How to Spend a Day in Santa Barbara

While we love when guests of Marina Beach Motel stay for as long as possible, we understand when vacation time can be cut short. If you find yourself in this position with only a day or two to explore Santa Barbara, you’re going to need to check out the best spots. That’s why we created an itinerary of sorts on how to spend a day in Santa Barbara.

From right when you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow, we compiled a way to optimize your short trip here. We know we’re bound to miss some local favorites, after all it’s only one day! However, we hope this gives you some inspiration and ideas on how to best enjoy your time in Santa Barbara.

Here’s how to spend a day in Santa Barbara


After waking up and getting ready, you’re probably looking to get some food in your system before hitting the town. Lucky for you, at Marina Beach Motel, we provide our guests with a complimentary breakfast. That way, you don’t have to spend money or time looking for a place to sit down.

We offer our guests fresh pastries, bagels, coffee, and juice to fuel up on. We buy the pastries and bagels from a local bakery, going the extra mile to ensure our guests are satisfied with every aspect of their stay. You can even enjoy your breakfast at our outside courtyard, taking in the sea breeze and Southern California sun.

Grab a bike

One of the best parts about spending a day in Santa Barbara is the weather. No matter what the season, you can usually find yourself immersed in sunshine. With that in mind, why would you want to spend your time inside of a car?

At Marina Beach Motel, we offer each guest a free bikes for the day. So please take advantage of this! We want people to explore this city with wind in their hair and sea kissed air in their lungs. The best way to start your day is on a bike to downtown.

We’re only a couple blocks away from Stearns Wharf and the same amount from State St. Instead of looking for parking, simply pull up to the place you want to go and set your bike right next to it.

Time on the Wharf

As we just mentioned, we’re only a short distance from Stearns Wharf. A vacation in Santa Barbara is not complete without checking this this iconic spot. Seafood restaurants line the wharf from beginning to end and there’s even a natural history museum and marina museum that’s a great place to take your kids.

Explore State Street

After you’ve perused up and down Stearns Wharf, we suggest you bike straight up to State St. Considering it’s right across from the wharf, it makes an easy and convenient place to go to next. You can either park your bikes at the bottom and walk up and down or bike up and down the street.

There are plenty of unique shops to explore and gifts to be bought for family and friends. If you start to feel a rumble in your stomach, there are plenty of places to start and have an incredible meal at all along the street.

Get Sandy

As you’ll probably notice once you’re in Santa Barbara, the beach is right next to you. At Marina Beach Motel, we take pride in the fact that we’re only a few steps away from the beach. So after you’re done exploring downtown and all it has to offer, bike back up towards Marina Beach Motel and drop your backs off.

That way you can just walk to the beach and not have to worry about where to leave your bike. The beautiful Santa Barbara coastline is a place you should relax and spend a few hours soaking in. Even if you’re only here for a day, try to spend a decent amount of time hanging out at the beach.

Alternative Options

If you don’t feel like chilling on the beach, there are always other options to see in Santa Barbara. We highly recommend checking out Mission Santa Barbara if you have the time. The history is truly incredible and the buildings are really a sight to behold.

If you want more naturesque vibes, head up to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. This floral wonderland highlights all the beautiful flowers and vegetation that California has to offer. It also has plenty of activities to keep the kids busy if that is something you’re looking for as well.


By now, you’ve probably been running around all day and are fairly exhausted. This is the perfect time to sit back and enjoy the sunset. We highly recommend getting dinner at this time. That way you’ll be able to enjoy a great meal and spectacular views. Places like Brophy Bros. and the Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach are a couple of our favorite places to grub and enjoy the view.

Night Time

Depending on what you’re feeling or how ambitious you’re trying to get, night time is Santa Barbara can be as mellow or as wild as you’d like. There are plenty of fun bars to check out all around the city. Each offer their own spin on fun. Check out our list of if you feel a second craving of dinner start to brew.

After all this, you should be pretty spent. If not, it sounds like you need another day or two in Santa Barbara. However, we hope this gives you a better idea on how to really enjoy this beautiful city!