3 Hotels on the Beach in Santa Barbara

posted by Sharon Odegaard 4 Comments
Hotel Milo Santa Barbara patio with view of the water

Santa Barbara is a gem of a small city on the coast just a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles. Ringed by stately foothills, filled with appealing Spanish-style red and white architecture, and hugging a crescent of seashore, Santa Barbara is the place for a perfect getaway to rejuvenate weary city folks. And hotels on the beach in Santa Barbara await your visit.Santa Barbara coast

When you venture to Santa Barbara, you will want to choose a hotel where you can enjoy the heart of it all. Why not head for a hotel on the beach to take full advantage of the picturesque coastline? Enjoy sand, surfing, and sun by just walking out the front door of the hotel. Relax in gardens while listening to the sound of waves crashing. Breathe in the fresh ocean air. Explore Stearns Wharf. Stroll to nearby restaurants to dine on memorable cuisine. Cycle along the paths shaded by palm trees.

Here are three of my favorite hotels on the beach in Santa Barbara. And these are pet-friendly, a plus for when you travel with your pooch.

Hotel Milo

Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara, Hotel Milo sprawls along the waterfront, drawing your attention to its dark blue architecture and gardens. Its prime location allows you to walk to the wharf, the harbor, and the breakwater as well as along the coast. Hotel Milo offers guests the choice of two pools as well as a workout room. Complimentary bicycles allow you to explore Santa Barbara to your heart’s content.

Rooms feature contemporary sea-themed decor that carries out the dark blue color scheme.Hotel Milo Santa Barbara ocean view room Chad’s, the onsite restaurant, serves the best breakfasts I’ve found in Santa Barbara. You’re greeted with a basket of little muffins just out of the oven. And of course, you eat while gazing out the window at the water.

My favorite things about Hotel Milo:

The location is wonderful for walking along the coast, riding bicycles along the water, and accessing water activities such as kayaking. The wharf, with its dining and maritime museum, is a couple minutes’ walk away. The harbor is across the street, with its restaurants and another maritime museum.

Landscaping and patios, with tile accents, create a pleasant atmosphere.Hotel Milo Santa Barbara Garden and fountain

The rooms on the second floor provide a view over the water where you can take in fabulous sunrises and sunsets from the patio. Ask for an upgrade when checking in. I’ve had good luck getting view rooms in the slower season.Hotel Milo Santa Barbara patio with view of the water

The fire pits on the patios give you a great place to hang out in the evening.Hotel Milo Santa Barbara fire pit

Note that there are no elevators to the upper floor rooms. The energetic valets will carry all your luggage up (and down), but if you have mobility issues, ask for a ground-floor room.

Book your dream stay at Hotel Milo and enjoy this perfectly located, charming hotel.

The Mar Monte Hotel

Entrance of the Mar Monte Hotel Santa Barbara CaliforniaJust steps from the beach, this charming boutique hotel gives you luxury and views of the water. The vibe of the Mar Monte Hotel is modern and sophisticated, with some rooms boasting private balconies that face either the coast or the mountains. The coastal décor is perfect for a seaside getaway.Terrace at the Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara CaliforniaMar Monte Hotel Santa Barbara room

The hotel has two restaurants. One is suited to an elegant dinner. The other, the café, is convenient for a casual dinner and a glass of wine after a day of sightseeing. Eating at the hotel saves you driving downtown and dealing with parking lots. The hotel is also close to many delightful restaurants. Fresh seafood and gourmet cuisine is within walking distance.

The Mar Monte Hotel also features an inviting pool, where you can take a refreshing dip or simply unwind with a cocktail in hand. If you’re after ultimate relaxation, the on-site spa ensures every guest leaves feeling rejuvenated and pampered.

The Mar Monte Hotel is known for its friendly staff. From the front desk to the valets, you’ll encounter smiling and helpful people.

Author and her pup at the Patio and fountain at Mar Monte Hotel Santa Barbara

My favorite things about the Mar Monte:

You can walk across the street to the beach, which includes a large lawn area dotted with palm trees. While the day away while you sit back and relax.Mar Monte Hotel Santa Barbara

From the hotel, the walk to the wharf and back takes about an hour. Enjoy stunning views and stick to the paved walkway or tromp through sand. Your choice. You can’t go wrong.

Book your stay at the Mar Monte for beachside fun in the sun.

The Marina Beach Motel

Marina Beach Motel Santa Barbara CaliforniaThe Marina Beach Motel on Bath Street, just a half block from the water, opened in January 1941. While the rooms are comfortably and tastefully modern, the footprint of the original motel remains. The rooms form a U, and you can park right in front of your unit, just like in bygone days. In the center of the U, a lawn and outdoor furniture beckon you to relax. Bicycles and a surrey are available for no additional charge.

