give yourself the day off, we’re going to santa barbara

Old Santa Barbara Mission

Address: 2201 Laguna Street Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Expense: F R E E – There is a parking lot that has plenty of parking when I went on a Sunday afternoon with some people around. But most of them visited the Historical Park rather than the mission itself. So it wasn’t too crowded.

I found this place literally by googling “places to go in Santa Barbara”, and I’m glad I found it! I read up on the history of how it was established in 1786, got nearly wrecked by two major earthquakes, and after extensive rebuilding, it has been standing since 1925! Seeing it in person was astonishing because it still looks like it’s in good shape.

Since COVID, you could do self-guided tours around the mission. I wish I did so but I was on a bit of a time crunch.

Outside of the mission, you can also find a cute fountain, and across the street, you will find Mission Historical Park where you can see people picnicking and hanging out by the beautiful rose garden.

Old Mission is only 5 minutes away from the Santa Barbara Public Market, so you could grab some food (option of where to try down below) and spend a couple of hours picnicking at the park across the street while looking at the view of the mission. Once you’re done with your food, you can get some photo opportunities by the rose garden or by walking around the mission.

Chromatic Gate

Address: 721 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Expense: Free!

I honestly don’t have anything to say except you should go visit this pretty installation when you visit Santa Barbara!! We went on a Sunday around 6 pm, there were very few people around, and the lighting was just perfect! We parked across the street because that’s where the closest parking we found was + it’s free! Read for the street signs to be sure of the parking enforcement!

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Expense: Admission is $16 for adults, $12 for seniors (60+), $10 for students with ID, and $8 for youth (3-17). Parking is free!

The Botanic Garden is open every day from 10 am – 5 pm and the last admission is at 4:30 pm. These pictures were taken last year. I wanted to visit this garden because I was feeling FOMO from all the pretty spring pictures everyone was posting and was hoping to find some good spring pictures here.

Don’t get me wrong, I got some cute nature pictures, but I guess there weren’t as many flowers as I thought there would be (I went in May). Regardless, I’m glad I got to visit because the experience is different from other gardens I’ve been to and I wish the camera quality was good enough to give nature some justice.

This botanic garden is so great because there were so many sections to explore! There are 5.5 miles of paths to discover within the garden. This time I only got to check out the meadow, the redwood section, the arroyo, and the desert area. I came in around 5 pm (they changed their hours in 2022, but they used to close at 6 pm) and was glad I got to see almost half of the sections the Botanic Garden has to offer!

If you would like to come to check out the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, I would advise you to give yourself at least two hours to check everything out!

Reminder to watch your step where you walk because the pathway can be uneven. Don’t forget to bring water, wear sunscreen, and spray on some bug repellent because there might be mosquitos around! Luckily I didn’t get bitten by any but just beware!

Santa Barbara Zoo

Address: 500 Ninos Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Expense: Tickets are $19.95 per adult, $14.95 per adult (ages 2-12), and Parking is $11 per vehicle

The Santa Barbara Zoo is home to 146 species of animals, however, due to COVID safety regulations, you may not be able to see all of them. Overall, this zoo reminds me of a park with the way it is designed. It’s super spacious with trees and lawns wherever you walk, but you can still see all the animals within 2-3 hours of walking in the zoo.

If you do plan on visiting, take note of the weather to make sure it’s perfect so you can see more of the animals! We were hoping to see the lions and gorillas, but it was cloudy and raining that day so they were most likely sleeping or hiding🙁 Other than that, it was a cool experience! There are parts of the zoo with beautiful scenery where you can take lots of cute pics like the last picture above!

When we went in October 2020, the concession stands were closed so we didn’t get to try the food or snacks there. But maybe it’s different now! If you do plan to go, please remember to get your tickets in advance through their website! I like the idea that you have to reserve a time slot to go, so that way you don’t have to worry about long lines as soon as they open to get in.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Address: 1100 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Expense: Parking for the first 75 minutes is free, so if you’re out of there before the 75 minutes… your expense is nothing!

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is so gorgeous. I’ve walked by people taking pictures for their wedding and picnicking out in the sunken garden. There’s so much you can do here.

I wanted to visit the Clock Tower, but when I went to go visit, it was closed due to COVID. But if it’s open now, and you’re able to go, GO CHECK IT OUT. There’s a 360° view of Santa Barbara you simply do not want to miss.

The Courthouse was one of the places I wanted to visit most when I made my itinerary because I heard about all the gorgeous details that go into it. Again, I went during COVID so I wasn’t able to tour the rooms. So if it’s open now, I wouldn’t want to skip this spot!

If you happen to visit, take your time. Take in all the details from the sunken garden to the ceiling in the mural room to the outside of the courthouse. There’s so much in the details people tend to skip. If you happen to go, let me know how you like it and if it’s currently open!

The thing I love about Santa Barbara is that these places I mentioned are not too far from each other and you can easily check them all out in one day. So if you happen to want to do a day trip, these are all great spots to stop by!

Have any recommendations of where to go in Santa Barbara next time I go? Drop a comment down below!

Did I convince you to check out Santa Barbara? Add these places to eat to your itinerary!

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