Best Free Activities in Santa Barbara

Zack Garhart
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Best Free Activities in Santa Barbara

Walk the Farmer’s Market

If you’re looking for fresh, local food, the Farmer’s Markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays are the perfect place to score huge hauls. Santa Barbara’s weekly farmer’s markets are some of the most popular events in town. The Tuesday markets are located on State Street, while the Saturday morning markets take place on nearby Cota St. Saturday morning strolls through the Farmer’s Markets are a perfect way to start the weekend. We recommend checking out one of the local coffee roasters, like Dune or Caje, which are both nearby and offer great selections of coffee and pastries.

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Stroll the Arts & Crafts Walk on Sunday Mornings

Along Cabrillo Boulevard, every Sunday morning, you’ll find vendors selling a wide range of hand-made goods. From candles and tapestries to paintings and jewelry, the Arts & Crafts Show features plenty of fun items to pick up on your walk. Whether you’re in the shopping mood or not, the ambiance and energy at the Arts & Crafts show is palpable. It’s a place where people from all ages and backgrounds come together and appreciate some of the local artists in Santa Barbara. The show starts at 10:00 a.m. and lasts until dusk.

Free Walking Tours

Being such a walkable city, local guides in Santa Barbara offer different walking tours. This is a perfect way to explore the town, learn some of its history, and soak up the sun. Santa Barbara is known for its iconic Spanish-Colonial style architecture and this is a great way to see all of it. The best part about these walking tours is that there are a few different ones to choose from! We recommend the Funkzone tour, as this part of town often gets overlooked but has plenty of cool and fun places to eat and drink. Otherwise, the Old Town Tour never fails! Make sure to bring water, and bring your best walking shoes for these tours. Also, check their schedules before planning to take a tour!

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Tour the Courthouse

Every day during the week (except for Court holidays) the Santa Barbara Courthouse offers free tours. These Docent-Led Tours are a great way to see the magnificent Courthouse while learning about its history. The Courthouse is one of the many gems of Santa Barbara, and we suggest taking time to go to the top! As long as you arrive 1/2 hour before the Courthouse closing time, you will be able to get to the Observation Deck. This opportunity is unique because the Observation Deck offers unparalleled views of Santa Barbara! As with the tours, the Observation Deck is closed on Court holidays.

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Catch the Sunset at Thousand Steps Beach

This unique beachside staircase dates back to the 1920s. Folks flock to One Thousand Steps Beach to check out the tide pool when the tide is low. When the tide is low enough, it gives you a great chance to walk the beach and enjoy some of the more stunning coastal views in Santa Barbara. Be mindful of the tide, though! A high tide could create unfavorable conditions for walking and could be dangerous. Either way, we recommend taking a trek down the stairs (it’s more like 150 steps) and enjoying one of Santa Barbara’s tucked-away gems.

Bonus: Check the Santa Barbara Museum of Art‘s website for events. Throughout the month, the museum will hold free events like Sketching in the Galleries, where the public is invited to come try their hand at drawing in the museum. Events like these are fun ways to experience the culture of Santa Barbara without stretching the budget. Reservations are required.

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