Welcome to the Santa Barbara meeting and event planning guide – written specifically with meeting planners in mind. This walkable, friendly Southern California city, known for its wide beaches, diverse architecture and local wineries, is also regarded as a fantastic destination for meetings and conferences. A variety of Santa Barbara event venues can host all kinds of special events, while the town's world-class art, shopping, entertainment and cuisine rival those of any major metropolitan center.
Coined The American Riviera (thanks to its beautiful landscape and culture), Santa Barbara is nestled amongst the foothills of the Sana Ynez Mountains along the Pacific Ocean. Located eight miles northwest of downtown, the Santa Barbara Airport serves five domestic nonstop destinations, as well as more than 200 one-stop destinations. More than 700,000 passengers pass through the airport each year. Santa Barbara is also served by Los Angeles International Airport, which is located 90 miles southeast of the city. Ranked fifth in the world for passenger traffic, Los Angeles International sees nearly 62 million people per year. Serving 69 international destinations and 87 domestic destinations, the airport offers flights on virtually every major carrier and is the main hub for United Airlines. Santa Barbara is served by the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District public bus system, which provides direct access to Santa Barbara Airport and such meeting sites as the Earl Warren Showgrounds.
Santa Barbara is home to a number of hotel and non-hotel meeting and event venues, including the Earl Warren Showgrounds, Bacara Resort & Spa and Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort. Sitting on 34 acres, the multi-use Earl Warren Showgrounds offers 35,000 square feet of event space, in such spaces as the 22,000-square-foot Exhibit Building and 13,000-square-foot Warren Hall. The beachfront, 354-room Bacara Resort & Spa offers 25,000 square feet of meeting space in such spaces as its dedicated high-tech Executive Conference Center and 211-seat Screening Room. Located one half-mile from downtown Santa Barbara, Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort offers 360 rooms and 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space.
Santa Barbara's many attractions, museums and historical sites also double as convenient unique venues perfect for group gatherings and events. Regarded as Santa Barbara's chief cultural and historic landmark, Old Mission Santa Barbara is home to a community of Franciscan friars, active church and museum, as well as a “renewal center,” complete with guest rooms and private event spaces. Groups can charter the Condor Express catamaran for a dinner or party cruise, as well as a whale-watching trip along the Santa Barbara Channel and Channel Islands, home to blue, gray, humpback and orca whales. The 30-acre Santa Barbara Zoo welcomes groups to hold events throughout its ocean-view grounds, as well as participate in animal encounter activities. Santa Barbara's museums, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History/Ty Warner Sea Center and Santa Barbara Maritime Museum also offer private event opportunities. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History features a number of indoor and outdoor spaces, ranging from a Spanish-style building to an outdoor stone amphitheater, while the museum's Ty Warner Sea Center on Stearns Wharf welcomes private events in its two-story reception hall with spectacular ocean views. Situated in the heart of a working harbor, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum can accommodate private events in such spaces as its 88-person Munger Theater.