What to do in Santa Barbara in December 2024

What to do in Santa Barbara in December 2024

Why you should visit Santa Barbara in December

December is a magical time to visit Santa Barbara, offering a perfect combination of holiday festivities and pleasant weather. The city is adorned with festive decorations, and there’s a special charm in the air as locals and visitors alike celebrate the season. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing getaway or an exciting holiday experience, Santa Barbara has something for everyone in December.

Santa Barbara Weather in December

In December, Santa Barbara experiences mild winter weather, with average temperatures ranging from 45°F to 67°F (7°C to 19°C). While the nights can be cooler, the days often remain sunny and comfortable, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a break from harsh winter conditions.

Santa Barbara Events in December

1. Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, held in late December, showcases a diverse selection of independent and international films. Film enthusiasts can attend screenings, discussions, and panels hosted by renowned filmmakers and actors.

2. Parade of Lights

The annual Parade of Lights, typically held in early December, features a dazzling display of boats adorned with festive lights as they cruise along the Santa Barbara waterfront. Spectators can enjoy this enchanting spectacle from various vantage points along the shoreline.

3. Holiday Market at the Old Mission

The Holiday Market at the Old Mission offers a charming festive experience, with vendors selling unique gifts, artisan products, and seasonal treats. Visitors can explore the market’s offerings while enjoying live music and the beautiful backdrop of the historic Santa Barbara Mission.

Santa Barbara’s top places to visit in December

1. Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf, the oldest working wharf on the West Coast, is a delightful destination in December. Visitors can stroll along the pier, enjoy the stunning ocean views, and explore the local shops and restaurants. With holiday decorations adorning the area, it’s a festive and picturesque spot to visit.

2. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden offers a tranquil escape amidst native California flora. In December, visitors can appreciate the seasonal blooms while taking leisurely walks along the garden’s peaceful pathways. This is an ideal place to reconnect with nature and unwind during the holiday season.

3. Old Mission Santa Barbara

The Old Mission, known as the “Queen of the Missions,” exudes historical and architectural beauty year-round. In December, the mission is adorned with festive decorations, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Visitors can explore the grounds, learn about the mission’s rich history, and attend special holiday events.

4. Santa Barbara Harbor and Waterfront

The Santa Barbara Harbor and Waterfront area bustles with activity in December. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the palm-lined promenade, indulge in fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, and take in the beautiful views of the marina. Boat tours and excursions are also available for those seeking a maritime adventure.


For a truly memorable experience, consider exploring the local wineries in the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, where you can savor exceptional wines and enjoy scenic vineyard views.

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