A light breakfast of local pastries, bagels, and yogurt is served each morning. And you can sit on the porch swing and watch locals out for a stroll or walking their dogs.Marina Beach Motel Santa Barbara front of hotel with swing

The motel’s charming coastal decor is a standout benefit. Creating a warm and inviting atmosphere, the interior design reflects the laid-back elegance of Santa Barbara. I felt so at home in the pale blue and gray décor.Room at the Marina Beach Motel Santa Barbara California

My favorite things about the Marina Beach Motel:

The cozy atmosphere of this small motel draws me to return time after time.Marina Beach Motel Santa Barbara sign and flowers

And the prime location of the Marina Beach Motel is perfect for an easy walk to the wharf, the harbor, the breakwater, and restaurants.

The complimentary bicycles are a big draw. I’ve ridden from the motel to Butterfly Beach (about 5 miles with a few steep hills included). On a sunny morning, you are sure to love this ride.

Book your stay at the Marina Beach Motel for a relaxing vacation and easy walk to the Santa Barbara Harbor.

While you have so many choices of lodging, these three hotels allow for a memorable and rich stay in Santa Barbara.

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Things to do in Santa Barbara near the beach

Things to do in Santa Barbara include spending time at the water for many reasons. There’s a historic wharf, a lovely harbor, a winding path for walking or cycling, and restaurants with delicious food.

Staying at the beach area allows you to access all these activities easily. You can pop outside to take in a sunset. You can take your dog for a walk along the harbor. You can kayak or go sailing. You can spend as long as you want lazing by the pool or kicking back in a charming garden.

Here are a few things to do when you stay at the beach without even getting in your car.

Visit iconic Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara CaliforniaFirst, head to the most iconic symbol of Santa Barbara. Jutting out over the water where State Street ends, Stearns Wharf is a favorite Santa Barbara landmark. It’s suffered four major fires since it opened in 1872, closing for as long as nine years. But after every disaster, the city rebuilds and reopens the destroyed restaurants and shops. Today, the Wharf thrives.

Walk along the harbor on The Fisherman’s Walk

The ocean beckons, so once you arrive in town, you will want to head to the shore. For a pleasant walk with your dog, choose the harbor, where East Cabrillo Boulevard turns into Shoreline Drive. Boats bob in the current, kayaks and sailboats glide through the calm waters, and the paved walkway lined with lawn is ideal for walking your dog.Santa Barbara Harbor

Turn left at the end of the walkway onto The Fisherman’s Walk.Fishermans Walk Santa Barbara

You can take this down past shops to the breakwater. This section is lined with flags, gives you a view back to the city and the foothills, with the harbor right in front of you. Look across the small bay to the wharf, and you may spy surfers riding the waves.

Stroll (or ride!) on the Cabrillo Bike Path

One of the popular paved paths along the shoreline in Santa Barbara is the Cabrillo Bike Path. This path runs along East Beach and extends for several miles, providing a wonderful route for walking. You may want to veer across the lawn to the sidewalk to avoid bicycles and surreys. And always keep an eye out for approaching bicyclists.

And you may want to rent a surrey for a ride along this path. It’s flat, scenic, and fun!Bike path in Santa Barbara along the coasePup and owner riding a surrey on the sidewalk

Be amazed at the collections of the Carriage and Western Art Museum

This hidden gem of historic Santa Barbara will surprise you. Tucked away in a corner of Pershing Park on Castillo, the Santa Barbara Carriage and Western Art Museum transports you right into the past. An extensive collection of vintage carriages, saddles, and Western art offers a window into history. Outside the museum is a street of storefronts with an 1800s feel. With a goal to preserve historic horse-drawn vehicles and Western memorabilia, this non-profit museum is free to the public.Carriage and Western Art Museum Santa Barbara

Enjoy a night on the town in the Funk Zone

Unique to Santa Barbara, the Funk Zone offers restaurants and bars sure to provide a lively evening. Historic marine structures and industrial lots have been transformed into eating places featuring outdoor patios where you can mix and mingle. Located between State Street and Garden Street, the Funk Zone comes to life when the sun goes down. Walk here from your hotel and party to your heart’s content.

FAQs About Santa Barbara

Where Is Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara is just a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles, so it’s a perfect choice for a quiet weekend getaway. And if you’re driving the California coastal route, Santa Barbara is an ideal place to spend a day or two during your road trip.

