If there is one street that Santa Barbara revolves around, it is State Street. State Street is the heart and soul of Santa Barbara. It is a mix of galleries, museums, theatres, and other quaint shops.
Some advice regarding parking; park your car in one of the parking lots next to State Street or curbside on one of it’s perpendicular adjoining streets. Then simply walk to State Street. Parking is tough to find directly on State Street and can be quite crowded especially in the afternoon. You can also park on some of the parallel side streets; this may in fact be even easier then fighting for parking in the lots which can be quite fierce. Santa Barbara street which is one way and parallel to State Street & often has very easy parking on the curb sides of the street.
Lower State Street is a bit different then the downtown and the upper part of the street. Lower State contains quite a few cafes and bars. This part of the street caters to young people, you will also often find many couples strolling along this part of the street.
If you walk along lower State Street make sure you stop into O’Malleys or Sandbar. Sandbar is the younger establishment of the two, having replaced the old Calypso Bar & Grill a number of years ago. Locals have told us that a bar with the word “wave” in it’s name predated Calypso. O’Malleys has been in their present location for as long as anyone can remember. Sandbar serves excellent breakfast and bills themselves as being a “recipe for a good time”. They have a dance floor. Both O’Malleys and Sandbar have the feel of being “part of the street.” For more information about either of these two fun establishments, visit the restaurant section of this article.
There is nothing better we would rather do then sit for hours at either place sipping a brew and watching life walk by. Besides Sandbar and O’Malleys there are also many other quaint street side cafes and restaurants located along this lower part of State Street.
The feel of State Street virtually changes in the evening hours – the friendly low key feel of the milling tourists during the day changes to one of energy and a younger crowd. The bars come alive at night with people often spilling out onto the sidewalks.
Some of the galleries on the downtown part of State Street are quite expensive. We saw the most expensive painting that we have ever seen in an art gallery for sale in one gallery. It was selling for $150,000. Even though these prices are currently out of our range, we always enjoy the diversity of pieces on display.