Advantages to Visiting Santa Barbara in Winter

The typical vision of a southern California vacation includes sunny beaches and long summer days spent outside; and while this version of SB is spectacular, there are still plenty of reasons to visit this town in the months between November and March. From annual festivals to exciting wildlife interactions, here’s our compilation of the six best advantages to visiting Santa Barbara in Winter:


Perhaps the most obvious advantage of any southern California town is the year-round warm weather. Regardless of the season, you can be sure that your trip to Santa Barbara will be sunny. January has a tendency to yield unusually hot days that are perfect for going to the beach or taking a hike. As an added bonus, you can also count on less crowds and might even find yourself on a deserted Butterfly Beach in Montecito.


Along with the great weather, surfers would be wise to visit SB in the Winter for the bigger, better waves. In addition to smaller crowds, it is best to get out on the water in the months between November and March for swells with a strong westerly direction that provide fun, satisfying rides. Beginners should start at Ledbetter or Santa Claus Beach, while more the more advanced always head to the famous Rincon in Carpinteria.


One of the most stunning and awe-inspiring reasons to visit Santa Barbara in the winter is to witness the gray whale migration that happens every year from December to April. SB is a prime-whale watching destination, and any trip during this time would be incomplete without a cruise on The Condor Express or the Double Dolphin. However, you can even expect to see blow spouts, spy-hopping and migrating whales from the shore if your eyes are sharp and patient enough!


The annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, held Downtown and across the city in February, is a widely renowned and respected event that brings actors, filmmakers, and movie-buffs together for ten days of cinematic excitement. The festival is world-famous and something local Santa Barbarans look forward to all year, making it one of the top advantages of a winter trip to SB!


Along with gray whales, another exciting advantage to visiting Santa Barbara in the winter is the opportunity to see the Monarch Butterfly season in its peak. Starting in mid-November and continuing through mid-February, this time of year is prime for viewing hundreds of thousands of the bright orange butterflies in their natural habitat. Head to the The Goleta Butterfly Grove and walk in awe amongst the eucalyptus for a truly special experience.


The last advantage on our list is the UCSB Arts & Lectures event calendar that packs winter in Santa Barbara with a plethora of cultural and artistic happenings throughout the season. These events include special guest lectures, visual and musical performances, one-of-a-kind workshops and much more. Some of this year’s lineup includes talks by George Takei, Gloria Steinem and Elizabeth Gilbert, just to name a few.

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