Santa Barbara Harbor from the Maritime Museum

When planning this trip, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for our day in Santa Barbara. There were not many excursions offered by the cruise line and the ones they did have were very expensive for what they were (walking tour for $125, no thank you). Not too long before the cruise, someone in the Cruise Critic group mentioned the free tours offered by Walking Tours Santa Barbara. If you have a cruise booked, I highly recommend joining the roll call over on Cruise Critic so you get tips like this one!

Walking Tours Santa Barbara offers three totally free tours on specific days and times: waterfront (the one I booked), Old Town, and the Funk Zone. They just ask if you enjoy your tour that you tip your guide. The waterfront tour took us from the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum to the Amtrak Station. The company advertises this tour as the perfect tour for first-time visitors to Santa Barbara. Personally, I felt that the tour went on a little long. This would’ve been a perfect 90-minute tour, but I really can’t complain since it was free.

Santa Barbara Courthouse

The iconic Santa Barbara courthouse

Santa Barbara is a tourist destination all year round because of their beautiful weather. It is really hard to complain about a place with average high temperatures from 66 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit all year. The mission-style adobe buildings that the city leaders adopted after the 1925 earthquake destroyed most of the town add to the city’s natural beauty.

After the tour, we did a little wine tasting in the area of town known as the Funk Zone. We started at the Santa Barbara Winery since we were able to get tasting coupons from our tour guides for $12 (much less than we paid to taste in Sonoma). From there we walked to The Valley Project which advertises its wine as spanning the 5 AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) of Santa Barbara. While these wines don’t get the attention of a Napa or Sonoma, everything we had was very good and we brought even more bottles back onto the ship.

One thing that was awkward about our time in Santa Barbara is that it was very obvious that a lot of the locals do not want the cruise ship traffic. We heard a lot of muttering about “ship people” when we were walking around and our tour guides were very curious about our change of itinerary with Monterey banning cruise ships. It is very different than in Alaska where the people were begging for the return of cruise ships during COVID. Once again, it just made me think about what it means to be a conscious cruiser. If we cruisers want cruise ships to be helpful to the local economies they visit, it is important that we to get off the ship and visit the shops and restaurants and spend some money. If we just lay on the beach and eat and drink on the ship, more and more interesting places are going to stop allowing ships to visit.

Overall, I really enjoyed our day in Santa Barbara and wished I had more time in this beautiful area. I guess Santa Barbara will have to be added to that increasingly long list of places I need to return to!

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by next week for my review of the Celebrity Solstice! To read more about this trip, check out the Cruising the Pacific Coast Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.