast. Enjoy the moderate ocean temperatures and mild tides for whole days and evenings by the sea, and don’t forget the many public parks and picnic areas that border the beaches. How better to just relax and spend time with your date?
Santa Barbara Courthouse – Visitors come to the Courthouse from around the world to admire its architecture, murals and grounds. For a spectacular view across the city towards the ocean, take a trip up the El Mirador bell tower. The home of local government since 1850, the Courthouse was completed in 1929 in a Spanish-Moorish. Admission is free, although visitors are asked for donations.
Track Down Local Foodie Specialities – Santa Barbara has an amazing array of local products to match all tastes, from food and drink to unique ingredients for your own cooking adventures. Look for the Santa Barbara Olive Company for a range of stuffed and infused gourmet olives, or seek out Chocolate Maya, whose artisanal chocolates are an amazing indulgence to share with a loved one. If you prefer cooking with special ingredients, the local prawns are a speciality, best found during October and June, with the spiny lobsters available only until March. Alternatively why not try Backyard Bowls, which brings fresh organic fruit, vegetable and nut dishes to tempt your palate and promote healthier living. You’ll be reinvigorated and ready for anything for the rest of the day.
Explore State Street Downtown – The Historic Arts District is full of unique shops and cultural venues ranging from galleries, museums, historic sites and restaurants. The area is famous for the many sculptures in its streets, and the many bars, clubs and restaurants guarantee a lively night life providing multiple date options to suit all tastes.
Go On A Vineyard Tour – Whether you spend your day on the Urban Wine Trail or head up into the valley to seek out the best of Santa Barbara’s vineyards, there are plenty of places to explore. Rather than worry about who’s driving, why not try the five wineries within strolling distance in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone by the water front? The area also contains artisan shops, microbreweries and eateries. Alternatively try the Demetria Estate just outside Los Olivos. Make a reservation and be treated to a range of wines on a sunny courtyard in the middle of a large country estate.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art – This is a well-regarded museum spread out over 60,000 square feet, known for its collection of pieces by Claude Monet as well as a large number of Asian and American artists. A beautiful building with a regularly rotating set of special exhibitions throughout the year, the museum also includes a store, café, children’s gallery and library.
Take In A Show – The silent film era was launched in Santa Barbara rather than Hollywood, and people still flock to enjoy performances, whether they are on stage, in gigs, or in good old-fashioned movie houses. Take your pick from the Santa Barbara Bowl – the largest outdoor amphitheatre in the County with events all year round – or seek out the Arlington Theatre, which is the largest movie theatre and performing arts venue in the city. The Arlington hosts the Santa Barbara International Film Festival every year. If smaller venues appeal more, then look for the Center Stage Theatre in the heart of Paseo Nuevo which features weekly performances by a wide variety of artists and companies, or seek out the Lobero Theatre which hosts dance and music performances in a grand sweep of different genres.
Whatever your tastes, or those of your prospective date, you’re spoiled for choice