15 Free Things to Do in Santa Barbara 2021

Whenever someone wants to plan a trip to the United States of America, there are some famous and ravishing cities which pop up into the mind instantly. Among those cities, Santa Barbara is one of the most rigorous one which is situated in the state of California. Despite the presence of the Los Angeles city in the same state, Santa Barbara has managed to become a great delight and pleasure seeking destination for people who visit California. 

It is mainly a coastal city, which is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Being the holder of the Mediterranean climate, this city is popularly called the ‘American Riviera’ and it is also one of the most populous cities in America. Santa Barbara is mainly known for being immensely luxurious, and a playground for the rich people and celebrities from all over the world. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will cost you money in every little aspect of this city. 

This city also offers a great deal of services to people who are not willing to go through much expense. If you don’t want your wallet to become empty and also to plan a trip to Santa Barbara, there are a lot of beautiful and great tourist spots all over the city. So, you can easily complete a trip to Santa Barbara without losing a lot of money by visiting these places, some of which places are even completely free of all costs. It has places for people of all ages, such as museums, parks, beaches…the list goes on.

A list of 15 free things to do in Santa Barbara, which will cost you absolutely no money and you will be allowed to enjoy the offerings of those places completely free, is given below-

1. The Old Mission Santa Barbara

2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-682-4713

This mission is the 10th mission among the 21 missions built in California and for its sophisticated style and elegance, it is called the ‘Queen of Missions’. It is a great historical place along with immense beauty, and it’s more beautiful when the roses and other flowers fully bloom in the lush gardens situated there. This famous tourist spot is placed on a 13 acre land on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. There are many things to see in this queen of missions. There is a museum consisting of nine rooms, which features a wide range of artworks and historical artifacts. There is a historic mausoleum and a cemetery. This mission has a remarkable church which attracts the tourists. Outstanding views of the city can be enjoyed from the twin bell tower of the mission. Different colonial-era arts and sculptures and sacred artifacts can be seen here. Architectural beauties of the structures from old times can be enjoyed here. There is also a gift shop there from where tourists can buy fancy things such as statues, jewelries and religious artifacts. Daily tours of this place are available. So, this place should be number one go to place in Santa Barbara. 

2. Alameda Park

1400 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-564-5418

The Alameda Park is also among the best tourist spots of Santa Barbara which can be visited for free. It is the oldest park in the city and amongst all the things it features, one is ‘Kid’s Ground’, which is an eight thousand square feet large playground, the most popular and largest playground of the city, which is too great for kids and has slides, swings and a castle. There are picnic spots that can be reserved for organizing picnics, as it’s a great family place. There are party sites which are used for holding many large events and celebrations such as the earth day and the Summer Solstice festival. There is also a bandstand in this park for organizing music concerts. This park is a great place for tourists.

3. Carriage and Western Art Museum

129 Castillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93102, Phone: 805-962-2353

This carriage and western art museum of Santa Barbara was established in 1972 and situated near the waterfront of Santa Barbara. Many historical carriages and carriage related arts are featured by this great museum. The largest exhibition in America of restored and preserved carriages, along with authentic army and circus carriages are featured in this place. Vintage saddles owned by different celebrities can be seen here. And it has the similarity with Hollywood backlot with staged buildings of west. The visitors can visit this place from Monday to Friday every week, from 9 am to 3 pm if they seek self-guided tours. And docent-guided tours are held on the third Sunday of every month. The entry to this museum is completely free.

4. Santa Claus Beach

Santa Claus Lane, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-275-1851  

This beach is a really famous one among both the natives and the tourists. But for being a big and wide beach, this beach remains a bit uncrowded. It offers a mesmerizing beauty with soft white beach sands and mild, great waves. It offers many fun activities rather than just wondering on the beach, such as swimming, paddle jumping, boogie jumping etc. 

5. Santa Barbara County Courthouse

1100 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA, Phone: 805-568-3070        

This marvelous architectural site was built in 1929 and Spanish-colonial architectural style was used in designing the courthouse. This iconic landmark is still functioning as a courthouse and till this day it is one of the most public structures in the USA. It offers its visitors the view of a four-faced clock tower named El Mirado, the tower’s verdant grounds, red tile roof, sunken gardens etc. A large 6000 square feet space called the ‘Mural Room’ is one of the main attractions of this site, which is also popular for weddings. 

6. Coronado Butterfly Preserve

495 Coronado Dr, Goleta, CA 93117, Phone: 805-966-4520

This place is one of the most prominent natural beauties of Santa Barbara. There are many large eucalyptus trees in this place. And monarch butterflies migrate to this place in thousands to spend the winter from late October to late March. They hang from those eucalyptus trees creating a great view. This place is also home to a huge number of birds and other animals. This place is free to enter, so anyone can enjoy the great views for free.

