When visitors come to Santa Barbara, they are typically attracted by its beaches, where they can have a good time and relax from their daily responsibilities at home for a bit. And when they do not have their feet in the sand, they choose to go to some historical place like El Presidio de Santa Barbara, which makes up the last Spanish military settlement built in northern California, or to Stearns Wharf, the longest deep-water pier that one can find between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
But Santa Barbara is also a vibrant city with a great artistic vibe for all those interested in a different kind of tourism. And this aspect of the city is clearly concentrated and articulated around State Street, the main and most famous street in Santa Barbara, and one of the most pleasant places in the entire city.
State Street is located at the heart of Santa Barbara. And it is the place that you must visit if you are interested in trying on the latest fashions, because it is full of big restaurants and shops and stores that you cannot miss, and some really fun places to dance. It is calculated that the street has around 160 local restaurants and more than 300 shops and stores. For that reason, it is no surprise at all the so many different types of food that you can eat there, and the huge variety of bars at your disposition to have a drink. And you cannot miss the experience of dining outdoors, which will probably remind you of some European open-air markets.
However, State Street is also home to several art galleries, theaters, churches, and museums, which turn it into one of the most spectacular spots in the city for all those who want to enjoy some more artistic and cultural moments in their trip.
It is a real pleasure for anyone here to take a walk on State Street, and become impressed by this long avenue and its indescriptible Mediterranean flavor. Its white walls and red roofs, its small shops, where one feels at home at every moment, its beautiful buildings, which will surely remind you of the old Spanish past of the city, and its rich cultural atmosphere seem to work together to bring about an experience of Santa Barbara hard to express through mere words, but equally hard to forget.
Visitors will surely enjoy the many exquisite squares and walks that State Street has for them. Or they can simply contemplate the architecture of its old buildings, and maybe afterwards get into some unusual shop or one of its many smart cafes, where unexpected pleasures are waiting for them. They can also try another approach, and take the trolley bus, which have different stops for passengers to pop on and off at their convenience. This is indeed a way for visitors to appreciate the whole place from an alternative perspective, but indeed most travelers and all locals will recommend them to walk to truly dig into the ambiance of State Street.
You can stroll up and down State Street, take lots of pictures, and never get bored. Some people come back every year from nearby areas just to enjoy the walk. And you will notice in every corner of the street Santa Barbara’s unparalleled love of art. It is therefore no surprise at all to find the Santa Barbara Museum of Art on State Street, which gives this laid-back Californian community a very attractive cultural appeal. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a good opportunity to see some permanent collections of American, European and Asian art, with a very interesting diversity regarding its exhibits. The collections include different art forms, such as sculptures, paintings, prints and ceramics. So, even though the gallery space may appear small to some visitors, the variety of artwork and its special temporary collections certainly pay for the trip.
State Street will also take you to remarkable places such as La Arcada, which is located next to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Library. This is a splendid substitute for the larger malls, with fountains, sidewalk cafes, and sculptures decorating the whole space. Another place worth mentioning is the Funk Zone, a neighborhood that has exploded into a truly contemporary artistic subculture in the heart of Santa Barbara. Visitors can find there artisan shops, hip eateries, art galleries, award-winning microbreweries, and even a craft distillery.
Visitors will also be surprised by the number of friendly people into whom they will run during their walk. That is one of the main features of Santa Barbara, and one that becomes completely evident when someone takes a walk on State Street. Because after all, State Street is the heart of Santa Barbara, a small sample of all the sympathetic characters that one may find in the city.