At the bottom of State Street, in downtown Santa Barbara, Stearns Wharf offers breathtaking views of the harbor and beaches, backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains.
It was built in 1872 and was, at the time, the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Today, this tourist magnet is home to specialty shops; restaurants; and the Sea Center, one of two sites of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
Looking for a restaurant with views? This is a great place to enjoy a seafood lunch overlooking the ocean.
If you’re visiting with kids, a fun way to arrive here is to catch the Lil’ Toot water taxi from the Santa Barbara Harbor. Once you’re here, you can buy an ice cream and stroll around soaking up the ambience with the kids. Look for harbor seals as you gaze out at the water, and if you have any budding anglers in your family, you can also visit the bait and tackle shop and cast a line off the end of the pier.
A great way to explore the area around Stearns Wharf is to rent a bike from one of the nearby rental shops and pedal along the Cabrillo Bike Path. This scenic beachfront bike path traces the coastline near the entry to the wharf and is a rewarding way to do some sightseeing and stay fit at the same time.
If you want to stay right near this buzzing tourist hub, some of Santa Barbara’s best beach resorts and some excellent Santa Barbara restaurants overlook the shoreline on either side of the wharf