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The Santa Barbara
Holiday Light Tour


Updated for 2018 on Dec 8, 2018.

Every year in December, there are marvelous displays of holiday lights in Santa Barbara, California. If you live there or if you happen to be visiting, you and your family can have a wonderful time driving around looking at the festive decorations — if you know where to look.

When you have some time on a December evening, the directions below will take you on an amazing tour of the Santa Barbara holiday lights. If you drive at a reasonably slow pace, the entire route will take you about an hour and a quarter.

If you only have time to visit one place, the most spectacular display is on 1209 E. Quinientos St on the east side of Santa Barbara, just past Soledad Street (map).

For your holiday pleasure, here are some extra special holiday Web pages you may enjoy:

Holidays and Celebrations (by Harley Hahn)

For information about Santa Barbara: places to stay, restaurants, activities, attractions, and so on:

SantaBarbara.com (by John Dickson)

Directions for the
Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour

The full Holiday Light Tour takes about one and a quarter hours if you drive slow. I recommend starting your tour between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

There are six parts to this tour:

• Part 1 runs through downtown Santa Barbara.
• Part 2 visits the West Side.
• Part 3 takes you over the Portesuello hills.
• Part 4 is to the west of Las Positas.
• Part 5 leads you to the Hitchcock area.
• Part 6 finishes by taking you to the East Side.

Hint: If you don't know your way around Santa Barbara, it is a good idea to take a GPS, a map, or a real estate agent with you, in case you accidentally stray from the route.

The beginning of the Holiday Light Tour: State and East Yanonali.

The tour starts heading north (away from the ocean) on State Street at EAST YANONALI, so we can begin with the wonderful lights on lower STATE STREET.

If you are not sure how to get to State and Yanonali, here are the directions:

• Take Highway 101 to the GARDEN STREET exit and turn towards the ocean. (From 101 South, turn right; from 101 North, turn left.)

• Drive one block south (towards the ocean) to EAST YANONALI STREET.

• Turn right, and drive five blocks to STATE STREET.

To start the tour, turn right (north) on STATE STREET, away from the ocean.

Part 1 of the Holiday Light Tour: Downtown Santa Barbara.
From State and East Yanonali:
Right State
To start, go under the bridge and enjoy the wonderful holiday lights downtown.
Continue on STATE STREET all the way through the downtown area.
When you pass ORTEGA STREET, drive slowly and look on the left as you approach the second entrance to Paseo Nuevo. You will see a large number of trees decorated with a lovely display of lights.
When you get to CARRILLO STREET, we will make a short detour away from STATE STREET to see the largest Holiday tree in Santa Barbara.
Note: At CARRILLO STREET, you will see a No Left Turn sign. However, you can make a left turn after 6:00 pm.
Left Carrillo
At the end of the first block, you will approach a stoplight at CHAPALA STREET. Look across the street to the right, and you will see the largest holiday tree in Santa Barbara.
Right Chapala
You will now return to STATE STREET to continue the downtown part of the tour. To do so, continue one block and turn right at the next stoplight, FIGUEROA STREET.
Right Figueroa
At the end of the block, at the stoplight, turn left to return to STATE STREET. (Again, you can make a left turn after 6:00 pm.)
Left State
Continue on STATE STREET until you pass VICTORIA. Look for the big Holiday Tree in the center of the street. (Just past the tree, the Arlington Theatre will be on your left.)
This is the point at which official City of Santa Barbara holiday light display ends. Continue on STATE two more blocks to MICHELTORENA.
Left Micheltorena
Continue straight on MICHELTORENA until you get to the bridge. Cross the bridge.
Part 2 of the Holiday Light Tour: Santa Barbara West Side.
After you cross the Micheltorena bridge, you will come to a stoplight at SAN ANDRES STREET. You are now on the West Side. Drive straight on MICHELTORENA through the stoplight.
Continue Micheltorena
Drive slowly, looking at the lights, until you get to MOUNTAIN AVENUE.
Right Mountain Avenue
Left Valerio Street
Right Clearview Road
At the stop sign, turn right on MANITOU ROAD.
Right Manitou Road
In a few seconds, as you go down the hill, MANITOU will turn into PEDREGOSA STREET.
Continue Pedregosa Street
Left Mountain Avenue
Part 3 of the Holiday Light Tour: The Portesuello Hills.
Continue to the end of MOUNTAIN, driving uphill through several slow curves, until you see a stop sign at a T-intersection.
Left Portesuello
Drive up the steep curving hill and continue on PORTESUELLO for a few minutes. Look for CRESTLINE on your left. It comes after BEL AIR.
Left Crestline
Right Rialto
Go down the hill and, as you approach the bottom, look up above the bottom house. In the distance, there is a high ridge. At the top, you will see a beautiful line of brightly lit palm trees. You will see these palm trees from several other places on the tour.
At the end of the street, make a U-Turn.
U-Turn Riato
Left Crestline
As you get to PORTESUELLO, slow down to look at two wonderful displays: one on your left as you approach Portesuello, the other on the right, across the street. You may want to park your car near the intersection and look at these two displays up close.
To continue, drive straight on CRESTLINE through PORTESUELLO.
As you are driving down CRESTLINE, you will see, on your left, a house with a very large entrance in the shape of an arch. Notice the large chandelier hanging under the top of the arch.
Crestline will now curve to the right. At the end of the street, make a U-Turn.
U-Turn Crestline
Left Sonora
Right Portesuello
Continue until you get to a hill. Go down the hill to the stoplight at LAS POSITAS Road. Go straight and cross LAS POSITAS. Continue until you see VERONICA SPRINGS, which will be the first street on your right.
Part 4 of the Holiday Light Tour: West of Las Positas.
As you cross Las Positas and continue onto VERONICA SPRINGS, drive slowly as the road curves to the right.
On the left, you will see the Hillside House, a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities. They have a large, very beautiful display on their grounds. Turn left to follow a small loop in and out of the complex. As you go round the loop (counter-clockwise), please be sure to drive slowly and carefully.
Left Hillside House loop
As you exit the property, turn left to return to VERONICA SPRINGS. The immediately turn right onto a small street called VERONICA PLACE.
Left Veronica Springs
Right Veronica Place
This short street is one of the highlights of the tour, so take your time.
At the end of the street, make a U-Turn.
U-Turn Veronica Place
Left Veronica Springs
In a few seconds, you will be back at the stoplight at LOS POSITAS.
Left Las Positas
Drive slow and look for the first left around the gentle curve onto LAS POSITAS PLACE. Look carefully, so you don't miss the turn to the left.
As you make the turn, look up in the distance and you will, once again, see the long line of brightly lit palm trees on top of the distant hill.
Left Las Positas Place
At the end of the street, make a U-Turn.
U-Turn Las Positas Place
Be careful making the left turn onto Los Positas.
Left Las Positas
Drive to the Hitchcock Area.
To get to Part 5 of the Holiday Light Tour, you will take a short drive down Calle Real to the Hitchcock Area.
Continue Las Positas
Continue north on LAS POSITAS, through the stoplight at MODOC ROAD to the next stoplight at CALLE REAL. At the CALLE REAL stoplight, look to your left and you will see the fairgrounds and the entrance to Highway 101 North. This is where you turn left.
Left Calle Real
As you make the turn, get in the right lane and drive through the first stoplight. Continue (west) on CALLE REAL for a minute or so, until you come to a second stoplight at HITCHCOCK WAY.
Right Hitchcock
Continue until you see the YMCA on your left. At that point, look on your right for MONTEREY PINE STREET.
Right Monterey Pine
Drive a short distance until the street begins to curve to the left. At this point, park your car and look straight ahead. You will see a row of five cottages glowing in a dazzling display of lights. Take a moment to get out of the car and walk closer to appreciate the complexity and the beauty of the display.
This display — consisting of more than 5,000 lights — was a collaborative effort led by Michael Williams. If you are lucky, you and your kids will see Mike standing out front dressed as Santa Claus.
When you are ready to move on, do a U-turn and go back the way you came.
U-Turn Monterey Pine
Left Hitchcock
Left Calle Real
Continue until you get to the stoplight at Las Positas. At this point, the fairgrounds will be on your left.
You are now at the end of Part 5 of the Holiday Lights tour. Although Part 6 is short, it ends at a spectacular display of lights, so don't skip it. It won't take you long to get there.
Drive to the East Side.
To get to Part 6 of the Holiday Light Tour, you will take a short drive on Highway 101 South to the East Side.
Turn right on Las Positas into the left-hand lane. Look for the entrance to Highway 101 South. Take 101 South to the East Side.
Right Las Positas
Left Highway 101 South
Right Exit 96A, Milpas Street North
Slow down as you exit the freeway. There is a very sharp curve. As you come out of the exit, get into the right lane. Continue all the way to the stoplight and turn right on MILPAS.
Right Milpas
Drive under the bridge and onto the roundabout. Within the roundabout, take the first right-hand turn onto CARPINTERIA. (Watch carefully: it comes up fast.)
Part 6 of the Holiday Light Tour: Santa Barbara East Side
Right Carpinteria
Left Voluntario
After you turn onto Voluntario, look for the house with a lot of lights halfway down the block on your right.
Right Quinientos
When you get to Soledad Street, park your car. Get out and look on your left for 1209 East Quinientos across the street. You can't miss it. There is a marvelous display of colorful lights, unlike anything you have ever seen.
Take a few minutes to look around The Miracle on East Quinientos Street, the home of Peter Estrada. Peter is the preeminent holiday light artist in Santa Barbara; he has been decorating his house this way since 1992. As Peter explained to me, "I do for all the kids, as well as the many older, retired people who live in the area."
While you are there, be sure to explore the short path that actually lets you walk inside the display.
If you want a preview, use the link below to look inside Peter Estrada's wonderful world of holiday lights:
The Miracle on East Quinientos Street (video by John Dickson)
End of Holiday Light Tour: Las Positas Lane and Las Positas
You are now at the end of the Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour. To leave the neighborhood, continue on QUINIENTOS to SOUTH CAÑADA STREET.
Continue Quinientos
Right Cañada
Right Carpinteria
To return to Highway 101, continue west on Carpinteria to Milpas. At Milpas, turn right to enter the roundabout.
101 North: Look for the sign on your right on the other side of the roundabout.
101 South: Go all the way around the roundabout and drive under the bridge. Continue south on Milpas (towards the ocean). Look for the sign for 101 South on your left.

Note from Harley

You will notice that, above, I have spelled the street name "Cañada" with a tilde. Although Google maps, Zillow, and the City of Santa Barbara Web site use a regular "n", they are all wrong. (I have checked this with the historical records.)

In Spanish, a cañada is a ravine or glen and, indeed, this street is built over a ravine.

In English, Canada is the name of a country where people use snow for money.

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