What is the basic lay of the land for explorations of Santa Barbara?

It helps to know that the main street of downtown, State Street, runs north from the shore. The wharf reaches over the water just south of State street. The street that hugs the shore is Cabrillo Boulevard. You can walk or bike to see many of the attractions, as streets go under Highway 101 and nothing is far apart.

Many numbered parking lots dot the downtown area. Take a photo of your parking lot so you remember which one to return to and the street it’s on. If you’re a visitor, it’s easy to confuse the street names such as Anacapa and Anapamu, and Cabrillo and Castillo and Carillo.
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What about the cost of these beautiful hotels?

The cost of hotels in Santa Barbara varies by season and day of the week. You may be able to book a room for under $200 a night if you stay midweek in winter. In summer, prices can run from in the $300s to much higher on weekends. Check the hotel websites for more information. Sign up to be notified of specials, such as holiday discounts. The Mar Monte Hotel is under Hyatt’s umbrella, so if you have Hyatt points, you may be able to stay for no charge.

What are some fabulous restaurants within walking distance of these hotels?

Read on for favorite eateries to cover your day of activity.

Chad’s

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Chad’s. This restaurant snagged a prime location right across from the waterfront with amazing views. And the breakfast foods, especially the pancakes, are yummy. Sit outside on the patio under a perky yellow umbrella and savor your food and morning coffee as you gaze at the beach.Chads Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Fish House

My favorite dinner place in Santa Barbara is the Fish House. With it’s location right across the street from the beach. And the fresh fish is scrumptious. I always get macadamia nut crusted sea bass because it’s exquisite. Your pup can relax on the patio while you eat.Santa Barbara Fish House RestaurantSanta Barbara Fish House Restaurant

Anchor Rose

Anchor Rose Restaurant is a new dining spot located next to the harbor Santa Barbara. It’s known for its rooftop seating and stunning views of bobbing boats and the foothills. And you’ll dine on some of the freshest, tastiest seafood ever. My favorite dish is the scallops over citrus beurre blanc. And this is the view from our waterside table on a summer evening.Scallops at Anchor Rose Restaurant Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara Harbor

Come beach casual or dressed up for a special occasion. Owner Amy Rose greeted us personally and made us feel so welcome. We’re repeat customers here!Amy Rose, Owner of Anchor Rose Restaurant Santa Barbara

Chase Restaurant

If you are hankering for Italian, go to lunch or dinner at Chase Restaurant on State Street in downtown Santa Barbara. The large outdoor dining area welcomes your dog, and heaters are provided for chilly nights.Chase Restaurant Santa Barbara

McConnell’s Ice Cream

Top off your day with an ice cream from McConnell’s. You’ll easily find the shop because a line of people will be coming out the door. And the wait is worth it. McConnell’s has served handmade ice cream for 70 years, and it’s a creamy delight. No preservatives or fillers, just flavors like salted caramel and Dutchman’s chocolate. You can easily walk from the wharf to the McConnells at 120 State Street.McConnells Ice Cream Santa Barbara

If your dog can eat ice cream, get a small cup or cone of vanilla so you can all share in the delight.McConnells Ice Cream Santa Barbara

Final Thoughts:

Take full advantage of the lovely coastline in Santa Barbara by staying at one of these hotels.View from room at the Mar Monte Hotel Santa Barbara

Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara SunriseAnd of course, you can bicycle or drive beyond the beach area to so many beautiful and historic places in this red-tile-roof city. You will always find relaxing and fascinating things to do in Santa Barbara!Santa Barbara coastline

LEARN MORE ABOUT SANTA BARBARA

Exploring Historic Santa Barbara
Pet-Friendly Santa Barbara Activities
Fun Things to Do in Santa Barbara
Visiting Iconic Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

 

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4 Comments

Kirsten at

Thanks for sharing your insights, Sharon! Your detailed descriptions make me feel like I’ve already experienced the beauty of Santa Barbara through the lens of these three beachfront hotels. The personal touch in your recommendations, such as requesting an upgrade for a view room at Hotel Milo or the charming coastal decor at Marina Beach Motel, adds a special touch that makes me eager to plan my own visit!

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Eliza at

This is perfect! Thanks! You saved me hours if research for my visit to Santa Barbar.

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Katelynn K. at

Great post. The hotels are all so cute and your photos with your dog are even cuter! I haven’t made it to Santa Barbara so this is great info!

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Christy S. at

Hotels on the beach make for a relaxing stay and I love the idea of complimentary bicycles. Santa Barbara is always a favorite place to visit as the restaurants, shops and hikes are great.

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