5 romantic things to do in Santa Barbara

Published Date: May 20, 2022

View in Santa Barbara
Nothing says romance like sun, sand and sipping Central Coast wines. It’s no wonder Santa Barbara is a popular getaway destination for couples. Whether you’re planning a proposal, celebrating an anniversary or simply seeking out a beautiful place to reconnect with the one you love, Santa Barbara might be the perfect venue. Check out these five romantic activities to see why. 

1. Wine tasting 

Santa Barbara offers exceptional experiences for wine lovers. If you're staying downtown or have limited time for tasting, the city’s Urban Wine Trail takes you through an incredible 28 tasting rooms, all within walking distance of each other. The wine trail is set up in such a way that you can easily pop in and out of the wineries that catch your eye. About 45 minutes outside Santa Barbara you’ll find the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys. Since the area boasts a range of soils (not to mention that crucial ocean air!), a huge variety of grapes are grown here. Toast to your love with everything from chardonnay and sparkling wines to flavorful syrah and hearty Bordeaux-style wines. Let a local take care of all the details (and the driving) when you book a private wine tour

2. Enjoy dinner and a show 

Built in 1924, the beautifully restored Granada Theater gives an air of Old Hollywood that’s perfect for a romantic date night. This local landmark offers a wide range of shows and entertainment: ballets, Broadway road shows, symphony performances, and Arts & Lectures events. Make a night of it with a pre-show dinner. Plenty of great restaurants are nearby, including Benchmark Eatery (with Instagram-worthy cocktails) across the street and authentic Italian cuisine from Ca'Dario around the corner. 

3. Watch the sunset together 

Because of the curve of the California coastline, most beaches in and around Santa Barbara actually face south (not west), making it difficult to find that perfect place to watch the sun set over the ocean together. West-facing Butterfly Beach in nearby Montecito is a beautiful place to end your day. Before the sun goes down, keep your eye on the ocean and you might just see some dolphins. Another rugged, romantic option is Thousand Steps Beach. Take the long stairway down to the beach and arrive on the rocky coastline. At low tide, tide pools are begging to be explored. And as the sun starts to set, the views are simply incredible. When it’s time to call it a night, don’t worry – it’s actually only 150 steps back up to the road, not a thousand.  

4. Picnic at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden 

Surround yourself and your sweetheart with 78 acres of beautiful foliage. Featuring over 1,000 different plants native to California, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has over 5.5 miles of paths to wander, gorgeous Santa Ynez and Channel Islands views, and a friendly picnic area. Check the website before you plan your visit to see the schedule of informative plant talks, morning bird walks and even the occasional beer garden.

5. Explore the ruins at Knapp’s Castle 

Live out your fairytale romance as you wander through an abandoned castle — of sorts! Knapp’s Castle is actually the ruins of a private mansion that burned down 70 years ago. You can walk through the grounds and explore what remains, including stone steps, archways and fireplaces. But it’s the views more than the ruins that make this spot so special. Located above town on a plot of land surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest, Knapp’s Castle offers stunning 360-degree views of the Santa Ynez Valley. The castle is also the perfect place to take a few photos. 

Make the romance last 

Turn Santa Barbara into your second home destination. Become a co-owner of a beautiful luxury vacation home in Santa Barbara and give yourself all the time in the world to relax, reconnect and explore everything the Central California coast has to offer.

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Jen Lyons


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