Updated for 2023.
Are you someone who has all their gifts purchased and wrapped by Halloween? Or do you, like most of us, think we have enough time until we don’t? Instead of stressing out about it, get out your calendar and use our guide to holiday shopping in Santa Barbara. Plan a fun getaway, and finish all your holiday shopping in Santa Barbara, all in one trip. Or take a trip after the holidays to take advantage of sales. What better place to enjoy the season while finding inspiration from a cornucopia of fantastic stores?
We have everything from malls to boutiques to pop-up shops and holiday markets! So plan your shopping getaway now. Everyone will swear you went to the North Pole to find their unique gifts when the holidays roll around. We promise not to tell!
When the weather is balmy (as it is most of the time here in Santa Barbara), there is nothing better than to shop at an outdoor market. These holiday markets will have a distinctly different flavor than some of the holiday markets you may have seen in Europe — a true California vibe.
Makers and Wares Market
Located at de la Guerra Place in the courtyard, the Makers and Wares Market is open from Tuesdays through Sundays in the afternoons and evenings. Visit local artisans’ booths to find unique gifts, including clothing, jewelry, artwork, candles, chocolates, and books.
Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show
The SB Arts and Crafts Show is open on Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm at Cabrillo Blvd. You will find fine art and contemporary art pieces and crafts. This tradition has been in place since 1965.
State St. Promenade Market
If you are in town on the first Thursday, stroll down to the 1000 block of State Street between 3 pm and 8 pm to see arts, crafts, performers, and restaurants at the State St. Promenade Market.
If you have visited farmers markets lately, you know that you will find so much more than fresh produce there. There will be local honey, canned goods, and many great ideas for any foodie friend that you have. Santa Barbara has six different farmers markets, one in a different location every day except Monday.
Mujeres Makers Market
Once a month, the Mujeres Makers Market is open on 35 Anacapa St, featuring goods sold by underrepresented women of color.
Sometimes you just want to go to a central location with plenty of different shops and restaurants. Paseo Nuevo fits that bill, with more than 50 shops, including national chains like Aveda, Victoria’s Secret, and the Gap, and many smaller stores, such as Zitzillan Imports and Seaside Makers Collective.
What makes Paseo especially fun this time of year is the snow and the carolers. Yes, we said snow! Every night from the weekend after Thanksgiving until the end of the year, at 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm, there is a snowfall in the Center Court (totally gluten-free and non-toxic). On weekends, you will find costumed carolers, holiday horns, and local choirs. That will certainly put you in the spirit!
Specialty Shopping Areas
Aside from malls and outdoor holiday shopping, Santa Barbara is jam-packed with many unique shopping areas. Here are a few:
Housed in a Spanish Revival courtyard complex, La Arcada offers many fun and different shops, like Lewis and Clark, for unique gifts, the Crafter’s Library for classes or hand-crafted items, or Renaissance Fine Consignment, just to name a few. And while you are there, make sure you check out the turtle pond!
The Victorian Court is hidden back through a nondescript entryway at 1221 State St. This is the place if you are looking for vintage or secondhand stores. It is also close to the Museum of Art gift store, which has a marvelous selection of treasures, books, and games. Note you don’t have to pay for entrance to the museum to visit the store. Note that you don’t have to pay to visit the museum to visit the store.
Loreto Plaza is another easy-to-miss location on Upper State Street. However, you won’t want to miss Chaucer’s Bookstore, one of the best local independent bookstores, or Seven Day Nursery for unique gifts for your favorite gardener.
Another open-air area that is in uptown Santa Barbara is LaCumbre Plaza. Here, you will find a mix of national brands like Chicos, Macy’s, Williams Sonoma, and some independent boutiques.
If you are already planning to visit the Waterfront, don’t forget the shops at Stearns Wharf, especially if you are looking for nautical or sea-related items. You will find toys, candy, shells, and general merchandise.
The Funk Zone
You may have heard about the Funk Zone with its restaurants and tasting rooms. Plan a few tastings, but don’t walk past some great shops! The Blue Door has three floors of new and vintage home goods. From hand-printed textiles, towels, art, and accessories, check out Raoul Store. There are also men’s and women’s clothing shops.
We didn’t even cover shops in nearby Montecito, Carpinteria, or Summerland in putting together this guide for holiday shopping in Santa Barbara! So make sure you give yourself plenty of time for retail therapy when making your getaway reservation! And while you are here, look at our list of holiday events so you can include them on your trip.