Cabrillo Blvd at State Street http://www.stearnswharf.org/
Stearns Wharf is an important part of Santa
Barbara's character and history. It is
located at the bottom of State Street and our
historic three dolphin fountain marks its
View of Santa Barbara Harbor and the
shops on Stearns Wharf
the ripe old age of 130 years old, Stearns
Wharf is still built primarily of wood and has
weathered wars, fires, earthquakes. It
has seen the harbor transform from a bustling
port for cargo and passenger ships to a home
for pleasure boats, a fishing fleet and whale
Wharf was built in 1872 to serve cargo and
passenger ships. In the 1930s, gamblers
boarded floating casinos at the pier, and
during World War II it was turned into a naval
installation. Now, the wharf has shops and
restaurants and is visited by 5 million
people a year, making it one of Santa
Barbara's largest tourist attractions.
allow us to share with you the history, the
charm and the activities that make this
important landmark so much part of Santa
a short stroll out over the Pacific Ocean
and savor the sensory experiences of
California's oldest working wharf. Enjoy the
fresh ocean breeze while watching local
fishing boats off-load their morning catches.
Touch marine life in a special aquarium. Step
aboard the Harbor Queen for a narrated whale watching
cruise. Taste wines and indulge in cuisines
from fast-food to fanciful. Delight in a
wealth of colorful shopping amidst commanding,
panoramic views of the mountains and the
We are proud of the eclectic mix of unique restaurants, interesting activities, and quality merchants on Stearns Wharf. Find out more of what we have to offer by visiting the individual businesses below.
We cordially invite you to come walk our
soak in the fun!
1872 construction was completed on what had
just become the longest deep-water pier
between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Named
for its builder, local lumberman John P.
Stearns, the wharf served the passenger and
freight shipping needs of California's South
Coast for over a quarter century.
access to the wharf from Highway 101.
When the railroad finally reached Santa
Barbara in 1877, Stearns added an additional
spur to the wharf, providing a necessary
transport link to his lumberyard and the
nearby Southern Pacific Depot. The spur was
damaged by severe storms in the early 1900's
and was ultimately abandoned in 1923. A
raiload logging car remains on the spur as a
legacy of the times.
The Harbor Restaurant was built on the wharf
in 1941, marking an end to the shipping and
transportation era of the 1800's. The
restaurant proved to be the economic backbone
of the wharf.
Since its beginning, Stearns Wharf has had its
share of natural and economic disasters, from
the big earthquake in 1925 to a fire in 1973
which caused its closing. The wharf stayed
closed for six years until restorations began,
and in the fall of 1981 it finally reopened.
Yet another fire in the winter of 1998
devastated the last hundred and fifty feet of
the wharf, including Moby Dick Restaurant.
Though the rest of the wharf remained open
during this period, the rebuilding took over
two years. The new Stearns Wharf stands today
as Santa Barbara's most visited landmark.
parking is available in several lots along the
waterfront on Cabrillo Blvd. Except during
special events such as the 4th of July when
access to the wharf is limited to pedestrians
only, there is 90 minute free parking
with merchant validation on the wharf itself.
Valet parking is available courtesy of the