7. Santa Barbara Historical Museum

136 East De la Guerra, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-966-1601

The glorious history of the Santa Barbara community is shown here to the visitors through compelling exhibitions and joyful programs. The sublime film era, pioneering people, legendary fiesta festivals and many other events held before the twentieth century are placed before the eyes of the visitors. People can visit this place every day of the week except Monday.

8. Fernald Mansion

414 W Montecito St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-966-1601

This place is named after its owner, Charles Fernald who used to live in this marvelous architectural site. This guy is really prominent in the history of Santa Barbara who held different important positions of the city such as the attorney, sheriff and the mayor. Though this house was originally located at 422 Santa Barbara Street, along with furnishings it was moved to the current site in 1959 by the Santa Barbara Historical Museum and opened it for public to visit for free. This house is an elegant example of the Victorian Queen Anne architectural style.

9. Stearns Wharf

219 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA, Phone: 805-698-5600

This iconic structure is located at the end of the Santa Barbara’s state street and it is named after the builder of this wharf, John Stearns. And regarding the California state, this wharf is the oldest among the working ones. For absolutely no cost people can enjoy the beautiful views of the blue Pacific Ocean and sounds of the sea. People can also enjoy the salty sea breeze and also the sunlight that shines up there. Boat riding facilities of this place attract tourists and this wharf also has the city’s most famous broad walk which is home to shops selling unique items.

10. Sunday Arts & Crafts Show

Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, CA, Phone: 805-897-2519

Santa Barbara’s Arts and Crafts Show takes place at Cabrillo Boulevard, from Calle Cesar Chavez to Stearns Wharf. This art and craft show takes place every Sunday throughout the year, which explains the name of this show. This show is also held on Saturdays during the major holiday weekends. The city’s many local artists show their creative talents in this great event, which is free for everyone. This show is a highlight of all the talented artists of this place as they show their original works here and people can talk to the artists freely. The show starts at 10 am and remains till dusk. 

11. Shoreline Park

Shoreline Dr & Santa Rosa Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

A bit west from the Leadbetter Beach, along the coastal bluff of the city of Santa Barbara, there is park of 14.6 acre land space, named the Shoreline Park. Visitors of this park can enjoy many different and exciting views including the views of the park of coastline, the Santa Ynez Mountains, the surrounding city of Barbara etc. There are a huge number of facilities in this park including a large area for holding picnics, stairs which give access to the beach, a playground, individual picnic tables, sidewalks, barbecue grills, park benches and a lot more. Little children can have a great time in this place with their family. 

12. American Riviera Franceschi Park

1510 Franceschi Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, Phone: 805-564-5418

Offering the views of the setting of Santa Barbara and being a green, great and elegant space for the tourists and also the natives to relax, the American Riviera Franceschi Park has become one of the most famous free of cost tourist spots of the city. This park is the former estate of a famous botanist named Francesco Franceschi, after whose name the park is named. This park not only offers a panoramic view of the city, it is also a pioneering location for horticulture in the city, as it promotes horticultural education, inspires passive recreation. More than nine hundred plant species were imported here. Aesthetics of the structures of Mediterranean climate are also celebrated here.

13. El Presidio de Santa Barbara state Historic Park 

123 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-965-0093

The Spanish built four presidios throughout the USA and one of them is the Santa Barbara Presidio which was built in 1782. Along the California coast, the Spanish built this military outpost, which is surrounded by the swarming city of Santa Barbara. There are several buildings in this sire, among which two originals were restored and others have been reconstructed. Among these buildings, one is El Cuartel, which is the oldest building in Santa Barbara.

14. Old Spanish Days Fiesta

129 Castillo St, Santa Barbara, CA, Phone: 805-962-8101

Once many Spanish people used to live in the city of Santa Barbara and they used to hold many festivals linked with their own customs in the city, some of which are celebrated till this very day. Among those, one is the Old Spanish Days Fiesta which is held in the summer season every year. The city is a great historic place and this festival is used to showcase glorious histories, traditions and heritages of it. Many entertaining and fun activities such as dancing, parades etc. are included in this festival and anyone can join.

15. Inspiration Point

Tunnel Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-564-5418

Being one of the most popular hiking destinations, the Inspiration Point offers one of the best views in the city of Santa Barbara for free. It offers the tourists a series of great views including the panoramic view of the whole city, the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands. There are many places to start hiking, but among the routes, the most common one is near the old mission of the city. From there the hike is not more than three and a half mile, and you can bring your dog with you too. The surrounding neighborhoods offer free parking.

You can visit all these places mentioned above and still keep your wallet full since none of these places cost a single dime. Well, these places offer additional things which can cost you money, but you can easily enjoy the hospitality of these places without losing a good amount of money. So, without having much money one can easily plan a dream trip to Santa Barbara. 

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