Holiday Light Tour Route

Holiday Light Tour Route title=
Holiday Light Tour Route
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(Photo: Tim Mossholder / Pexels)

By Harley Hahn

Every year in December, there are wonderful displays of holiday lights in Santa Barbara, California. If you live there or if you happen to be visiting, you 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 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).

The full Holiday Light Tour takes about one hour if you drive slow. We 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 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.

Part 1 of the Holiday Light Tour: Downtown Santa Barbara.
From State and East Yanonali:
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 COTA STREET, drive slowly and look on the left to see the lovely display of lights at Paseo Nuevo.
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.
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.
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.
In one block, at the stoplight, turn left to return to STATE STREET.
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.
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.
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.
Drive slowly, looking at the lights, until you get to MOUNTAIN AVENUE.

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