In Santa Barbara, you’ll find a celebration of fresh-caught seafood, wine tastings and a host of festivals.
Want to sample them all? Follow this checklist of five essential Santa Barbara experiences for foodies that pay homage to the local California bounty.
1. Order the Catch of the Day
The sparkling Santa Barbara Channel is one of the richest sources of sustainable, high-quality seafood in the USA. Depending on the season, the catch of the day could be spiny lobster, spot prawns, California halibut, yellowtail, albacore, swordfish, Pacific snapper or barracuda! Dine at a waterfront restaurant, buy seafood fresh off a boat at the Saturday Fisherman's Market, shop at the Santa Barbara Fish Market on Harbor Way or head out on a sea charter to reel in your own catch.
The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the richest sources of sustainable, high-quality seafood in the USA.
2. Follow the Wine Trails
If you love wine, Santa Barbara's winery tours, winemaker dinners, wine tastings and related festivals will top your to-do list. (With four official wine appellations in Santa Barbara County, you’ll keep busy.) Enjoy world-class Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills. Head to downtown Santa Barbara to trek along the Urban Wine Trail. Or follow Miles’ and Jack’s adventures as made famous in Sideways, the 2004 Oscar-winning film shot in Santa Barbara Wine Country.
3. Take a Farm-to-Table Adventure
The pleasant climate that makes Santa Barbara a coveted destination also makes it a stand-out spot for farming. Many of the area’s best chefs take advantage of the local bounty in their dishes, and some local farms host on-site dinners during which you’ll savor ingredients that have traveled just a few feet. Farmers markets operate every day of the week in the area (except Monday) and farm stands with overflowing bins are sprinkled throughout the county.
Farmers markets operate every day of the week in the area (except Monday), so get shopping!
4. Taste the Variety
Restaurants ranging from burger stands to high-end emporiums make it a point to use fresh, local ingredients — even Santa Barbara ice cream shops use locally grown fruits to create dreamy ice creams, gelatos and sorbets.
5. Celebrate Like a Local
In October, come for Epicure.SB — a 31-day celebration of Santa Barbara’s food, drink and culture. This month-long fête includes many food-focused events, festivals and experiences, such as the California Avocado Festival, Harbor & Seafood Festival, California Lemon Festival, The Celebration of Harvest and much more.
Annual food and drink festivals celebrate area culture and the local bounty.