Best Day Trips From Santa Barbara, California

If you’re planning a trip to California, you might want to consider day trips from Santa Barbara. This is because California has some of the most magnificent destinations for tourists to explore. I will now share with you my favorite day tripping locations that Santa Barbara makes available to tourists.

Santa Barbara is a Southern California city located just east of Los Angeles and south of San Luis Obispo. It is one of the country’s most popular destinations for day trips, but what is the best day trip from Santa Barbara? Here are some places that make for great excursions from Santa Barbara.

Spending some time away from the hectic schedule is a must for everyone. But it’s hard to take a break from our super busy days. However, a day trip from Santa Barbara will take all your stress and worries away.

Located in beautiful California, Santa Barbara offers a wide range of tourist attractions that are perfect for a day trip from Santa Barbara. So whether you want to relax on the beaches or coastal areas or immerse yourself in the beauty of nature in a forest, day trips from Santa Barbara are your ideal destination.

So stop looking for the best day trips from Santa Barbara and read the article to find the most exciting and fun day trips from Santa Barbara.

Even if you have less time, these perfect getaways from Santa Barbara will certainly fit right into your schedule.

Best Day Trips Visiting Place in Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara is a lovely place to visit, but it’s currently experiencing an economic downturn. While some people turn to their local communities for everything, others understand that there is more than one way to experience a country. 

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of day trips from Santa Barbara, CA. There are many fun activities that you can do in Santa Barbara — from exploring the outdoors and enjoying its natural beauty to seeing its historic downtown and other attractions nearby.

1. Channel Islands

The Channel Islands, which is made up of five islands, is a National Park, and should be on your list for day trips from Santa Barbara. You will enjoy a breathtaking view of nature combined with some amazing activities as well.

You can make your trip to Channel Island from Santa Barbara easily from Ventura. Opt for a boat from your city or live a new experience piloting a seaplane.

The island is beautifully located in the southern part of Santa Barbara and has a picturesque landscape. Also, if you are a wild animal lover, you will fall in love with this place. You have the opportunity to witness the rarest species in the world, which are not found anywhere else.

Channel Island day trip from Santa Barbara is also best if you want to explore some fun activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, wildlife viewing, bird watching, hiking, etc.

You can also see some extraordinary marine animals like dolphins, sea lions and whales. So for a fun day trip from Santa Barbara, don’t forget to visit the incredible Channel Islands.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: Ventura 27.4 miles plus boat/seaplane time.

Tip: You should bring a ton of water and plenty of food for your day trip from Santa Barbara, as this place has no restaurants or shops.

2. Santa Ynez Valley

Santa Barbara Wineries is one of the best day trips to Santa Barbara. This is the place most loved by any wine connoisseur as some of the finest and most unique wines in the world.

If you want more than beaches and waters, plan a day trip from Santa Barbara to the Santa Ynez Valley. The valley is perfectly sandwiched between mountain ranges, making it a suitable place for wine production.

The scenic beauty of the place is sure to stay in your heart forever, while the wine tasting tours will make it super delicious.

Opt for tour companies for wine tasting or rent a bike and wander on your own. Your day trip to Santa Barbara is sure to be extra special. You can visit museums, businesses, boutiques, and wineries for your Santa Barbara day trip.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 34.2 miles

Fun fact: The entire movie Sideways, which is a popular romantic comedy, was shot in Santa Ynez. You too hop on a road trip, like the guys in the movie, for your best day trips from Santa Barbara.

3. Los Padres National Forest

Day trips from Santa Barbara would be incomplete without visiting the massive Los Padres National Forest. Your road trip would never be boring with the spectacular view that the forest offers. Visit this forest for an incredible scenic drive through Santa Barbara.

Covered in mountains, cliffs, and forests, this will be the best day trip from Santa Barbara. You can swim in the lakes or take a fun hike along the mountain trails. If you prefer winter hiking, check out our post dedicated to the best winter hiking jackets for men and women.

