Destination Main Streets

Santa Barbara, California

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Although only about a hundred miles from bustling Los Angeles, Santa Barbara feels like it could be a thousand miles away. The drive itself is well worth the trip up scenic U.S. 101, which hugs the Pacific coast. And in fact, State Street, Santa Barbara's Main Street, is just off the 101 separating it from the ocean just a few blocks away. If you head south of U.S. 101, you are only a few blocks away from Stearn's Wharf and its shops on the Pacific Ocean. The area has a Mediterranean feel with its geography, climate, architecture, and even laid-back lifestyle.

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County and located in California's Central Coast region. The city itself is located on the Pacific Ocean just south of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Santa Barbara is approximately 100 miles north of Los Angeles California and can be reached via a scenic drive up U.S. 101. Other Main Street communities worth checking out in Santa Barbara County include Solvang, Carpinteria, and Montecito.

Photo Gallery

Lush landscaping and historic Spanish Colonial architecture permeates State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, California.
Lush landscaping and historic Spanish Colonial architecture permeates State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, California.
A wide variety of boutiques, including independents and chains can be found along State Street in Santa Barbara, California.
A wide variety of boutiques, including independents and chains can be found along State Street in Santa Barbara, California.
The Paseo Nuevo is an outdoor mall featuring shops, restaurants, and even its own parking.
The Paseo Nuevo is an outdoor mall featuring shops, restaurants, and even its own parking.
We start our tour of downtown Santa Barbara at the southern end of the historic district where the 101 passes over State Street.  The Pacific Ocean is just off in the distance to the south.
We start our tour of downtown Santa Barbara at the southern end of the historic district where the 101 passes over State Street. The Pacific Ocean is just off in the distance to the south.
Heading north, we start in the 400 block of State Street where the streets are a bit quieter and most of the businesses are independents.
Heading north, we start in the 400 block of State Street where the streets are a bit quieter and most of the businesses are independents.
Bright architecture, palm trees and a clock decorate State Street at its intersection with Haley Street.
Bright architecture, palm trees and a clock decorate State Street at its intersection with Haley Street.
Shops and restaurants decorate the 400 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
Shops and restaurants decorate the 400 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
In the 500 block of State Street, we find more restaurants with outdoor cafes along with additional foot traffic.
In the 500 block of State Street, we find more restaurants with outdoor cafes along with additional foot traffic.
More restaurants with sidewalk cafes.  The umbrellas and space heaters guarantee these seats will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
More restaurants with sidewalk cafes. The umbrellas and space heaters guarantee these seats will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
Shops along the 600 block of State Street.  On the far right is a World Market, a big box store that blends in well with the walkable downtown.
Shops along the 600 block of State Street. On the far right is a World Market, a big box store that blends in well with the walkable downtown.
The Hotel Santa Barbara at the intersection of State and Cota Streets.  Notice the small electric police vehicle patrolling the streets.
The Hotel Santa Barbara at the intersection of State and Cota Streets. Notice the small electric police vehicle patrolling the streets.
The State Street Flag Program features 125 flags that are changed out weekly.  Each represents a local group.  These purple flags are for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.
The State Street Flag Program features 125 flags that are changed out weekly. Each represents a local group. These purple flags are for the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.
The entrance to the Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping plaza, including Macy's, one of the mall's anchors on the 700 block of State Street.
The entrance to the Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping plaza, including Macy's, one of the mall's anchors on the 700 block of State Street.
More shops line the outside of Paseo Nuevo along State Street in Santa Barbara.
More shops line the outside of Paseo Nuevo along State Street in Santa Barbara.
Wide sidewalks don't just give plenty of room to outdoor cafes and pedestrians but also to the well-maintained lush landscaping.
Wide sidewalks don't just give plenty of room to outdoor cafes and pedestrians but also to the well-maintained lush landscaping.
Trees can provide plenty of shade for people eating at the sidewalk cafes.  And for those just relaxing on a bench.
Trees can provide plenty of shade for people eating at the sidewalk cafes. And for those just relaxing on a bench.
A lack of on-street parking on State Street is the price to pay for much wider sidewalks that give room to stroll or to sit on a bench.
A lack of on-street parking on State Street is the price to pay for much wider sidewalks that give room to stroll or to sit on a bench.
A view of Paseo Nuevo's entrance on the 700 block of State Street.  The wide plaza area provides plenty of space for outdoor dining or for merchandise kiosks.  Notice how even the newer buildings feature the Spanish Colonial architecture.
A view of Paseo Nuevo's entrance on the 700 block of State Street. The wide plaza area provides plenty of space for outdoor dining or for merchandise kiosks. Notice how even the newer buildings feature the Spanish Colonial architecture.
Shops and sidewalk cafes on the 700 block of State Street across the street from Paseo Nuevo.
Shops and sidewalk cafes on the 700 block of State Street across the street from Paseo Nuevo.
Looking northeast on De La Guerra Street towards the Santa Ynez Mountains.  The Casa de la Guerra Historic Site is on the left.  On-street parking is allowed on the side streets in downtown Santa Barbara.
