Experiencing the Santa Barbara Bowl

Zack Garhart
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Experiencing the Santa Barbara Bowl

As one of the town’s most iconic establishments, the Santa Barbara Bowl is a top destination for concerts and events. Perched in the upper hills of Santa Barbara, the Bowl was built in 1936 and was originally designed to host the annual pageant of Old Spanish Days – Fiesta.

Since then, the Santa Barbara Bowl has seen legendary musicians like Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Steve Miller Band take the stage. The 1970s were especially prolific for the Bowl, with artists like Bruce Springsteen and Peter Frampton coming to play shows. Through the 1990s, many renovations were done to enhance the venue’s infrastructure. Food concession stands were added in the early 2000s, and the venue now features more than 4,500 seats. Today, it stands as a marvel and a must-see for music lovers.

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Getting to the Santa Barbara Bowl

With such close proximity to downtown Santa Barbara, this concert venue is easily accessible by car, bike, or even on foot! The central location makes it an ideal destination for those staying at some of the local hotels, or hostels, without attendees having to worry about exorbitant rideshare or taxi prices. If you plan to take the city bus, check MTD’s website for the #2 route’s schedule. The #2 bus will get you the closest and is easily accessible.

No matter how you plan to get to the Bowl, arrive early! Doing so allows you to comfortably find your seat and plan out your food and beverage situation.

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Eating and Drinking at the Bowl

Speaking of food and beverage, the Bowl has plenty of options when it comes to libations and grub. From snacks like popcorn and soft pretzels to entrees like steak sandwiches and sausages, there are plenty of options for purchase at the Santa Barbara Bowl. For your sweet tooth or caffeine fix, there are also brownies and coffee for sale.

As for liquid libations, the Santa Barbara Bowl sells beer and wine. For the seltzer and cider crowd, they have options for you! This means you can show up with just your wallet and have access to all that you need.

Who is Playing in 2024

With names like Ziggy Marley, Gary Clark Jr., and Kings of Leon on deck for 2024, the slate is loaded for a year of incredible performances. The peak part of the schedule for shows is through the summer and fall, with performances tapering off around late September. For all shows, ticket prices range. Typically, tickets start in the $40 range and go as high as $160 (without tax). Check their schedule for a full list of concerts and prices for 2024.

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Last Things to Know

Be prepared for the weather. All events at the Santa Barbara Bowl will take place, rain or shine. Also, the event space has a strict No Bag Policy. If you’re a smoker or vape, plan accordingly. There is a strict no-smoking, or vaping, policy. That includes tobacco and marijuana.

Leave your booze behind. There are no outside food or beverage items allowed in the venue. Guests are allowed to bring one empty reusable water bottle into the concert venue (up to one liter). Lastly, no weapons or knives are allowed in the venue. For a full list of policies, check the website before heading up to the Bowl.

Want to make the most of your weekend and save on your accommodations? Stay at our awesome ITH Santa Barbara Beach Hostel. We’re located near downtown and are within a short bus or car ride to the venue.

For a full look at what it’s like to see a show at the Santa Barbara Bowl, watch this video!

For your next stay at one of our ITH Hostels, make sure you sign up for our Traveler’s Club. It’s free to sign up, and you instantly save on all future bookings!

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