Along the sunny central coast of California, you'll find Santa Barbara. Known for its laidback beach town atmosphere, this city has plenty more for visitors than just sandy shorelines. From charming neighboring towns to celebrated local wine, Santa Barbara offers the perfect getaway to unwind while exploring its natural beauty.


  • Try a fresh danish in the Danish-style town of Solvang
  • Sip wine in the central coast wine region in Los Olivos
  • Learn the history behind Santa Barbara's historic mission
  • Hike through the stunning outdoors in Los Padres National Forest
  • Get a peek into the small town life of quaint Ojai

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 From Los Angeles to Santa Barbara: Solvang & Los Olivos Santa Barbara
Day 2 Santa Barbara: Old Mission and State Street Santa Barbara
Day 3 Hiking in Los Padres National Forest Santa Barbara
Day 4 Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, Stop in Ojai Los Angeles

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: From Los Angeles to Santa Barbara: Solvang & Los Olivos


Time to leave the big city behind and head up the coast to visit one of Southern California's favorite seaside towns, Santa Barbara. This city, known for its laid back vibes and beautiful coastlines, offers plenty to do besides strolling along its famed beaches. From Los Angeles, hop in your car and make the journey north up the 101 for a little over two hours.

Don't stop just yet as you approach Santa Barbara, and instead continue on a bit further north for about 30 minutes to reach the town of Solvang. This small village in the Santa Ynez Valley is known for its unique Danish-style architecture and atmosphere. Spend an hour strolling through Solvang and admiring its charming European style houses, windmills, and boutique shops. Don't forget to pop into one of its many renowned bakeries, like Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery, to start your morning with a cup of coffee and a fresh danish. 

From there, hop back in your car and make the 10-minute drive to nearby Los Olivos. This small area, just a few square blocks, is home to around 25 wine tasting rooms. We recommend trying Zinke Wine Co. to start, for a classic experience tasting the local specialties. From harvesting to bottling, you'll learn about the unique region and everything that goes into your glass of wine.

Afterward, drive down the 40 minutes to Santa Barbara, where you'll head straight to the city's Funk Zone. This once industrial area of warehouses has been revamped and is now home to an array of restaurants, shops, wine tasting rooms, and outdoor art and murals to admire. Head over to the Lucky Penny and grab a table outside to enjoy the sunshine and a wood-oven baked pizza for a late lunch and evening drinks. 

Make your way to Stearns Wharf, just a short walk away. Stroll up and down the pier admiring the sights and sounds of California's oldest working wharf. Cool off in the afternoon sea breeze and soak up the views of the Pacific coast and the surrounding beaches before heading to your hotel in the evening.

Day 2: Santa Barbara: Old Mission and State Street

Old Mission
Old Mission

Spend the day exploring the city of Santa Barbara. Start your morning with a visit to the historic Old Mission of Santa Barbara. For an entrance fee of $12, learn the history behind this 1786 Spanish mission while seeing the relics of the era in one of Santa Barbara's quintessential landmarks. The property also holds beautiful gardens with ocean views. 

From there, head over to  State Street. Right in the heart of downtown, State Street embodies what Santa Barbara has to offer. Lined with palm trees and dotted with local eateries, boutique shopping, and Spanish colonial-style architecture, it is worth the better part of your morning to stroll along and enjoy the sights and sounds. Just a couple blocks off State Street, recharge with a cup of coffee at Handlebar Coffee Roasters.

For something light, head to Savoy Cafe & Deli for lunch. Delicious as well as healthy, the place offers an extensive salad bar and plenty of sandwich options. 

From there, head down to the beach! At the end of State Street, turn and make your way to East Beach. Soak in the sun and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. Stroll along the waterfront and long stretches of white sand. When you're ready, make your way back in the direction of Stearns Wharf and pop into one of the fresh seafood eateries for dinner. Try Santa Barbara FisHouse for beautiful ocean views and a casual outdoor patio to enjoy your meal.

Day 3: Hiking in Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest

Tucked between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, no visit to Santa Barbara is complete without exploring the natural beauty of the area. Today, venture nearby to discover Los Padres National Forest. The long swath of protected wilderness rises in the mountains behind Santa Barbara and stretches up the central coast of California into San Luis Obispo.

Before driving over to the trailhead, fuel up with a light breakfast at Dawn Patrol, a casual eatery with plenty of coffee and breakfast options to start your day. You'll also find some sandwich options on their menu, be sure to order one to go and take it with you for after your hike! 

There are plenty of different trails in the forest to choose from for hiking. From Santa Barbara, try the Inspiration Point Hike. Start early to beat the heat, as the full loop takes about 4 hours and has 825 feet of elevation change. Once arrived at Inspiration Point, the incredible panoramic views are well worth the effort. Take in the clear skyline of the city of Santa Barbara, expansive Pacific Ocean, and even the distant Channel Islands. 

Head back into Santa Barbara and reward your efforts with afternoon drinks at Santa Barbara Wine Therapy. The laidback atmosphere and outdoor patio is the perfect spot to unwind and treat yourself to a glass of red and pairing cheese board. And just around the corner, you'll find Black Sheep Restaurant, a fusion of Asian-American cuisine and a cozy spot to grab some dinner. 

Day 4: Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, Stop in Ojai

Ojai's surrounding mountains
Ojai's surrounding mountains

Time to make your way to Los Angeles. Jump in your car and make your way down the coast on the scenic 101. After about an hour, cut inland for a stop in the small town of Ojai. Just 20 minutes out of your way, this small town is tucked away in a valley and surrounded by the Santa Ynez Mountains and citrus groves. It's perfect for a picturesque pit stop.

Start with a stroll up and down Ojai Avenue. This main stretch of town is dotted with art galleries, boutique shops, plenty of local eateries, and even a couple of wine tasting rooms. Head to Ojai Coffee Roasting, Co. for a cup of coffee before continuing on.

After getting your bearings, visit Bart's Books- a local favorite. This unique place holds an expansive collection of books in a mostly outdoor set-up. Get lost in a maze of titles and shelves.  Its creation and continued success are a testament to the character of this small town, as you'll find rows and rows of shelves outside sold on the honor system for over 50 years. 

If you have a little extra time, jump in the car head a couple of miles inland to visit Ojai Olive Oil. This family-owned and operated farm will give you the chance to walk off your meal. Learn more about the property and peruse the local products, visiting the tasting room to sample the variety of fresh olive oils made locally. 

From there, get back in your car and return back to the 101 to continue your journey down the coast to reach Los Angeles.


Map of Explore Santa Barbara - 4 Days
Map of Explore Santa Barbara - 4 Days