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15 Awesome Places to Check Out in Santa Barbara

So going to UCSB is pretty much going to school in paradise. Looking out of the library and seeing the beach and being able to live in front of the ocean are just some of the perks that come along with going to school at UCSB. But students sometimes fail to explore outside of Isla Vista, the college town that borders the UCSB campus. Santa Barbara is a beautiful area, and there are so many unique activities to do in this town. Here are a few awesome places for you and your friends to check out in Santa Barbara the next weekend you guys are free! From hikes to museums, we got you covered!

1)      Knapp’s Castle

This easy one mile hike overlooks the scenic ruins of an estate home built atop the mountains behind Santa Barbara. It has a gorgeous view of the mountains of Santa Barbara.


2)      Gaviota Hot Springs

This short one mile hike leads to a warm hot springs along the trail to Gaviota Peak. The springs are beautiful and you can take a relaxing dip in once you get there!


3)      Santa Barbara Zoo

This zoo is unique because it overlooks the Pacific ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains. There is a plethora of different types of animals, and they have a botanical garden as well. And for the 21+ individuals, there are special wine and beer tours so you can sip while you view the animals!


4)      Lotusland

This would probably be the cutest place to go on a first date! This is an estate garden that has a huge selection of different flowers. Other gardens are devoted to lotuses, ferns, succulents, bromeliads, aloes and topiaries. There are also orchards, water gardens and a garden populated exclusively by plants that are different shades of blue.


5)      Lizard’s Mouth

This 0.5 mile hike leads to a unique rock formation with awe-inspiring views over Santa Barbara and the Pacific. It’s a quick hike, perfect for a morning pick-me-up! Also perfect for that Instagram picture!


6)      Inspiration Point

This hike is a little longer but it has the best panoramic views of Santa Barbara, the beach, and the Santa Ynez mountains.


7)      Stearn’s Wharf

This pier is at the edge of the famous Santa Barbara State Street and has everything from shops, restaurants, and wine tasting rooms! Fun fact: Stearn’s Wharf is actually the longest deep-water pier between San Francisco and Los Angeles.


8)      Tangerine Falls

If you’re a huge waterfall fan like me, then you’ll love this lush 2.5 mile hike that covers a canyon near the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara.



9)      Santa Barbara Museum of National History

Only a walking distance from the famous Santa Barbara Mission in the historic Mission Canyon, the Museum of Natural History has beautiful Spanish-style grounds and buildings. Exhibits include a mineral and gem gallery, Chumash Indian culture center, dioramas in the Mammal Hall, and a planetarium!


10)   Coronado Butterfly Preserve

From late October to early March, tons of monarch butterflies migrate over to spend their winter here. Entrance is free and the place is open from morning to night. It truly is a beautiful sight not to be missed.


11)   Nojoqui Falls

Since I’m a waterfall fan, here’s another one in Santa Barbara. This 0.65 mile hike reaches a beautiful fern lined waterfall. Truly perfect for nature pictures.


12)   Channel Islands National Park

If you’re willing to travel a little farther, you can check out this beautiful national park that includes kayaking and snorkeling deals. Perfect for a huge group!


13)   Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Beautiful romantic date destination because of the scenic pathways through the park. This garden was created in 1930 and it has been an extremely popular Santa Barbara attraction since then.


14)   Rattlesnake Canyon

This hike got its name because of its geographically rattlesnake shape, not because it has rattlesnakes! It is a few minutes from Santa Barbara downtown and snakes down in to the Santa Ynez mountains.



15)   El Presidio at Santa Barbara

Get in touch with your historical side by visiting this chapel and padre’s house. It will give you a glimpse into the history of California and how Santa Barbara was formed. 


Just a Bay Area girl trying to make it in the real world with the help of friends, coffee, and Drake.
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