This year’s “Polar Vortex” has prompted a few more Americans to dream of the Golden State's sunny, seventy-five degree coasts. With no traffic compared to the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, Santa Barbara boasts an incredible coastal experience right in the heart of downtown with Stearns Wharf, East Beach, and West Beach. For long-time residents or those seeking some heavenly sunshine after a long winter, a Sunday in Santa Barbara offers a perfect weekend getaway to play outside under a blue sky and warm sun with family, friends, or work buddies.
Carve a Sunday out of the routine to explore Santa Barbara's beaches, also known as the American Riviera. Just across from the wharf, Wheel Fun Rentals will get you rolling on your choice of bicycle, tricycle, rollerblades, or even one of their popular four-wheeled Surreys. The Cabrillo Beach bike path leads riders from Stearns Wharf and East Beach through Chase Palm Park, to the Santa Barbara Zoo , the Andrew Clark Bird Refuge, and on to the luxurious Butterfly Beach. Take the path in the opposite direction to the panoramic views of the Channel Islands from Shoreline Park's Bluffs. Park your bikes (don't forget a lock) and take the hundred-something steps down to the beach. Soothe your toes in the tide pools!
Fuel your journey by grabbing lunch along the beach or downtown. Check out Lilly's Tacqueria or Backyard Bowls for lunch at the end of Chapala St. downtown. On the Alley , which is located just inside the Harbor, provides an easy stop along the Cabrillo path. With sunglasses and a beach cruiser, it's a pleasant glide on the smoothly paved Cabrillo path.
Slow down for the weekly Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Showthat comes to life along the pedestrian sidewalk adjacent to the bike path every Sunday from 10am until dusk. Over 200 local artists come to share their creativity with the community, sell art, and bask in the beautiful grassy beach park. Wander through the booths and you will see stunning photography, paintings, sculptures, pottery, and much more to inspire your inner artist. Celebrating 50 years of art-sharing this year, the Mediterranean-style art show among the palm trees along Cabrillo exhibits some of the finest aspects of the city, so be sure to stop and chat with the artists in their booths.
As evening approaches, catch the sunset from the end of the wharf or along the breakwater in the harbor, and head to Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar for the authentic seafood experience. With its harbor location you can practically watch the boats bring in the day's catch while you whet your appetite in the clam bar downstairs. Hopefully, you won't need to leave too soon after dinner because the stars can be quite clear from the beach. If you're lucky and a little patient, you may even catch some bioluminescence in the surf after dark.