How to Plan the Perfect Summer Trip to Santa Barbara

Let’s be honest, America has some pretty fantastic cities (New Orleans, we’re looking at you), but of all the cities in all the world, it’s Santa Barbara that we at EcoPro call home. From its majestic beaches to the beautiful red-tile rooftops, EcoPro wouldn’t be EcoPro without this beautiful metropolis as our backdrop. With an office ready to greet visitors, we put together a little summer tourism guide to help entice physical therapists around the nation to come on out and spend some time in Santa Barbara.

Below are our top picks for spending a summer in Santa Barbara.

How to Spend a Summer in Santa Barbara

Where to Stay

Hotel Indigo – Santa Barbara

With its stunning design, the Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara is the perfect home base for your exploration of everything Santa Barbara has to offer. The hotel is only one block away from the beach and close to Santa Barbara’s legendary Funk Zone. The onsite Santa Mezcal restaurant will ensure you’re fueled up for whatever Santa Barbara adventures await you during your stay.

Additional Option: Holiday Inn Express Santa Barbara

Where to Take the Kiddos

Santa Barbara Zoo

Pack up the kids and spend the afternoon with some of the wildest Santa Barbara residents. From koalas and otters to gorillas and turtles, the Santa Barbara Zoo is the perfect place to get your wildlife fix while in Santa Barbara.

Want even more animal time? The party doesn’t have to stop when the zoo closes. In fact, the Santa Barbara Zoo welcomes families to camp overnight in the zoo during its Safari Sleepovers.

Additional Option: MOXI The Wolf Museum of Exploration & Innovation


Where to Take the Nature Lover

Lotus Land

One of the top botanical gardens in the world Lotus Land is 37 beautiful acres of manicured gardens. Visitors can meander along winding trails as they enjoy butterfly gardens, cactus gardens, orchards collect, and even topiary masterpieces.

The highlight of the summer is the annual LotusFest! Taking place this year on July 8, this wine and beer tasting festival provides a unique opportunity for guests to spend the afternoon exploring the garden while sampling the area’s finest wines and craft beers.

Additional Option: The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden


Where to Take the Site Seer

Santa Barbara Old Mission

Still, in use by Franciscan Friars, the Santa Barbara Mission has been a part of Santa Barbara for over 200 years.   The mission was founded in 1786 and has since become the chief cultural and historic landmark of the great city of Santa Barbara. Peruse the grounds, tour the church, or attend one of several summer events, the Santa Barbara Old Mission provides a unique experience to tourists and residents alike.

Additional Option: Stearns Wharf

Additional Option: Santa Barbara Court Courthouse

Where to Take the Hiker

Inspiration Point

While there are dozens of hikes in and around Santa Barbara, our top pick must be Inspiration Point.  This 3.5-mile hike is a moderately difficult as the trail winds uphill under shady chaparral. The view from the top is amazing as you can look out over the city, the ocean, and even the Channel Islands beyond.

Want a pro tip? Be sure to catch the summit at sundown to watch the sun slowly set into the Pacific. Just be sure to bring flashlights to help make it down the trail after dark.


Where to Take the Water Lover

Paddle Sports Center

What’s a visit to Santa Barbara’s beautiful coastline without a ride over the crystalline waters of the Pacific? The Paddle Sports Center has been fulfilling the Kayak, SUP, and surf rental needs of tourists and residents for years. While on the water, don’t be surprised to find yourself encountering seabirds, sea lions, dolphins, and even whales.

Additional Option: Sunset Kidd Sailing Cruises


Where to Take the Foodie

Finney’s Crafthouse and Kitchen

This locally owned and operated restaurant and bar serves up an upscale menu in a casual dining setting. The menu includes delicious flatbreads, crispy tacos, and delicious burgers.  They also offer 30 craft beers on a rotating draft list. Many local to California. Their outdoor patio is the perfect spot to catch a late dinner and enjoy the warm Santa Barbara nights.

Additional Option: Toma Restaurant and Bar

Where to Take the Wine/Beer Connoisseur

Funk Zone

Sample dozens of wines and beers as your tour the Santa Barbara Funk Zone. This eclectic neighborhood is home to boutique restaurants, shops, winery tasting rooms and some of the best breweries in the city. In between drinks, be sure to visit the area art galleries, shop the vintage and modern stores, and take a walking tour of featured street art.


Where to Take the Seafood Lover

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

No trip to the California coast is complete without sampling the mouthwatering bounty of the adjacent ocean. The best local clams, oysters, and crabs find themselves being served up Santa Barbara shell-crushers for decades.  Our picks go with the Oyster Rockefeller and a Calamari Sandwich. All washed down with a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc of course.

Additional Option: Arigato Sushi

Where to Take the Night Owl

Joe’s Cafe

Ask any Santa Barbara native where the best nightlife in the city is and they’ll tell you, “You gotta go to Joe’s!” Joe’s Café has been serving great steaks and stiff cocktails in Santa Barbara since 1928. To read the history of Joe’s Café is to read the history of America. Started by an Italian immigrant in 1928, Joe’s thoughtful capitalization of the end of prohibition propels Joe’s Café into the limelight. If the history doesn’t compel you to visit, keep in mind that Joe’s Café has won “Stiffest Drink” in the Best of Santa Barbara more than 11 times.

Additional Option: Wildcat Lounge


Whether you’re a seafood-loving, hiking enthusiasts, or a wine-sipping standup paddleboard nut, Santa Barbara is the perfect destination for your summer vacation.

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Brook Phillips