Harbor and Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Getty Images/Gallo Images

Stearns Wharf

Santa Barbara

The southern end of State St gives way to Stearns Wharf, a rough wooden pier lined with souvenir shops, snack stands and seafood shacks. Built in 1872, it’s the oldest continuously operating wooden wharf in California, although the actual structure has been rebuilt more than once. During the 1940s it was co-owned by tough-guy actor Jimmy Cagney and his brothers. If you have kids, take them inside the Sea Center.

The first 90 minutes parking on the wharf are free. But trust us, you’d rather walk than drive over the wharf’s bumpy wooden slats. The wharf entrance is a stop on MTD's downtown and waterfront shuttles.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Barbara attractions

1. West Beach

0.11 MILES

Central, palm-tree-backed stretch of sand, right next to Stearns Wharf and the harbor (swimming isn't advisable). It's also the setting for large outdoor…

2. Sea Center

0.19 MILES

From touch tanks full of tide-pool critters and crawl-through aquariums to whale sing-alongs, this place is interactive, educational and bound to keep the…



This next-gen science museum is an interactive treasure trove of exhibits and experiences related to sound, technology, speed, light and color that are…

4. Chase Palm Park

0.45 MILES

Kid-friendly waterfront park with a shipwreck-themed playground, lake with ducks and turtles, and a carousel dating from 1916. The shuttle bus stops here.

5. East Beach

0.57 MILES

Santa Barbara’s largest and most popular beach is a long, sandy stretch sprawling east of Stearns Wharf, with volleyball nets for pick-up games, a…

6. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

0.62 MILES

On the harborfront, this jam-packed two-story exhibition celebrates Santa Barbara's briny history with nautical artifacts, memorabilia and hands-on…

7. Santa Barbara Historical Museum

0.83 MILES

Embracing a romantic cloistered adobe courtyard, this peaceful little museum tells the story of Santa Barbara. Its endlessly fascinating collection of…

8. Casa de la Guerra

0.83 MILES

This grand 19th-century colonial adobe home displays Spanish, Mexican and California heritage exhibits. Dating back two centuries, it's been authentically…