Santa Barbara is a vibrant community with lots of attractions and events happening all the time, making it an ideal spot for students who are keen to balance a busy social life alongisde their studies.
The Waterfront: There aren’t many better spots in Santa Barbara to hit up than the busy Waterfront area, where there is always something going on, There is a great range of bars and restaurants in the area with wonderful views over the water.
State Street shopping: This huge street which runs through Santa Barbara, just a few minutes from campus, is a haven for shopaholics. There is a huge range of stores, from global brands to independent boutiques and a healthy choice of bars and restaurants for when you need a break from shopping.
1st Thursday: On the 1st Thursday of every month downtown Santa Barbara hosts a celebration of art and culture. You can visit a number of free art events hosted by local stores and galleries around State Street – often with complimentary wine and music!
Movie Theaters: Santa Barbara has an impressive choice of movie theaters, and within a mile of the campus you have 4 different options where you can find everything from the latest blockbusters to small independent releases. The closest option, just a few minutes off campus, is the Metro 4 Theatre.
Lobero Theatre: This historic music theater in downtown SB has bags of character and is always worth a visit. They have a varied and unique program of theatre and live music – often attracting big names for relatively intimate performances with only 900 seats.
Lotusland: Just a short drive away from the campus you can find these perfectly maintained botanical gardens, which are a natural haven in the middle of urban Santa Barbara. With a stunning combination of rare plants, unique architecture and water features; this is a tranquil place to spend some time away from studying.
Watersports: The area has the ideal natural resources to enjoy some adventurous watersports. Thrill-seekers would be best to acquaint themselves with the local Santa Barbara Adventure Company; especially popular is their kayaking through the caves of Santa Cruz Island experience and their bicycle wine tours.
Wine tasting: Santa Barbara is in the heart of wine country and there are many tours and tastings to experience close to campus. Among the most popular local tours you can take are those with the Sustainable Vine Wine Tours Company, Grapeline or the Backroads Wine tour.
Visit The Funk Zone: The Funk Zone is the name given to a downtown hub of artisan shops, art galleries and eateries. This area has a cool and cultured vibe which appeals to the many artists and bohemians in the area. Down here you will find a contemporary art museum, a craft distillery, multiple microbreweries, and plenty of hip cafes and bars.
Live Music: Santa Barbara has a thriving live music scene and an array of venues which attract the very best in local touring bands to the city. You can catch the latest concerts at venues such as Santa Barbara Bowl, Ventura Theater, SOhO Music Club, Lobero Theatre and more.
Restaurants & Bars in Santa Barbara
Backyard Bowls: These unique breakfast bowls are the perfect way to kick-start your day before class, as you won’t find a better healthy breakfast anywhere in Santa Barbara. Generous servings of fresh fruit, yogurt, juices and tons of other locally sourced organic ingredients make the perfect fuel for a day of studying!
Toma: This popular Italian down by the Harbor is the perfect place when you’re looking for a classy meal without an obscene price-tag. The restaurant has a busy but laid back atmosphere and serves a huge range of traditional Italian favorites.
Santa Barbara Brewing Co: This bar and restaurant near campus is theideal place to hang out, enjoy a few specialty beers and watch live sports. A wide selection of craft beers and tasty menu options means there is something to please everyone at Santa Barbara Brewing Co.
The Black Sheep: This little restaurant sits just off the busy State Street, and is a perfect spot to escape the busy crowds on weekends. Their small but perfectly formed menu offers a number of unique options, with the seafood and ramen being particular specialties.
Lilac Patisserie: Those with a sweet tooth will love this new bakery and deli on State Street. Lilac is unique due to the fact that everything on the menu is entirely gluten-free – which is amazing for those with allergies.
Cold Spring Tavern: This bar is a little far out from campus, but is well worth the 20 minute drive. Cold Spring Tavern is a local treasure which has been open since 1941, nestled in the hills behind Santa Barbara. Don’t let its rustic look and remote location fool you, this is one of the best spots in California – be sure to try their famous tri tip sandwiches.
James Joyce: This traditional Irish style pub has a casual and comfortable atmosphere which is perfect for quiet drinks. There is often live music on the weekends and the long-standing jukebox has one of the best selections in town.
Neighborhood: This casual bar located close to campus is a popular spot with students, thanks to its fun-loving approach to decor. At Neighborhood you will find pool tables, Ping-Pong, foosball and loads of other fun games which you can partake in with friends – all while enjoying the great lineup of drinks promos and affordable bar food.
Deep Sea Tasting Room: This wine tasting hotspot on the pier by Stearns Wharf has an exceptional location offering ocean views while sampling the many fine wines from the surrounding region. The calming views over the ocean make this a great place to unwind and get away from studying.
The Pickle Room: This intimate cocktail bar is a long-time favorite of many locals, and it’s easy to see why. With a cozy atmosphere, an extensive selection of expertly crafted cocktails, and a delicious menu of deli food, you will find plenty of fun here.
Find out more about Student Life at Santa Barbara: