Over thirty years ago I visited Santa Barbara for the first time. It was love at first sight. The steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other make for a remarkably beautiful setting. The palm-tree lined streets, red tile roofs, and perfect weather make it an ideal location to enjoy as a couple. In fact, it is often one of the most sought-after romance and wedding locations in the country!

Santa Barbara is a beloved California beach town and is an amazing location to visit as a couple and is indeed a lover´s paradise. It is the site of countless marriage proposals and honeymoons for a good reason. With its fresh ocean breezes, swaying palms, endless sunshine, and breathtaking sunsets, it’s no wonder so many couples from all over the world flock to this romantic haven. From regular couples to Hollywood stars, Santa Barbara has played host to countless love-filled engagements and weddings.

Santa Barbara welcomes visitors of all kinds, whether you’re tying the knot or not! We’ve got you covered if you’re planning a romantic trip to this enchanting destination or a weekend getaway with your significant other.  I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed Santa Barbara for over thirty years with my husband. I love sharing the best tips and tricks to enjoy the perfect getaway with your partner in this amazing location.  

This carefully curated selection of the best romantic attractions in Santa Barbara will point you in the right direction. From a romantic stroll on the beach to taking in the views together in the clock tower, consider this guide to your very own choose-your-own-adventure novel of romance.

A Nature’s Retreat

Santa Barbara is blessed with mesmerizing natural beauty that beckons couples to immerse themselves in all it has to offer. Here are some activities that will allow you to experience the enchanting landscapes firsthand:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Lose yourselves in the tranquility of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where you’ll find a exceptional blend of native plants, colorful blooms, and peaceful walking trails. Take leisurely strolls hand in hand, admiring the diverse flora and enjoying the serenity of this botanical haven. One of the most beautiful aspects of Santa Barbara are the remarkable plants and trees that grow here, and the Santa Barbara Botanic garden allows you to appreciate all it has to offer in one stroll.  This is an  Instagram-worthy place where you and your loved one can create lasting memories in a stunning setting.  You can pack a snack and stroll through the gardens at a leisurely pace while taking breaks on the countless benches offered throughout the gardens.  

Butterfly Beach

Another beautiful place to walk is along the golden sands of Butterfly Beach. As the gentle waves crash on the shore, you and your partner can enjoy the breathtaking ocean views and savor moments against the backdrop of Santa Barbara’s stunning coastline. 

You can rent bikes at Wheel Fun Rentals in Santa Barbara and experience the scenic Cabrillo Boulevard Bike Path as it winds along the Santa Barbara beachfront on the way to Butterfly Beach. This 4.5-mile pathway, flanked by swaying palm trees, offers a fun and delightful journey starting from Leadbetter Beach and passing iconic landmarks like Stearns Wharf and East Beach. It allows you to get a sense of the community, landscape and layout of the Santa Barbara coast.

Santa Ynez Mountains

Active duos can embark on a hike and adventure together in the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains. You can explore the winding trails that lead to breathtaking vistas, allowing you to marvel at the beauty of Santa Barbara from a different perspective. The invigorating hike will be worth your while and reward you with panoramic views.  There are several ways to get there including renting your own car or you can hire an adventure company like Captain Jacks Tours which can plan the adventure for you.

Lotusland

Lotusland is a world-renowned 37-acre garden tucked away in Montecito, just outside of Santa Barbara and there is no place like it on the planet.  Take a guided tour through this botanical wonderland, discovering unique plant species, stunning sculptures, and breathtaking vistas. The serene ambiance and captivating landscapes make Lotusland a perfect setting for couples to connect with nature and with each other.  It is located in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Montecito and the drive alone is lovely as you meander through the beautiful neighborhood streets.  

Lotusland has 25 separate gardens, each with its own distinct theme. These include succulents, ferns, orchids, aloes, and a water garden adorned with lotus flowers. You can spend hours appreciating the variety and splendor of each unique setting.  However, book well in advance as it may be difficult to get tickets during peak seasons.

Read More: Discover California’s hottest cities! Uncover the top 10 sun-drenched urban destinations, filled with energetic vibes, exciting attractions, and a warm climate. Experience the energy of these popular hotspots and find your ideal place to soak up the California sun.

For The Wine Connoisseurs

Santa Barbara is a haven for wine enthusiasts where couples can delight in exploring the region’s flourishing wine scene together.

Urban Wine Trail

You can begin your wine adventure by exploring the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail which is located in downtown Santa Barbara. You can walk through the charming streets, stopping at various urban wineries to savor their exceptional wines in charming settings. Immerse yourselves in the vibrant atmosphere as you sample a wide array of local varietals, from crisp Chardonnays to robust Cabernet Sauvignons. 

Visit iconic wineries such as Foxen Vineyard & Winery, Fess Parker Winery, or Sanford Winery, where you can learn about the art of winemaking, enjoy guided tours, and indulge in tastings of their acclaimed vintages. Enjoy the flavors and aromas of the wines as they captivate your senses and deepen your appreciation for the craft.  This urban wine trail is a great way to see the different and distinct areas that make up the Santa Barbara downtown area, including the Funk Zone, Presidio and downtown areas.  

For an even more immersive wine experience, consider joining a wine tour that will whisk you away to some of the region’s most breathtaking vineyards in the back country such as Wine Tours Santa Ynez. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic drive as you’re chauffeured to handpicked wineries, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the vineyards, learn about the winemaking process, and taste a curated selection of wines. 

Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and culinary delights, making it an ideal destination for couples to explore together. 

State Street

State Street is the heart and soul of downtown Santa Barbara where you can browse through a variety of shops and boutiques offering everything from fashion and jewelry to artisanal crafts and home décor. Take the opportunity to find a special memento of your time in Santa Barbara or simply enjoy window shopping as you explore the charming streets hand in hand.  Some of the best local stores are:

Wendy Foster: For over 40 years Wendy Foster has set the tone for style in Santa Barbara and Montecito, capturing the essence of the laidback and elegant Santa Barbara lifestyle.

Jake and JonesJake and Jones is a well curated Santa Barbara boutique aiming to support emerging designers who have mindful and eco-friendly practices. Jake and Jones is full of cool, relaxed and luxurious modern designer fashion as well as an adorable kids section and unique gifts.  

Lovebird: Lovebird is a women’s boutique founded in 2009 by a local Santa Barbara couple that features signature collections of casual and luxurious apparel, handmade jewelry, accessories and local art. The store has a nice mix of domestic and international lines that are reflective of the Santa Barbara style at an affordable price point.

Blue Door: A fun store to browse the Blue Door is a vintage collective located in the Funk Zone. They feature displays of expertly sourced vintage pieces from private collectors along with a variety of locally handmade goods.

Folio Press and Paperie: Folio Press and Paperie is a letter press design studio, full service print shop and wonderful gift store. The gift shop is full of well sourced and curated local gifts ranging from books and textiles to stationary and cards. It is my go to shop for local Santa Barbara gifts.

Old Mission 

California is full of beautiful missions, but the Santa Barbara mission is known as the “Queen of the Missions” for good reason. It is indeed the most majestic and lovely of them all. Built in 1786, by Franciscan monks, the church hosts stunning architecture complete with grand bell towers, columns, and arches set against the background of the stunning Santa Ynez Mountainside. Step back in time as you enjoy walking through this beautiful building and amazing grounds.  

Marvel at the beautifully manicured gardens as you learn the rich history of this historic landmark. Take a guided tour to learn about the mission’s significance and its role in shaping the city’s heritage. The peaceful ambiance and picturesque surroundings provide the perfect setting for a romantic stroll and moments of reflection.  The rose garden set across from the Old Mission is a wonderful spot to sit for a picnic or take a short nap next to the flowers!

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Despite not being renowned for its romantic appeal, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse proudly holds the distinction of being the most magnificent government edifice in the United States. The architecture is characterized by Spanish Moorish design that captivates visitors with its charm and allure. Ascend the elegant tower to bask in breathtaking panoramic vistas of the picturesque cityscape which allows for a great view of the city and beyond.

Inside the courthouse, a world of grandeur awaits. Ornate wrought iron embellishments and vibrant murals adorn the space, creating a truly awe-inspiring ambiance. Particularly notable is the Mural Room, a majestic hall displaying the artistic brilliance of Daniel Sayre Groesbeck

Spanning an impressive 6,000 square feet, these meticulously crafted murals vividly portray the rich history of Santa Barbara, adding a touch of cultural significance to the courthouse’s opulent surroundings.

Additionally the grounds are full of dozens of varieties of trees and flowers and are well worth strolling through. If you are traveling during the summer months you might be lucky enough to catch a movie or concert playing in the sunken gardens.

Beach  Time

Santa Barbara is renowned for its stunning coastline and pristine beaches, offering couples the perfect backdrop for relaxation and romance. 

East Beach & West Beach

Take advantage of Santa Barbara’s idyllic weather and spend a day basking in the sun at one of the city’s beautiful beaches. Whether you choose East Beach or West Beach, you’ll find expansive stretches of golden sand, inviting blue waters, and a serene atmosphere. 

Set up your beach towels, soak in the warm rays, and enjoy the soothing sound of crashing waves as you unwind side by side. Take romantic walks along the shoreline, dip your toes in the refreshing water, and let the cares of the world melt away.  If you are looking for a romantic and curated beach set-up contact Santa Barbara Together, a local company that will set up a beautiful beach day experience with umbrellas, chairs, ice cooler and towels for you and your partner.

Water Based Activities

For couples seeking a bit of adventure, Santa Barbara’s beaches offer an array of water activities to enjoy together. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and embark on a leisurely exploration of the coastline. 

Glide along the calm waters, marvel at the scenic vistas, and embrace the sense of freedom and adventure as you navigate the gentle waves. These activities not only provide a thrilling experience but also allow you to engage in team work on a romantic getaways!

Some of our favorite activities include renting jet-skis from Santa Barbara Jet Boats or paddle boards or kayaks located in the Santa Barbara harbor.

A Sunset Picnic 

As the sun starts to dip below the horizon, seize the opportunity to have a romantic sunset picnic on the beach. Pack a delicious spread of your favorite snacks, a bottle of local wine, and a cozy blanket. The best place in town to put together a picnic is Savoy Café and Deli, a locally owned establishment full of delicious food perfect for a picnic (or any meal!).

Finding a prime spot on the sand is key to savor the breathtaking views of the vibrant sky as it transforms into a mesmerizing tapestry of colors. There are lovely spots along the coast as well as up on the Santa Barbara Mesa where you can enjoy the sunset, toast to your love and enjoy each other’s company in a remarkable setting.  

Whale Watching On the Condor Express

Taking a boat out on the water is one of the best ways to enjoy Santa Barbara and appreciate it´s amazing coastline. Step aboard the Condor Express, a sleek and luxurious catamaran that sets sail from Santa Barbara harbor. As you and your partner settle into the comfortable seating, you’ll feel the gentle ocean breeze and the anticipation of the adventure ahead. The vessel’s spacious deck provides the perfect vantage point for soaking in the coastal vistas that Santa Barbara is renowned for.

As the Condor Express glides through the blue waters, keep your eyes peeled for an awe-inspiring encounter with majestic marine life. Whales, dolphins, and seals often grace these waters, showcasing their playful nature and graceful movements. Imagine the joy and excitement of spotting a humpback whale breaching or witnessing a pod of dolphins dancing alongside the boat. It is almost sure to happen on every trip!

Day Trip To Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park comprises five remarkable islands, each with its unique charm and rich biodiversity. Explore these islands and witness the beauty of their untouched landscapes and discover hidden coves, towering cliffs, and vibrant wildflowers that create a breathtaking backdrop. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife encounters, including seals, sea lions, and various seabird species that call these islands home.  

Outdoor Activities

Channel Islands offer abundant opportunities for outdoor activities that will invigorate and reconnect you with nature. Lace up your hiking boots and traverse scenic trails that take you through rugged canyons and coastal bluffs, rewarding you with panoramic views at every turn.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters if you are into snorkeling to explore vibrant kelp forests teeming with marine life. Alternatively, you can also paddle through the gentle waves with a kayak and discover hidden sea caves and secluded beaches along the shoreline.

An Escape From City Life 

Taking a boat ride is our favorite way to arrive at the islands. You’ll need to book a boat ride with Island Packers, the only authorized boat concessionaire. 

Island Packers offers boat rides and boat tours to the islands most days from the Ventura and Oxnard harbors, making for an easy and scenic day trip.

Once you arrive one of the greatest gifts of visiting the Channel Islands National Park is the chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourselves in the serenity of nature. Enjoy the soothing sounds of crashing waves and gentle breezes as you breathe in the fresh ocean air away from crowds. 

Take moments to appreciate the silence and embrace the stillness that surrounds you. Whether you find solace in a secluded beach or atop a scenic bluff, Channel Islands National Park offers an escape where you can deepen your connection and create unforgettable memories as a couple.  

Arts and Culture

Arts and Culture

Santa Barbara is a hub of artistic expression and cultural richness, offering couples a wide range of captivating experiences. 

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Step into the world of visual arts by visiting the renowned Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Explore the impressive collection of artworks spanning various periods and styles, from classical to contemporary. Wander through the galleries hand in hand, admiring masterpieces by celebrated artists and discovering new favorites while engaging in thought-provoking conversations about the artworks with your significant other. Located conveniently on State Street it makes for an easy spot to stop in and browse.  They just recently finished an extensive remodel making it even more user friendly and accommodating to visitors.  Be sure to stop in the gift store on the way out as it is full of unique finds and local treasures!

Granada Theatre

If you get a chance, try to Indulge in an evening of enchantment and entertainment by attending a live performance at the historic Granada Theatre. From captivating theater productions to mesmerizing musical performances, the Granada Theatre hosts an array of events throughout the year. 

Experiencing a live event in this charming venue is a truly classic Santa Barbara experience. Let the melodies and stories transport you to another world. The grandeur of the theater itself adds an extra touch of magic to the experience, making it a truly memorable night out.  There are dozens of great restaurants close by like Arigato Sushi or Bouchan that you can eat at before a performance to make for the picture perfect date night.

Local Art 

Santa Barbara boasts a thriving art community, with numerous galleries showcasing the works of talented local artists. Take a leisurely stroll through the city’s art districts, such as the Funk Zone or Downtown, and discover the hidden gems within the galleries. There is an art walk along the beach boardwalk every Saturday morning where you can see dozens of local artist display their crafts. 

You can also take part in the Thursday night art walk where participating galleries and venues offer free access to visual and performing arts in a fun and social environment. You´ll find diverse artworks, from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed media creations. Engage with the artists themselves, gaining insight into their creative process and the stories behind their works. Who knows, you might even find a unique piece to bring back home as a special memento of your time in Santa Barbara.

Relaxation and Rejuvenation

Santa Barbara is not only a destination for scenic beauty but also a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. Here are two delightful ways to indulge in the ultimate relaxation:

Couples’ Massage & Spa

Rejuvenate your body and soul with a couples’ massage or a luxurious spa treatment. Many spas in Santa Barbara offer tailored experiences specifically designed for couples. From side-by-side massages to rejuvenating facials and body treatments, these experiences will leave you feeling renewed and revitalized. 

Allow the skilled therapists to work their magic as they melt away any tension or stress, promoting a deep sense of relaxation and well-being. Share this tranquil experience with your loved one, creating a serene space where you can both escape the worries of the world and focus on nurturing your connection.  Two lovely local spas are Float Luxury Spa and The Salt Caves, both located in downtown Santa Barbara.  

Hot Springs

Santa Barbara is blessed with natural hot springs that are known for their therapeutic properties. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourselves in the healing waters of these hot springs. Soak in the mineral-rich pools and let the warmth envelop your bodies, soothing tired muscles and promoting relaxation. 

