Framed by the Santa Ynez Mountain and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is an enticing treasure on California's central coast. Downtown brims with Mediterranean-style buildings, shops, urban wineries and award-winning restaurants. Outside of town, you'll find many five-star resorts, landscaped gardens and huge estates with sea views. Such beauty and romance make it the ideal place to get hitched. Whether you’ve always fantasized about an intimate ceremony surrounded by blooms, doing something small at the historic courthouse or twirling around the dance floor in some grand hotel ballroom, Santa Barbara has the perfect wedding venue to make your nuptial dreams come true. Scroll on for the best spots to enter matrimonial bliss in "the Queen of the Missions."
The 14 Best Santa Barbara Wedding Venues
1. Santa Barbara County Courthouse
Built in 1929, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a storied landmark that towers above the city—and it just so happens to be where Kamala Harris tied the knot! It’s easy to see why the vice president and countless other couples love this historic site so much. The lovely landscaped gardens and manicured lawns are unrivaled for alfresco “I do’s.” Plus, you can snap first-look photos underneath the iconic Clock Tower.
2. The Ritz-carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
A spellbinding spot for a lavish destination wedding or elopement, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara sits on 78 impeccably landscaped acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean with two miles of beach. It’s a massive and majestic property with tons of different venues, from sea-view terraces for an outdoor ceremony to a regal ballroom, so you can really customize the flow of your once-in-a-lifetime event.
3. Santa Barbara Historical Museum
Lovebirds looking for a beautiful setting with heaps of history should add one of the oldest cultural institutions in the area to their wedding venue shortlist. Situated in the El Pueblo Viejo District, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum tells the story of the city through an impressive collection of artifacts. While the Spanish architecture and alfresco courtyards with fountains rev up the romance of this special occasion-worthy space.
4. Hotel Californian
Located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara near the Funk Zone, the revamped Hotel Californian has multiple venue options. There are rooftops with panoramic ocean and mountain views, a grassy lawn and a grand ballroom. If your guest list totals less than 50 people, check out the wine tasting room, which also offers a patio and mezzanine for alfresco nibbles and sips.
5. Cabrillo Pavilion
We can’t resist seaside nuptials. After exchanging vows in a gorgeous ceremony on the sands of East Beach, invite your guests to enjoy cocktails, dinner and dancing at Cabrillo Pavilion, a revamped 1920s landmark with an upper-level events room and a duo of ocean-view terraces. Since it fits up to 215 people, you won’t have to stress about cutting down your guest list.
6. El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel
A five-star property that feels like a fantasy with an utterly storybook vibe, the El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel is nothing short of enchanting. Each event space seems more magical than the last. And the photo ops are endless. Get your squad together for pics in front of the lily pond, walk down the flower-lined aisle as a candy-colored sunset sweeps across the sky and dance the night away in a spectacular ballroom.
7. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Who doesn’t love a botanic garden? Envision saying “I do” encircled by 78 acres of native California plants, verdant meadows and redwoods. That’s the scene at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. It gives off glorious flower child bride (and groom) vibes. Bonus: with blooms and greenery galore, you’ll save tons of florals.
8. Carousel House
Seeking a beautiful venue that won’t blow your entire wedding budget? Consider the Carousel House. Tucked away on the western end of Chase Palm Park, this stunning and surprisingly affordable option sits on ten acres of picturesque waterfront property. The greenhouse-inspired event space has huge glass windows and a capacity of 180 for a seated dinner. Adding to the romance of it all are the views of the lawn with a planted fountain.
9. Santa Barbara Zoo
Lovebirds, gray wolves and seahorses all mate for life. You're likely to encounter these monogamous creatures when taking the plunge at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Amazing animals aren’t the only draw. If you have a huge guest list, the sprawling hilltop reception site will give up to 2,500 friends and family plenty of room to mingle. On the feel-good side of things, revenue from private events goes directly to support conservation and education efforts.
10. A.c. Postel Memorial Rose Garden
Of all the swoon-worthy locations in Santa Barbara, few compare to the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden. A fragrant and colorful wonderland, adjacent to the Santa Barbara Mission, with more than 1,500 rose plants that erupt into bloom in the spring, it’s the perfect venue for couples seeking an outdoor setting that still has a polished and refined yet laid-back feel.
11. Kimpton Canary Santa Barbara
Take advantage of the more than 300 days of sunshine each year with an outdoor ceremony on the Mediterranean-meets-California-style rooftop at the Kimpton Canary Santa Barbara. Reserve the entire space to soak in the ambiance and 360-degree views of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Prefer an indoor setting steeped in elegance? Book the more formal ballroom. Either way, we promise your out-of-town guests will adore the accommodations.
12. Riviera Mansion
Want all the pomp and circumstance of a big shindig? The Riviera Mansion is a resplendent event venue near Alice Keck Park with gorgeous gardens and stately interiors reminiscent of a regal, old-school country club (think: original hardwoods, chandeliers and brocade furnishings). Because weddings are their bread and butter, you can rest assured that the on-site coordinators will take the stress out of the planning process.
13. Old Mission Santa Barbara
The only mission in the area to have been continuously occupied by Franciscan friars since its founding in 1786, Old Mission Santa Barbara is a national historical landmark and shares the title of “the most photographed building in Santa Barbara” with the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. For couples keen on a traditional ceremony surrounded by friends, family and heaps of history, it’s truly a timeless choice.
14. Santa Barbara Inn
Santa Barbara has more than its fair share of hotels with beautiful grounds, breathtaking views and dreamy digs. We really love the Santa Barbara Inn for its quaint ambiance and downtown location. This 70-room boutique gem flaunts more than 1,300 square feet of event space—including the elegant Montecito Room, which features ocean views and accommodates up to 90 guests.
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