Stearns Wharf is named after its creator, local Santa Barbara businessman John P. Stearns. The wooden construction was finished in 1872 and for many years served freight shipping needs. Nowadays, the wharf is home to independent shops, restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and ice cream parlors.
A particular highlight for families is the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, where children (and adults!) can admire manta rays, small sharks, and more. To see the wharf from a different perspective join a guided kayaking tour of the waterfront.
Things to know before you go
- The wharf is wheelchair accessible but can be uneven in some sections. Visitors with limited mobility may prefer to drive to the end of the wharf.
- The wharf is made up of wooden planks with gaps in between—high heels are not recommended!
- Fishing is free along the wharf.
- The boardwalk is pet friendly, but dogs must be on a leash.
How to get there
Stearns Wharf leads out into the ocean from the bottom of State Street, Santa Barbara’s main thoroughfare. Visitors can walk or cycle along the boardwalk, or drive to the end where there is a parking lot (free parking for 90 minutes). Two shuttle bus routes pass the wharf—the waterfront route that follows the beaches and the downtown route which heads along State Street.
When to get there
Stearns Wharf is open to the public 24 hours a day. The individual shops and restaurants have varying opening times, but most are open in daylight hours. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is open Wednesday through Monday, 10am-5pm.
Explore State Street
Home to shops, restaurants and galleries, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, State Street is the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Any visitor to the city is sure to pass by the street during a visit to the city, whether to eat in one of the many excellent restaurants, shop for souvenirs or stylish clothes, or watch a show at the New Vic Theatre.
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