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Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California | © Pixabay
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7 Reasons to Visit Santa Barbara Over Los Angeles

Picture of Kayleigh Roberts
Updated: 18 April 2018
Los Angeles’ neighbor to the north might out-California-chill the City of Angels.

Los Angeles has just about everything you could want—delicious food, engaging cultural events, exquisite art, quirky locals, and the list goes on. So why go anywhere else? Well, for a certain kind of person looking for a certain kind of weekend away, Santa Barbara might actually be the better destination. Though skeptics are widespread, read this list for seven very good reasons to visit Santa Barbara over LA.

The architecture

Whereas Los Angeles is a sprawling patchwork quilt of people and cultures and architectural styles, Santa Barbara has a cohesive look that will make even the least architecturally minded stop and stare. When it comes to admiring architecture, no trip to Santa Barbara is complete without a trip to the iconic Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

The wine

Yes, Los Angeles has a great night scene. Yes, there are awesome bars, clubs, and hotspots to check out in LA, but for the person who appreciates a fine wine, Santa Barbara is hands down the best place in Southern California. Love a rich, delicious red? Check. Prefer a tasty white? No problem, Santa Barbara wine country has you covered.

Santa Barbara wineries produce more than 50 varietals of grapes, meaning there is literally something for everyone. The perfect place to start a wine tasting journey in SB? Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, which is home to more than two dozen wineries.

The food

Los Angeles has amazing food, but Santa Barbara’s fare is truly next level. From to-die-for tacos to hyperlocal farm-to-table eateries, Santa Barbara has something for foodies of every sort. Pro tip: Don’t skip a trip to McConnell’s for a scoop (or two…or three) of ice cream. The lines regularly wind around the block, but it’s worth the wait.

The hiking

Lovers of the outdoors can find a lot to do in LA, but the hiking trails can be crowded and the beaches can be a nightmare. Not so in SB.

Love a classic, low-key romp through nature? The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens are gorgeous. Want to see the beach as you walk? Try the Coastal Vista Trail. Looking for a like-grabbing Instagram post? Visit Inspiration Point.

The beaches

There’s no comparing the crowded, touristy beaches of Los Angeles with the serene coastal views in Santa Barbara. Leadbetter Beach is a classic destination and the Douglas Family Preserve is great for groups and family outings. The sunsets from every shore are absolutely jaw-dropping.

Dog lovers must visit Arroyo Burro Beach, which has a section for off-leash play with furry friends.

The Funk Zone

Where will you be this weekend 🍺🍷? Photo by @vonngilmore

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Anyone who loves the laidback, artistic vibes of Venice Beach or the hipster chic boutiques and cafés in Silverlake must visit the Funk Zone during a trip to Santa Barbara. The Funk Zone is one of the hippest, up-and-coming areas in Santa Barbara. It’s a haven for artists and a great place for the young to get their wine tasting on.

Wine tasting 😃😃. Photo by @kathleen.post

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People watch and lust over the amazing fashion:

Photo by @heydoza ・・・ Dieu merci, c’est vendredi ☀️// @velvet_sugar

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Or stroll around taking in the street art, which is gallery-worthy:

Photo by @coreybush ・・・ ~ F U N K Y 🍺 F R I D A Y ~

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The hotels

Santa Barbara is close enough for a day trip, but even Angelenos should try to make time to stay overnight, if only to experience the city’s amazing hotels. The Wayfarer in the Funk Zone mixes the communal vibe of hostels with the upscale chic feel of a boutique hotel.

For a more traditional boutique experience, book a stay at the Hotel Californian. The Spanish-inspired hotel spans three city blocks and the rooftop hotel is enough to make a vacation perfect all on its own.