Located just up the road from its nearest big city, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is an ocean-side nirvana, where days rarely heat up past "comfortable in shirtsleeves" or cool down past "grab a jacket, just in case." And though there can be a few anomalous days--especially the quirky weather in June, when foggy mornings linger a bit--weather is mostly well, perfect.
What to pack
If you're hanging out near the beach, you may be surprised to find out the ocean can be downright chilly most of the year. Though it warms in the summer, beachside can still be breezy. Year-round, you'll do best to start out with a few layers, a short sleeve shirt with a light jacket just to ward off the morning chill. Shorts are usually fine, but Santa Barbara tends to be a fairly upscale town, so if you want to fit in with the locals, forgo the tourist Bermudas and opt instead for lighter linen pants, jeans or khakis, especially if you're going wine tasting. You'll feel more at home.
Despite its reputation for being the playground of the rich and famous (and trust us, you'll likely see a star or two), casual wear is the name of the game. There's almost never a need for a sportcoat or tie, unless you're planning to be at some very elegant events. Women may want to bring some interesting scarves to accessorize (and double as a wrap on cooler nights).
Santa Barbara, as we mentioned, is every bit California casual, but because of its proximity to trendy LA and the number of wealthy folks living in the area, you may want to dress up for dinner just a bit. Though even the most sophisticated restaurants usually welcome diners dressed in pretty much anything appropriate for a casual office environment: slacks and a sweater, a comfortable skirt, pants, you'll want to avoid jeans or shorts--or be labeled a tourist.
The People You'll Meet
Santa Barbara itself has many second homes of wealthy celebrities, politicians and the otherwise well-heeled (and those who want to be near them). You'll find plenty of upscale shops and restaurants that cater to these folks. However, the areas just outside the town of Santa Barbara tend to be much more laid back and quickly veer toward rural. There is also a significant Latino population, which contributes to a multicultural feel and plenty of excellent taquerias to try out.
Throughout the summer, expect highs to be in the 70's and 80s and lows to dip into the 50s, at their lowest. As the weather warms, along with the ocean, the evenings will stay a bit balmier.