There are plenty of historic sites in Santa Barbara, California, but there’s only one that’s an absolute must-see if you’re ever in the area. Stearns Wharf is unlike any other pier in beach towns all over the U.S. It juts out for 2,300 feet into the cold Pacific waters, and it features over 3.8 acres of area. It’s fairly large in comparison, and it’ll take you more than a day to explore everything on the Wharf. If you simply had a few hours to spare at Stearns Wharf, I highly suggest that you walk the length of the pier during the sunset hours to admire the view of the Central Coast mountains and the waters. Otherwise, you should really immerse yourself in this wonderful piece of Santa Barbara history and explore the Wharf over the course of an entire day or even a few days.
A Quick History
Just so you can really appreciate the attraction, you should know that Stearns Wharf is California’s oldest working wooden wharf. Stearns Wharf was built in 1872, and it has endured severe storms, ship crashes, and plenty of other things that history and Mother Nature had to offer. The Wharf currently has about seventeen businesses right on it, and I’ve made a list of the best things that you can do to bide your time. Here’s what a good day at Stearns Wharf should look like:
Have breakfast at Moby Dick
There’s no other restaurant on the Wharf that’s as cool as Moby Dick. The name alone warrants a visit automatically. If you can manage to get up early enough to make it for breakfast at this restaurant, you absolutely won’t regret it. I recommend getting Moby’s Omelet, which has fresh crabmeat and lobster meat, shrimp, fish, and plenty of other good stuff all in a single dish. It’s a little pricey at $18.95 per plate, but it does come with toast, breakfast potatoes, and a view that’s just undeniably beautiful.
Get your fortune at Madame Rosinka’s
It doesn’t matter whether you believe in fortune-telling or not; you need to see Madame Rosinka’s just because it’s an experience you’ll never forget. She’s been practicing on the Wharf since 1951, so she’s basically part of the history already. Madame Rosinka can do palm readings, psychic readings, or tarot cards. I suggest you go for the tarot, and get a glimpse of your future. Maybe you’ll leave her shop feeling good about something—or maybe not.
Visit the Sea Center
Stearns Wharf has a museum on site, and it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours indoors. The Sea Center is an off-site location of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. This small museum is something that anyone can enjoy. It’s marine education at its finest, and the view inside isn’t so bad either. Why not touch a shark or learn about the Santa Barbara Channel? You’ll leave this place feeling a lot smarter than when you walked in—guaranteed.
Go fishing or go exploring
There are always anglers fishing away at the Wharf. It’s a pier after all. If you aren’t the fishing type, you should get some ice cream and spend some time watching others make a go for it. It’s fun to see someone pull up a fish or at least try to do so. The point here is to take the time to just be outside on the Wharf, explore, and relax. You can easily spend an hour or two doing this. You can find a good spot to sit on and just take the beauty of Santa Barbara in. It’s a good way to get ready for dinner.
Do the Celebration Cruise
To end your day at Stearns Wharf, you should absolutely do a dinner cruise aboard the Celebration. It’s a 42-passenger yacht that leaves a few times throughout the day. I highly recommend you do the dinner or the sunset. It’s a gorgeous time to be off the coast of Santa Barbara, and it’s really the best way to see the city. If you happen to be in the area during whale season (February to May), you will definitely see whales along the way. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and one that you might want to do again before you leave Santa Barbara.
Top Photo Credit Photo: Dori [CC BY-SA 3.0 us (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/deed.en)]