You can stop at some scenic spots like Pine Mountain Ridge, Piedra Blanca, Wheeler Gorge, and many more. Popular mountain ranges are the Santa Ynez Mountains, the Sierra Madre Mountains, etc.

The area is spread over 2 million acres and definitely makes for a relaxing day trip to Santa Barbara.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 33 miles

Fun Fact: Nine rivers flow through this vast area and the Sisquoc River is known as the most pristine stream in all of Southern California.

4. Castillo Hearst

If you are looking for unique Santa Barbara day trip ideas, then you must visit the famous Hearst Castle, which is of immense historical importance.

It was William Randolph Hearst who established this great architecture in 1919. The monument was renamed Hearst Castle after Mr. Hearst passed away.

Bring your child on this road trip to Santa Barbara and let them bask in the magnificence of this place. The castle is full of ancient paintings, decorations, sculptures, lamps from the Egyptian structure, and Renaissance eras.

Also, if you’re not sure what to do on a day trip from Santa Barbara, especially if you have kids, Hearst Castle would make a great day trip from Santa Barbara.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 137 miles

Fun fact: Hearst Castle, also known as Enchanted Hill, was loved by famous Hollywood stars like Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, and Greta Garbo, who were frequent visitors of Mr. Hearst.

5. Malibu

Do you love beautiful beaches? Do you want to know where your favorite Hollywood celebrities have their rich mansions? Then pay a visit to Malibu, one of the best cities to visit near Santa Barbara.

Surfers would love this place as Surfrider Beach is the best surfing beach in the world. Then Malibu should be on your list for day trips from Santa Barbara.

Snap some Instagram-worthy photos, take in a nice sunbath, or take a fun hike to Point Dume, Malibu is your go-to spot for non-stop entertainment.

Never forget to enjoy Malibu’s delicious seafood during your weekend trips from Santa Barbara.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 66.6 miles

Fun fact: Guess who some of Malibu’s famous residents are? From Leonardo Di Caprio to Jack Nicholson to Jennifer Anniston, these stars have all owned a home in Malibu. Now you know why you need a day trip from Santa Barbara to Malibu.

6. Solvang

Your wanderlust soul would love to visit a Dutch-themed town called Solvang. Take the ultimate day trip from Santa Barbara to picturesque Solvang.

Take a quick trip from Santa Barbara on a day trip to Solvang to experience Danish culture. Solvang is located in the Santa Ynez Valley and looks like a postcard due to its natural beauty.

The city is full of festivals, and wine-tasting tours, and the rustic touch of village life makes this a romantic spot in California.

You have many things to do in Solvang. From sampling the pastries at Danish bakeries to visiting local museums and picking up some Danish souvenirs for your loved ones, the list is endless. Solvang is rightly known as the dream destination for its taste of European culture.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 34.4 miles

Insider Tip: If you want to experience some live theater under the stars with your significant other, be sure to take advantage of the Solvang Theater Festival for maximum entertainment.

7. Ojai

Ojai is another great option for a day trip from Santa Barbara. If you want to try luxurious spas, exotic dining experiences, and visit boutique hotels, and organic farms, then come to Ojai for your Santa Barbara day trip.

The small town has a lot for you. You can visit local galleries, the Ojai Valley Museum, visit lavender farms, olive oil farms, and many more. Tourists also love to hike the country trails, or you can even rent a bike.

If hiking isn’t your forte, take a relaxing boat ride on Lake Casitas or simply indulge in the luxury spas. Ojai certainly makes for an amazing day trip near Santa Barbara.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 41.2 miles

Insider Tip: You won’t find a single fast-food restaurant here, as Ojai prides itself on making amazing farm-fresh food. So get rid of the usual and enjoy real organic food.

8. Pismo Beach

You can’t take a tour from Santa Barbara without visiting a beach. And what better than Pismo beach? If you want to sunbathe on the white sand beaches, Pismo is your right choice.

Plus, Pismo isn’t just for lounging on the ocean beach. You can bike, ride horses, hike at Pismo Preserve. Surfers also don’t forget to pack their surfboards for exciting surfing experiences.

