Things to do in Santa Barbara in December

Ali Sullivan

Plan your perfect December getaway in the American Riviera with this guide to the best things to do in Santa Barbara in December. 


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Get ready to unwrap the magic of December in Santa Barbara, where the sun-kissed coast meets the holiday spirit! As winter whispers across the American Riviera®, the city transforms into a festive haven with endless things to do in Santa Barbara in December. It’s not your typical winter wonderland, but who needs snow when you can trade it for sunny beaches and palm-fringed streets?


From strolling down State Street adorned with twinkling lights to exploring charming markets that boast unique local finds, Santa Barbara is your go-to destination for a December to remember. Whether you’re indulging in beachside delights, sipping local wines, or soaking in coastal vibes, join us on a journey through the top things to do in Santa Barbara in December, where winter warmth meets California cool!

Gin & Jazz at El Encanto

Date: Every Thursday Night 

Elevate your Thursday nights into a spectacular blend of swingin’ vibes and crafted concoctions at El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel. Gin & Jazz is perfect for music lovers and one of the best things to do in Santa Barbara in December. Let the notes of a live jazz trio, led by a mesmerizing jazz vocalist, serenade your evening. Get ready to jazz up your Thursday with gin, groove, and a touch of timeless magic. 

gin and jazz santa barbara in december

Goleta Holiday Parade

Date: December 2nd, 2023


Celebrate the season surrounded by friends and family at the Annual Goleta Holiday Parade! Experience the joy as dozens of holiday-themed floats, lively bands, and dance groups come together to kick off the holiday spirit right in the heart of Old Town Goleta. It’s one of the best things to do in Santa Barbara in December—join in the cheer at the most enchanting holiday event of the year. 

Santa Barbara Wineries 

Tis the season to sip and be merry in Santa Barbara! While others might be dreaming of a white Christmas, we’re toasting a vineyard adventure. December in Santa Barbara is the perfect time to savor local wines, swapping snowflakes for the clink of glasses and winter chills for the warmth of a red blend. Check out some of the best wineries in Santa Barbara here

Artisan Marketplaces

Another great thing to do in Santa Barbara in December is Christmas shopping at the many Artisan Marketplaces. One of the best ways you can support the community this holiday season is to buy and shop local. Dive into the heart of Santa Barbara and discover charming keepsakes and mementos intentionally sourced and crafted with love right here in The American Riviera.

Seaside Sock Skating at MOXI

Seaside Sock Skating at MOXI is one of the best and most unique things to do in Sant Barabra in December. Get ready for some eco-friendly excitement as we ditch the ice and embrace climate-friendly fun. Say goodbye to frosty toes and hello to shoe-free, frictionless fun as you glide across a special tile floor that mimics the coolness of ice without the chill. Sock skating is not just encouraged; it’s included with your museum admission! Lane Farms Christmas Patch


Hit the Beaches 

Who says December in Santa Barbara is all about snowflakes? Instead of shivering in a winter coat, you’re basking in the California sun, toes in the sand, and the salty breeze tousling your hair. December in Santa Barbara is like summer’s cheeky encore, where you can build sandcastles instead of snowmen and trade hot cocoa for refreshing holiday cocktails.

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As December wraps Santa Barbara in its warm embrace, the possibilities for joy and adventure are endless. Whether you’re strolling down State Street, soaking in the beachy vibes, or indulging in festive treats, this Californian paradise has something for everyone this holiday season. Embrace the Santa Barbara magic a little longer by booking your stay at ITH Santa Barbara Beach Hostel. With its cozy atmosphere and beachside charm, it’s not just a place to rest your head—it’s a hub with memories waiting to be made. Let the adventure continue, the waves serenade, and the beach beckon—your December escape awaits at ITH!


Santa Barbara in December

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