10 Best Things To Do When In Santa Maria (2023)
Santa Maria is a coastal city located in the Central Coast region of California and north of Santa Barbara County. It is a city consisting of off-beat paths that are a mix of dunes, hillsides, beaches, and wineries. Santa Maria has been into winemaking for years now which not only influenced the wine scenes of California but also helped the city to take the shape which is flourishing and rising to date.
The strategic location of this coastal city fills it with an abundance of tourism attractions, making Santa Maria one of the beloved destinations by the local Californians. No matter what kind of travel taste you carry, you will find multiple opportunities in this city that will fill your experience with fun and life with memories. For making sure that you cover all of the best here, have a look down at our list of the ten most popular things to do when in Santa Maria.
10 Best Things To Do When In Santa Maria
1. Visit the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum
A fun museum for visitors of all age groups, the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is undoubtedly worth a visit when in the city of Santa Maria. It is located at McClelland Street and can easily be reached via the local city buses. The museum was basically created to inspire the minds of youths by allowing them to expand their thoughts about the world and space. The museum is spread over 13,000 square-foot with over 25 hands-on interactive exhibitions. If you are in the city with your kids, make sure you be a part of several events and programs held here throughout the week. It is an excellent place for introducing your kids to new learnings, different tasks, and information that will help in shaping their brains.
2. Walk Down The Foxen Canyon Wine Trail
Santa Maria is a coastal wine region of California, and for getting deep into the vineyard seen of the city, there’s nothing best than walking down the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. This wine trail goes along 30 miles from Los Olivos to Santa Maria, housing a few of the most accomplished winemakers of California. From small wineries to extensive ones, you can find multiple stops for spending a special day here. Plan your whole day here, and do consider stopping at some choicest places, including Foxen, Foxen 7200, Koehler Winery, Rancho Sisquoc Winery, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, and the Zeca Mesa Winery. You can also be a part of famous events like Summer Sipping in June and the Christmas on the Trail, which is held in December.
3. Sip And Relax At The Rancho Sisquoc Winery
Rancho Sisquoc Winery is one of the famous wineries in Santa Maria, and you can visit it on your trip to the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. It isn’t just a winery but a peaceful, picturesque site to be at. They have been in the business for 40 years now and are growing over 300 acres of superb vineyards. This isn’t just a place to sip a few wine varietals, but here you can also plan for one of the most peaceful picnics of your trip. Locals of Santa Maria often head to this place for a sunny day picnic along with wine tasting amidst the cozy and comfortable settings. The wooden winery, lush green vineyards, and the mountain views at the back give it a completely different look far unique from the daily city life.
4. Tour the Santa Maria Museum of Flight
Santa Maria Museum of Flight is a site full of aviation-related memorabilia, and if you have some interest in aviation, you must not afford to miss it. The museum is right at the 3015 Airpark Drive, north of the Santa Maria Public Airport terminal and is operational only during weekends. You can enter here at a mere fee of $5 and be a part of Docent-led tours, special tours, and private events. The museum display constitutes documents, memorabilia, photographs, artifacts, along with the flight preserves. Several age-appropriate programs are organized here thought the year, of which the Thunder Over the Valley Air Show is undoubtedly a wonder to watch. If you have kids along, make them a part of the airplane modeling event where they can learn to build and paint a model airplane.
5. Have An Up-Close Experience With Animals At The Los Flores Ranch Park
Los Flores Ranch is a local city park with stunning natural surroundings and a few human-friendly animals. The Park is famous for hiking, biking and is loved by visitors of all age groups. Spread over 1778-acre, it is a hidden gem for travelers, and not even much of the locals have known about it. Here you can spend some fun time while feeding the goats or ride back the donkeys and horses, who are the habitats of this ranch. Los Flores Ranch focuses on environmental education and land preservation and offers several recreational activities and guided tours to visitors. During the migration months, the Los Flores Ranch Park in Santa Maria also attracts several migrant birds and bird watchers alike.
6. Have Fun at the Santa Maria Fairpark
Santa Maria Fairpark is a space of events in the city. It organizes multiple fun and exciting events, festivals, and programs all throughout the year entertaining both local and visiting guests. It was initially started in the year 1891 and since then has been hosting multiple events. The fairpark is spread over 33,944 sq. ft. with a sitting capacity of 7,000 guests. Some of the famous festivals you can be a part of include the Annual Santa Maria Valley Strawberry Festival, trade shows, and musical concerts. Most of the fun and notable events are organized during the summer months when one can even stay here (for a maximum of 30 days). The authorities have raised their own animals for the events, which are totally fun to watch.
7. Explore the Historic Santa Maria Inn
Historic Santa Maria Inn is a century-old hotel that was built in the year 1917. However, it isn’t just a hotel but a premium tourist attraction to visit when in Santa Maria. It is known for its photographic galleries, lush rose gardens, and fascinating history. Historic Santa Maria Inn is an award-winning hotel and can be reached within half an hour’s drive from the famous Pismo Beach and Riverbench Vineyard and Winery. It is also listed in the top 10 most haunted hotels in California, and there are multiple ghost stories and experiences going around the air. The walls of this hotel are filled with stories, some of which can get really creepy and frightening. You can either visit here just for a quick exploration or even plan a stay.
8. Explore the Mission La Purisima Historical Park
Located only half an hour drive away from Santa Maria, the Mission La Purisima Historical Park is famous for the Spanish mission, which was built in the 19th century (the year 1813). It comes under the California State Parks System and is completely restored for tourism purposes. A visit here feels like one has been back into the time as the historical Park is exactly unique from the places you see in the present world. The Park consists of churches, a blacksmith’s workshop, several heritage living quarters, a dynamic visitor’s center, and several shops. One can opt for both guided or self-guided tours and enjoy their time exploring this historical site.
9. Spend Some Time At The Avila Beach Pier
Avila Beach Pier is a scenic location near Santa Maria and can be reached within a quick 30 minutes drive. The pier measures 1,685 feet and is famous for afternoon and evening walks along with sunset scenes. During evening hours, when all the lights are lit, and the sky is all red, orange, and purple with the sunset effect, the pier is indeed one magnificent delight to watch. Avila Beach Pier undoubtedly looks straight out of a painting or movie and is one of the most beautiful sights to visit near Santa Maria. When here, you can also try your luck on fishing and catch a number of local fishes. Along with the pier, the Friday market, a fresh fish market, and some exclusive restaurants wait for your way.
10. Beat The Heat At The Paul Nelson Aquatic Center
When you are done with the scorching heat of Santa Maria, consider visiting the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center. The aquatic center offers its visitors one Olympic-sized swimming pool and a recreational pool that has waterslides and a fan-shaped zero-depth entryway. It is located inside the Abel Maldonado Youth Center, offering a range of attractions for visitors of all age groups. In case you aren’t interested in swimming you can also enjoy the fun and exciting water games.