Celebrate music, food, crafts—all while exploring a historic seaside town this fall.
Who: Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival
What: A waterfront event celebrating lobster season
Where: Santa Barbara, California
When: Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014
Why: Located along the Santa Barbara Harbor, this yearly event offers the perfect opportunity to indulge in the area’s best seafood.
How: Visit harborfestival.org for more info and day-of activities.
Take part in Santa Barbara’s premier autumn celebration, where you’ll find the tastiest fare from the harbor.
Each year on the second Saturday in October, countless fishing boats sail into Santa Barbara Harbor, carrying nets full of the sea’s finest offerings. As the bounty is unloaded along the harbor, flocks of tourists wait anxiously to pick their favorites to be prepared by local chefs.
The Santa Barbara Harbor & Seafood Festival, a tradition of the “American Riviera,” is meant to coincide with lobster season. You’ll find more than just lobster at this seaside celebration, though. There’s sea bass, shark, swordfish, crab, oysters, and much more.
The event began several decades ago as a Fishermen’s Festival and featured the “Blessing of the Fleet.” Boats filled with people and decorated with flowers and streamers paraded through the waters. However, the tradition slowly lost popularity through the years. In its absence, a new seaside event called the Harbor Festival began as a fund-raiser for a local charity. In 2002, the festival was revived yet again and moved to the fall of the year to coincide with lobster season and to support local fisheries.
Today, the festival boasts more than just seafood. Along the harbor, you’ll find arts and crafts booths, fishing demonstrations, dockside tours, and live music. Vendors showcasing handmade jewelry, clothing, and custom artwork line the waterfront. Festivalgoers even have an opportunity to participate in a sea shanty sing-along. Step away from the festivities, and you’ll have your pick of the best seaside dining, all offering fresh fare from the harbor. A variety of ocean-front restaurants are available offering delightful views.
This year’s festival will be held October 11. Admission is free. For more information, visit harborfestival.org.
WHERE TO STAY:
Simpson House Inn
Nestled on an acre of English gardens overflowing with quant cottages and guests rooms, the inn invites you to pamper yourself while visiting the harbor. Since 1874 this luxurious getaway has been enticing visitors with its charming Victorian-era feel and relaxing amenities. simpsonhouseinn.com
Hotel Santa Barbara
In the heart of downtown, Hotel Santa Barbara is overflowing with historic charm. Open the front door, and you’ll be a step away from fine dining, shopping, superb entertainment, and of course— the harbor! hotelsantabarbara.com
WHERE TO EAT:
Chuck’s Waterfront Grill
Watch the boats roll in at this seafood and steak house. For 41 years, Chuck’s has attracted visitors with its prime location on the water and a relaxed dining experience. chuckswaterfrontgrill.com
The Harbor Restaurant
With a romantic setting on the harbor, this restaurant offers not only exquisite food but also an exquisite view. Come dine at The Harbor Restaurant and you’ll be treated to great eats while watching the sun set on the bay. harborsb.com
Brophy Bros. Restaurant & Clam Bar
For a fun and lively atmosphere, have dinner with the Brophy Bros. Known for their clam bar, this restaurant will give you an authentic taste of the American Riviera while taking your breath away with a stunning view of the water. brophybros.com
WHAT TO DO:
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Preserving the heritage of the California Coast, the Maritime Museum overlooks Santa Barbara Harbor and celebrates the long history of the waterfront. Housed in a former Naval Reserve Building, the museum boasts ships from the early 19th century. sbmm.org
Explore sea vessels from years gone by at one of the many dockside tours hosted along the waterfront during the festival. You can even venture through a U.S. Coast Guard ship! harborfestival .org/activities.php