There are multiple hot springs you can reach within a one hour drive of Santa Barbara. Hot Springs Canyon, also known as Montecito Hot Springs is our favorite spots and is accessible following a scenic hike with great pools for soaking .

The tranquil ambiance of the hot springs will guarantee a serene setting for you and your partner to unwind and embrace the healing powers of nature. This unique experience will not only rejuvenate your bodies but also provide a serene and intimate setting for quality time together.

Gastronomic Adventures

Santa Barbara is not only a feast for the eyes but also a culinary haven, offering couples a delectable array of dining experiences. From fresh, locally sourced ingredients to innovative flavors and techniques, here are some ways to tantalize your taste buds with your partner.

Local Farmers’ Market

You can start your gastronomic adventure by visiting one of Santa Barbara’s vibrant farmers’ markets. Visiting one of the many local Farmer´s Markets should be at the top of your list when visiting.  These outdoor markets are one of the best ways to experience life like a local in Santa Barbara.  You can stroll through the stalls exploring the unbelievable bounty local farmers have to offer like honey and fresh produce, while watching neighbors greet each other in this sweet California town.  Immerse yourselves in the bustling atmosphere as you browse through the stalls brimming with an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, and more. 

Engage with the local farmers and artisans learn about their produce and gather inspiration for your own culinary creations. Consider picking up some ingredients for a romantic picnic or gathering supplies for a cozy cooking session together.  Be sure to buy a beautiful arrangement of local Santa Barbara flowers.  

Farm-To-Table Restaurants

Santa Barbara embraces the farm-to-table movement, and you can have a number of establishments to choose from in the area. These establishments prioritize fresh, locally sourced ingredients, allowing you to taste the flavors of the region in every bite. 

From creative seasonal menus to innovative culinary techniques, these restaurants offer a unique dining experience that celebrates the bounty of Santa Barbara’s land and sea. Let the ambiance, flavors, and impeccable service transport you to a world of culinary excellence. Make sure to treat your taste buds to a memorable culinary experience by taking your partner out for a romantic dinner at one of Santa Barbara’s local restaurants.

Downtown Santa Barbara is home to a plethora of dining options that cater to every palate and preference. From cozy bistros to upscale fine dining establishments, you’ll find a variety of cuisines, including fresh seafood, farm-to-table creations, and international flavors. Savor each bite, raise a glass of local wine, and let the ambiance and delectable dishes set the stage for an unforgettable evening.

Some of our favorite Farm-to- Table Restaurants are…

The Lark-Located in the heart of the Funk Zone, a vibrant arts and entertainment district near the Waterfront downtown, The Lark offers some of the best farm-to-table brunch in Santa Barbara. Their menu features the highest quality seasonal ingredients and incredible flavor that honors the local farms and flavors of the area.

The Daisy-Located in Downtown Santa Barbara’s Victoria Court, The Daisy is a fresh and cute restaurant and marketplace. Everything on the menu is made in-house with locally sourced produce and a sustainable approach of seasonal Californian food, with delicious flavors.

Picos Los Alamos– Situated a short distance outside of Santa Barbara is Picos Los Alamos a farm-fresh produce restaurant that sources all their ingredients, produce, and proteins from sustainable, local vendors on a daily basis. It is a great spot to take a little excursion and enjoy some amazing food!

You may want to learn What to Pack for a 4-Day Summer Trip

Conclusion…

Santa Barbara offers many different types of experiences for couples seeking a romantic getaway. From strolling hand-in-hand along the beautiful beaches to exploring the charming downtown area, there are endless opportunities to share a romantic weekend together.

If you are on a budget you can have a great time out in nature and enjoy a simple picnic, or if you have money to spend you can enjoy some of the most decadent experiences in world class settings. Either way Santa Barbara has something for everyone! Escaping to Santa Barbara will make you fall in love all over again and you will undoubtedly share a memorable time as a couple in this one of a kind town.

Share the Post: