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The Santa Barbara
Holiday Light Tour

The free Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour was originally published on Sunday December 6, 2009. Since then, I have updated it every year at the beginning of December.

•  Updated for 2020 on Monday, December 7
•  Further updates were added on Saturday, December 12

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.

If you are short of time: If you only have time to visit one place, visit the area near Las Positas Road and Veronica Springs Road, where you will see two spectacular displays: on Veronica Springs Lane, and in front of Hillside House (map).

If you want to visit with Santa: During the month of December, you can stop and visit with Santa Claus in person, every Saturday and Sunday evening from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. (Of course, because of the quarantine, Santa will be wearing a face shield and a mask.) Santa will be in front of an elaborate display in the Hitchcock area at 3729 Monterey Pines, Santa Barbara 93105 (map).

Note: These two areas are part of the tour, so if you follow the directions below you will see both of them (and a lot more).

Before you start, print a copy of this page
to take with you in the car.

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... (by John Dickson)

Directions for the
Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour

The full Holiday Light Tour takes about 1 hour if you drive slow. I recommend starting your tour between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm.

There are five 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 finishes by taking you to the Hitchcock area.

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.

An addition to these five areas, there is a small street in Goleta that has an usually delightful display of lights and decorations. It is a bit far away to be part of the Santa Barbara tour, so I have included it as a bonus, in case you have some extra time.

• Part 6 (bonus) takes you to Puente Plaza in Goleta (map).

The beginning of the Holiday Light Tour: State and Carrillo.

The tour starts heading east (towards the mountains) on CARRILLO STREET at STATE STREET, so we can begin with the wonderful lights in downtown Santa Barbara.

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

• Take Highway 101 to the CARRILLO STREET exit and turn east (away from towards the ocean). From 101 South, take Exit 98 and turn left; from 101 North take Exit 98A and turn right.

• Drive five blocks east (towards downtown) to the stoplight at CHAPALA STREET.

You are now ready to start the tour.

Part 1 of the Holiday Light Tour: Downtown Santa Barbara.
On Carrillo heading towards downtown...
As you approach the stoplight at Carrillo and Chapala, slow down and take a moment to look to your left. In front of the Ralph's parking lot, you will see the largest holiday tree in Santa Barbara.
Continue through the stoplight, into the intersection of Carrillo and State.
Continue Carrillo
If there is no one behind you, stop. You are now in the middle of the Santa Barbara Promenade, a pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara. Because this part of State Street is closed to traffic, you can slow down or (if there are no cars behind you) even stop in the intersection. Take some time to look to both the left and right, and you will see magnificent lights and decorations.
Continue through the intersection and drive two blocks to SANTA BARBARA STREET where you will turn left.
Continue Carrillo
Left Santa Barbara
Continue north on SANTA BARBARA STREET one block and then turn left onto FIGUEROA STREET.
Continue Santa Barbara
Left Figueroa
Drive two blocks until you, once again, find yourself in the middle of the Santa Barbara Promenade.
Once again, slow down or stop, and take a few moments to look to the left and the right. This time, you are facing the opposite direction so the lights on State Street will look different.
After you drive through the intersection, continue three more blocks.
Continue Figueroa
Turn right (north) on BATH STREET.
Right Bath
In two blocks, Turn right on W. VICTORIA STREET.
Right Victoria
Drive two blocks to Chapala street where, in a moment, you will turn left. However, before you get to the intersection, slow down and look to your left. On the northwest corner of Victoria and Chapala, you will see a very large lit-up tree.
Once you have seen the big tree, make your left turn onto CHAPALA STREET.
Left Chapala
Continue two blocks, then turn left onto W MICHELTORENA STREET.
Continue Chapala
Left Micheltorena
As you pass DE LA VINA, slow down to admire the very old house with many lights across the street on your left.
Continue straight on MICHELTORENA until you get to the bridge. Cross the bridge.
Continue Micheltorena 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 for five blocks, looking at the lights, until you get to MOUNTAIN AVENUE.
Right Mountain Avenue
When you reach a stop sign, turn left.
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. Bear right as the street curves gently.
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 one block 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. This is one of the highlights of the whole tour, so 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.
Right Sonora
Right Portesuello
Continue until you get to the top of a hill. Go down the hill to the stoplight at LAS POSITAS Road. Go straight through the stoplight and cross LAS POSITAS. Continue until you see VERONICA SPRINGS, which will be the first street on your right. (It comes up quickly.)
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.
After a short block, turn right onto a small street called VERONICA PLACE.
Note: If you look to your left, you will see a large property with a lot of lights and attractive displays. Leave it for now. We will visit it in a few minutes after you explore Veronica Place.
Right Veronica Place
Veronica Place is a very short street that ends in a cul-de-sac. Although Veronica Place has only 15 houses, 13 of them have large, attractive displays, making this the most delightful holiday street in all of Santa Barbara.
You are now visiting the highlight of the tour, so take your time. Drive slowly, and when you reach the end of the street, make a U-Turn.
U-Turn Veronica Place
When you reach the exit of Veronica Place, stop and look straight ahead. Across the street, you will see the Hillside House, a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities. As you can see, they have a large, very beautiful display on their grounds.
Drive straight across the street and enter the complex. As you enter, be sure to TURN RIGHT to follow a one-way loop around the display area.
Important: You must go round the loop counter-clockwise.
Right Hillside House loop
As you go around the loop, please drive slowly and carefully. If you want, once you are at the far end of the loop you can park your car and walk around the displays.
At the end of the Hillside House loop, as you exit the property, turn right on VERONICA SPRINGS.
Right Veronica Springs
In a few seconds, you will be back at the stoplight at LOS POSITAS, where you will turn left.
Left Las Positas
At this point, you must pay attention and drive slowly. When you get to a gentle curve, turn at the first left onto LAS POSITAS PLACE. Look carefully or you will miss the turn to the left.
Important: Be especially careful making the left turn onto Los Positas Place. If there are a lot of cars, be patient.
Left Las Positas Place
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.
At the end of the street, make a U-Turn.
U-Turn Las Positas Place
Again, be especially careful. As you make the left turn back onto Los Positas, if there are a lot of cars, be patient.
Left Las Positas
Part 5 of the Holiday Light Tour: 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 (map).
Continue Las Positas
Continue north on LAS POSITAS, through the stoplight at MODOC ROAD. As you drive over the freeway, get into the left lane as you will soon turn left. At the next stoplight, CALLE REAL, look to your left and you will see the fairgrounds and the entrance to Highway 101 North. This is where you turn.
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 past the car dealerships, the movie theatre, and the Natural Cafe restaurant. Slow down and look for the YMCA (a large grayish building with no sign) 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 is a collaborative effort led by Michael Williams. (Mike's cottage alone has more than 5,000 lights.)
If it happens to be a Saturday and Sunday evening in December from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm, you are in luck. You and your kids will see Santa Claus standing out front. He will be wearing a face shield and a mask, so it is safe to talk with him.
As a special treat, Santa will have some custom-made coins to hand out to children. They are plastic, so it's easy to sanitize them. (The coins, not the children.)
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 and you are near the entrances to Highway 101 North and South.
You are now at the end of the Santa Barbara Holiday Light Tour.
Part 6 of the Holiday Light Tour (bonus): Puente Plaza in Goleta.
You have now completed the entire Santa Barbara Holiday Lights Tour. However, there is a display in Goleta that is worth seeing if you are heading back towards Goleta, or if you have some extra time and you want to see another outstanding holiday light display (after all, they are hard to find).
To visit this display we will take 101 North to Goleta and drive to a tiny U-shaped street named Puente Plaza. (Note: That's the actual name of the street; it's not a real plaza.)
Here are the driving directions (map). Start by entering HIGHWAY 101 NORTH. You will then drive 4 miles to the TURNPIKE EXIT (#103).
Enter Highway 101 North
Continue Highway 101
Right Exit 103, Turnpike Road
As you slow down on the exit road, move into the left lane. You will be making a left turn onto S. TURNPIKE RD at the stoplight.
Left Turnpike
Turn left on HOLLISTER AVENUE. Continue to the stoplight at PUENTE DRIVE and turn right.
Left Hollister
Right Puente
Drive one long block on PUENTE DRIVE and turn right on a small U-shaped street named PUENTE PLAZA.
Right Puente Plaza
Drive to the end of the street where it curves to the left (it won't take long) and park your car. Take as long as you want to admire all the decorations and lights.
PUENTE PLAZA is in the shape of a U, so when you are ready to leave simply keep driving in the same direction. The street will curve to the left and take you back to PUENTE DRIVE.
Continue Puente Plaza
Left Puente
To return to the freeway:
Left Hollister
Right Turnpike
Continue to Highway 101.

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