What to do in and around Santa Barbara, CA (need answer fast)

I leave for Santa Barbara, CA tomorrow morning. This is a trip I’ll actually have spare time to enjoy the destination. I’m there for 4 days. I’ve neglected to look into how I might spend my spare time there so am hoping people here might have some suggestions.

I like Hiking, good food, and architecture. The Guy I’m going to be staying with is more of a hide inside and play on the computer type of guy, so I can’t get to adventurous but smaller steps to drag him out would be good. Neither of us are beach people, I’ll walk near the beaches for the view but I doubt I’d even venture into the sand.

We have a car and can drive anywhere reasonable but I’d prefer to avoid wasting much time on longer excursions.

Help me out here, what should I do. What can’t be missed?

I’d consider driving up Gibraltar Road to E. Cielito Road. You get a nice ridge line drive with incredible views of both SB and the coast, as well as the inland portion of the range. Lots of little hiking opportunities without committing to a long excursion.

Both the Mission and the Courthouse tours are worthwhile.

Go pound on Oprah’s door and ask for a handout (just kidding, the snipers will take you out at a thousand yards).

The botanical gardens are nice if you like that sort of thing, and the natural history museum is surprisingly good for its size.

Santa Barbara Brewing Company on State St. has good food and great beer. Spend an afternoon there.

The Zoo is worth going to. Even if you don’t like animals, there are lots of beautiful ocean vistas.

As mentioned the Botanic Gardens are nice.

Inspiration Point is a great hike in Santa Barbara:

Montecito Peak is another good hike.

Just walking up and down State Street is fun. Lots of bars and restaurants and shops to check out. Go in to Borders and peruse their wares! (Ok ok. I haven’t lived there in a few years. Take some of this with a grain of salt!)

OH man. Now, I am sad. I was going to send you to my favorite pizza place, Paesano’s. I went to Yelp to make sure it was still opened and found out it got sold. If they stuck to the old recipes, fine. But, who knows? So, forget that.

Go to Super Cucas, instead.

Just take a walk anywhere. It’s a beautiful city. Have fun!

Moving from Cafe Society to IMHO.

I’m only vaguely familiar with Santa Barbara, so I can make limited suggestions:
[ul][li] Visit the Mission (as already suggested above).[/li][li] There is a museum just a block or two “uphill” from there. I don’t even recall if that is the same as the natural history museum mentioned just above.[/li][li] More or less across the street from that is a large park, with some limited hiking trails.[/li][li] A ways further up that same hill is the Botanic Garden, already mentioned above. Definitely worth a visit. It’s a bit of hike just walking around there. Note that there is more of the Botanic Garden across the street from the parking lot too, which you might not notice.[/li][/ul]
Some other things to do: For outdoor recreation and hiking, visit Lake Cachuma, a fairly short drive to the north. Not too much farther a drive, you can visit Solvang (touristy town with Danish motif) and nearby Santa Ynez (wineries, another Mission, small airport where they might still have glider rides, little local history museum)

Or, near the downtown area, spend a few hours relaxing at the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club. :wink:

Too bad you aren’t visiting there in mid-June. They have a huge Summer Solstice Parade on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice. It a fun parade, in Mardi Gras style – except that it’s held in the summer instead of the winter, and during the day instead of in the cold rainy winter evening.

ETA: And see if your library has a copy of the cutesy story Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore, that you can borrow and bring along to read. The opening scenes of the story are set in Santa Barbara.

Border’s is long gone. There are no more bookstores in downtown SB.

Anyway, welcome to my town and my favorite place on Earth, boytyperanma. You’ll be here for some gorgeous weather.

As others have said, check out the Mission, the Courthouse, the Precidio, State Street, the beaches, the wharf and the harbor. You will love the architecture here.

There are lots of awesome hikes and with trail heads that are less than a ten minute drive from the heart of downtown. They range from easy to somewhat strenuous.

Besides State Street, downtown/lower village Montecito is worth checking out as well for shopping and food. You may well see some celebrities walking around as well.

Many great restaurants here. To get you started:
Sushi: Arigato on State.
Mexican: Los Arroyos on Victoria just off of State or the other location in Montecito. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try one of the more authentic places on Haley or Milpas.
Italian: Ca’Dario on Victoria.
Middle Eastern: Zaytoon on Canon Perdido where you can smoke hookahs on the patio.
Fusion/American: Hungry Cat on Chapala. Cielito is fairly new and amazing; it’s in the La Arcata off of State. Santa Ynez Ranch in Montecito is pricey but outstanding.
Breakfast: Cajun Kitchen on De La Vina or Chapala.
Best New Place: Scarlet Begonia in Victoria Court

For music, my favorite little club is Soho in Victoria Court. Not sure what is going on this weekend. Also the historic Lobero Theater on Canon Perdido. It’s the oldest continuing operating theater in California. There is an interesting Americana/folk band playing this weekend that I might check out myself.

If you’re into wine tasting (I’m not), take a trip to Los Olivos. It’s less than an hour away.

I’ve probably rambled on enough for now. Feel free to PM or ask more questions here.

Kahuna Grill on State Street has the best onion rings in the entire world.

Los Olivos is in the same neighborhood as Solvang and Santa Ynez (mentioned above). So if you’re into a little road trip, you could hit up all those areas in one day.

Whale watching might be worthwhile. I like to book the all day trip because it brings you out to the islands and maybe to the world’s largest sea cave on Santa Cruz Island (big enough to sail into). It’s usually worthwhile to check and see what’s been sighted lately. Supposedly they just saw a pod of 2000 dolphins, plus humpbacks. We quite often get to see blue whales which used to be super rare, but they’ve been feeding on krill out by the islands for 10 or 15 years now.

If you are around on Tuesday, the farmer’s market on State Street is great for hanging out at bars and people watching.

Oh yeah, it’s the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival at the Mission. It’s chalk painting on the asphalt and there’s a couple people who are really good at it.

Check out the Independent to see what’s going on.

In Santa Ynez there’s an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Gappolo. There service is excellent, the food is great, I love it there. My wife and I had our wedding reception there.

Yeah, dumb joke.
Barnes and Nobles closed up, too? That’s a shame. This seems like the perfect time for the Earthling to reappear! Book sellers are needed on State Street!

Another thought: the Arlington is a fun place to see a movie. Nice movie palace, very pretty building.

I second the Cajun Kitchen recommendation. Delicious food of all sorts, and comfortable booths.

Chaucer’s is the last man standing. It’s a great book store on Upper State but not worth a special trip for a tourist.

I thought I read that there was a new bookstore opening, maybe even in that space that had been the outdoor gear place?

If you do go don’t be like my friends and me who ordered a ton of food. Their portions are huge!

If you like architecture, you might enjoy seeing the Ablitt house - a 5 story house
built on a 20 X 20 foot lot.