You can also enjoy the fascinating marine life of whales and dolphins. Enjoy the seafood and take your best day trip from Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 82.9 miles

Insider Tip: You must visit Monarch Butterfly Grove to witness the colorful migratory butterflies.

9. Venice

Another beach town on your bucket list for your Santa Barbara day trips. Venice is a nice mix of beautiful attractions and interesting activities.

Ask for music, art, shopping, and beautiful sunsets, Venice has it all on its plate. Head to the extremely popular Broadwalk for street entertainment. Broadwalk also has great restaurants and shops. You will never run out of entertainment if you are in Venice.

You can also go to the Venice Recreation Beach Center, which has volleyball, tennis, and handball courts.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 93.7 miles

Fun Fact: Venice was previously called the Venice of America and was established as a resort town by Abbot Kinney, the founder of this city. Now, Abbot Kinney Blvd. is one of the coolest and most popular shopping spots for all tourists.

10. Morro Bay

Visit the cute little fishing town of Morro Bay if you’re wondering what to do outside of Santa Barbara. It will give you a special coastal experience for your day trip to Santa Barbara.

Morro Bay is famous for Morro Rock, which is a volcanic rock that rises amazingly from the sea. Morro Bay State Park includes incredible marine life, lagoons, and trails.

The place is packed with adventure activities like kayaking, hiking, boating, biking, surfing, swimming, and paddle boarding, making it a perfect destination for your day trip from Santa Barbara.

This is a great place to visit with your family and have a delightful experience watching otters, seals, and dolphins. Plus, Morro Bay makes for an ideal night tour of Santa Barbara if you want to enjoy Morro Bay’s dazzling nightlife.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 108 miles

Insider Tip: Surprise your partner with a romantic sunset dinner cruise and take them on magnificent whale-watching tours.

11. St. Louis Bishop

Do you long to be in a place called the happiest place in America? So what are you waiting for? Come to the sweet town of San Luis Obispo.

San Luis Obispo offers boutique shopping, beautiful vineyards, and amazing restaurants, and its lively atmosphere is sure to brighten up your day trip to Santa Barbara. Take a stroll through the bustling downtown for a taste of this small California town.

The San Luis Obispo Creek Boardwalk is another favorite among visitors. Also, if you’re excited enough, take a hike up Bishop Peak, which covers the trail from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 95.2 miles

Tip: Don’t forget to stop at Bubblegum Alley, an alley whose walls are smeared with used chewing gum. You can also see this alley on various TV shows.

12. Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park is ideal for nature lovers if you are planning a day trip from Santa Barbara and want to spend a day in the lap of nature.

Spring is the best time to visit, as it is overflowing with colorful flowers, crystal waterfalls, and much more. Not only do you have mountain ranges here, but you also have a super sandy beach. So treat yourself to a relaxing swim when you’re here for your day trip from Santa Barbara.

You can hike on the highest peaks of Boney Peak and Mugu Peak for a breathtaking view of California.

Driving distance from Santa Barbara: 48.6 miles

Tip: Take a break on the beach because you might be lucky to see some pretty birds and sea lions.


How Many Days Do You Need In Santa Barbara?

You need 2 days to cover all the beautiful places in Santa Barbara.

How Much Does A Trip To Santa Barbara Cost?

You can take a day trip to Santa Barbara with a budget of $150.

What Is There To See Between Malibu And Santa Barbara?

You can see the beautiful Malibu coastline, the Santa Monica Pier, and the Santa Barbara Boardwalk between Malibu and Santa Barbara.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Santa Barbara?

You can visit Santa Barbara throughout the year. But for the perfect beach experience, July to August is the best time


Prepare for your best day trip to Santa Barbara

Don’t waste time looking for ideas for day trips to Santa Barbara. We have selected the best day trip from Santa Barbara for you to relax and enjoy.

So get in your car with your friends and family and take in the indescribable beauty on your day trips from Santa Barbara.

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