Looking northeast on De La Guerra Street towards the Santa Ynez Mountains. The Casa de la Guerra Historic Site is on the left. On-street parking is allowed on the side streets in downtown Santa Barbara.
A view of State Street at its intersection with De La Guerra Street in Santa Barbara, California.
A view of State Street at its intersection with De La Guerra Street in Santa Barbara, California.
The northern end of Paseo Nuevo on State Street.  Notice the Electric Shuttle, which transports folks between downtown Santa Barbara and its waterfront.
The northern end of Paseo Nuevo on State Street. Notice the Electric Shuttle, which transports folks between downtown Santa Barbara and its waterfront.
Looking north on the 800 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
Looking north on the 800 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
A view inside Paseo Nuevo.  Notice eateries above the Sephora at the top of the picture.
A view inside Paseo Nuevo. Notice eateries above the Sephora at the top of the picture.
Historic El Paseo Restaurants and Shops is another small shopping plaza across the street from Paseo Nuevo and features dozens of independent cafes and boutiques.
Historic El Paseo Restaurants and Shops is another small shopping plaza across the street from Paseo Nuevo and features dozens of independent cafes and boutiques.
Believe it or not, that building with the columns is hiding a Marshall's.  For a big box store, it's doing a great job of blending in on State Street.
Believe it or not, that building with the columns is hiding a Marshall's. For a big box store, it's doing a great job of blending in on State Street.
More Spanish Colonial architecture along the 900 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
More Spanish Colonial architecture along the 900 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
Shoppers taking a stroll on the 900 block of State Street.  Notice the wide sidewalks.
Shoppers taking a stroll on the 900 block of State Street. Notice the wide sidewalks.
A Saks Fifth Avenue.  Yet another department store that is able to fit in and blend well on State Street--meaning it's not surrounded by a sea of parking.
A Saks Fifth Avenue. Yet another department store that is able to fit in and blend well on State Street--meaning it's not surrounded by a sea of parking.
A sidewalk cafe, along with excellent landscaping and beautiful architecture and even a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu center can all be found on the 1000 block of State Street.
A sidewalk cafe, along with excellent landscaping and beautiful architecture and even a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu center can all be found on the 1000 block of State Street.
A wide variety of shops and restaurants (including Indian cuisine and a Subway) can be found on the 1000 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
A wide variety of shops and restaurants (including Indian cuisine and a Subway) can be found on the 1000 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
The wide sidewalks provide plenty of space for trees, benches, bike racks, and a shuttle stop.  Maybe this is what the area gained in exchange for no on-street parking on State Street.
The wide sidewalks provide plenty of space for trees, benches, bike racks, and a shuttle stop. Maybe this is what the area gained in exchange for no on-street parking on State Street.
An Italian restaurant with a courtyard for outdoor dining on the 1000 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
An Italian restaurant with a courtyard for outdoor dining on the 1000 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
La Arcada is another small shopping plaza off State Street, boasting unique galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
La Arcada is another small shopping plaza off State Street, boasting unique galleries, boutiques, and restaurants.
A row of boutiques along State Street.  These are part of the La Arcada collection of businesses.  Notice the very wide sidewalk.
A row of boutiques along State Street. These are part of the La Arcada collection of businesses. Notice the very wide sidewalk.
More shops along the 1100 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
More shops along the 1100 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara attracts all sorts of colorful characters.  The tall building in the background houses the Granada Theatre.
Santa Barbara attracts all sorts of colorful characters. The tall building in the background houses the Granada Theatre.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located on the 1100 block of State Street.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is located on the 1100 block of State Street.
An Old Navy on the 1100 block of State Street.  Another big box store that integrates well in the historic district.
An Old Navy on the 1100 block of State Street. Another big box store that integrates well in the historic district.
A view looking northeast on Anapamu Street.  Notice that on-street parking is allowed on the side streets.
A view looking northeast on Anapamu Street. Notice that on-street parking is allowed on the side streets.
The Granada Theatre is located on the 1200 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
The Granada Theatre is located on the 1200 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
Boutiques selling home furnishings on the 1200 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
Boutiques selling home furnishings on the 1200 block of State Street in Santa Barbara.
With so many trees on State Street, it's easy to miss the boutiques hiding behind them.
With so many trees on State Street, it's easy to miss the boutiques hiding behind them.
More shops and restaurants with outdoor seating on the 1200 block of State Street.
More shops and restaurants with outdoor seating on the 1200 block of State Street.
The 1300 block of State Street just north of Victoria Street.  Notice that north of Victoria Street, on-street parking is allowed on State Street.
The 1300 block of State Street just north of Victoria Street. Notice that north of Victoria Street, on-street parking is allowed on State Street.

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Downtown Santa Barbara
La Arcada
Paseo Nuevo
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