Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Santa Maria, CA

  • Published 2023/03/15

Santa Maria is located close to the Central Coast region of California.

Santa Maria is the largest city in Santa Barbara County.

This scenic city is famous for its wineries and barbecue.

Santa Maria’s proximity to the coast gives it a cool climate and a refreshing ocean breeze.

The sunny climate in Santa Maria is conducive to outdoor activities.

The city experiences fog but snowfall is rare.

Santa Maria is dotted with vineyards and wineries.

There are plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions in Santa Maria.

This city offers plenty of wine trails. There is a wine trolley on weekends that offers a tour of wineries and food destinations in this area.

This city is a perfect holiday destination for people of all age groups.

We list 20 activities which you can enjoy on your trip to this beautiful city.

Los Flores Ranch Park

Los Flores Ranch Park is the perfect place for nature lovers and families with children.

This 1778 acre huge park in Santa Maira Valley gives you unparalleled contact with nature.

There are hiking trails, horseback riding, mountain biking, animal feeding, and wildlife viewing activities in this park.

You can enjoy guided tours and group nature walks which give you more information about the flora and fauna.

Children under fifteen years of age get free entry while there is a small entry fee for adults.

You can also notice a variety of birds flying in the skies.

You will get a good workout for your body along with sightseeing.

The park gives you a lot of information about nature and wildlife conservation.

Presqu’ile Winery

If all the hiking has left you hungry then head to Presqu’ile Winery.

This picturesque vineyard is located on a hill. This modern winery has a V-shaped roof line.

You can enjoy stunning ocean views from this vineyard.

Guests can undertake horseback tours of the vineyard.

They can sample some delightful and new wines.

The wine is paired with food prepared by chefs with select ingredients grown at the estate garden.

There are picnic packages for small groups.

The visit to this winery is a blissful experience with great food, wine, and a charming ambiance.

Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum

This place is a must-visit for people with young kids.

Children can enjoy many things from planting seeds, walking piano to climbing rock walls.

Kids can also experience things like the space shuttle, agricultural trucks, sunken ships, fire stations, and workings of a stormwater drain.

Children will want to visit this place again and again.

Pacific Conservatory Theatre

This theater is situated in the center of Santa Maria and is popularly known as PCPA.

This theater has a history of more than fifty years.

A musical play at this wonderful theater is an experience you will cherish for a lifetime.

This theater plays an important role in enhancing culture and art in Santa Maria.

You can enjoy high quality performances in a comfortable setting in this theater.

Santa Maria Museum of Flight

This Museum has something for everyone. It carries a wealth of information on the different types of aircraft and aviation history.

This museum also highlights the regions’ role in the aviation history.

You can take a close look at various models of airplanes and a few space flight engines.

Children love the airplane modeling event which gives them an opportunity to build their own aircraft.

The adults can pick up mementos for their friends and relatives back home.

They also hold airshows which throw light over the life of martyrs. Some movies were shot here.

The staff is very helpful and friendly with children.

Riverbench Vineyard and Winery

This vineyard is an ideal picnic spot for one of those wine country picnics with family.

There is a huge garden which houses a bocce ball court and horseshoe pit.

This is a boutique winery with an exclusive portfolio of still and sparkling wines.

Their outdoor wine tasting experience allows you to sample some of the finest wines at your private table set amidst the mountains.

You can finish your trip with a leisurely vineyard walk.

The staff will give you all the information you need about the wines.

Foxen Canyon Wine Trail

This trail is for wine connoisseurs. You walk through the picturesque hills and along the way you come across different wineries.

This thirty-mile trail begins at Los Olivos and ends at Santa Maria.

Firestone Vineyard, Rancho Sisquoc Winery, Andrew Murray Vineyards, and Kenneth Volk Vineyards are part of the 14 wineries in this trail.

Some wineries in this trail are large and the others are small.

If you conduct proper research you will be able to taste some excellent wines.

The winding roads among the rolling hills take you through breathtaking landscape which is sure to leave an imprint on your mind.

Santa Maria Library

People of all age groups will find a visit to the Santa Maria library interesting.

This medium-sized library has a separate children’s section.

They also host special events. You will find audiobooks and computer stations over here.

If you are tired from all the walking around in Santa Maria you can sit here and enjoy a good book.

You can also take a close look at a sewing machine, camera, and telescope.

There is a café to satisfy your hunger pangs. You can get great deals on used books.

You can also pick up some puppets as gifts for your child.

This spacious library has comfortable seating and friendly staff.

You can enjoy a good book while your children play with computers.

This library has many programs for children and teenagers.

Santa Maria Valley Historical Society

You can learn all about the detailed history of Santa Maria in this Museum which allows free entry for all.

You can learn all about the ancient civilizations which impacted Santa Maria.

This museum also pays tribute to the people who were responsible for the growth of this city.

On display are photographs, memorabilia, and artifacts detailing the rich history of Santa Maria.

There is an entire room dedicated to entrepreneur G.Allan Hancock.

To make things easier for first-time visitors the exhibits are displayed in chronological order.

This museum has more than 30,000 photographs which tell the story of Santa Maria’s history and evolution over the decades.

Santa Maria Fairpark

The Santa Maria Fairpark will give you a taste of the real countryside.

There is a flea market on Fridays and Sundays where you can enjoy fresh local produce at affordable prices.

Fairs and events are held here regularly. If you are tired of visiting slick and sophisticated malls and you would like to experience a countryside fair then you must visit this place.

The events are listed on the website in advance. You can plan your visit to coincide with your favorite event.

During the summer months several concerts, events, celebrations, conventions, and trade shows are held in this Fairpark.

The events are usually focused on commerce, agriculture, aerospace, and tourism.

Central Coast Sports Arena

This is a great venue for sports lovers and people who love to skate.

The staff is helpful for beginner level skaters.

There are lots of events like youth hockey, adult hockey, and roller derby.

They also have public skating competitions where the visitors can rent skates, play games and win prizes.

They have a roller skating rink where you can enjoy skating on payment of admission fees and skate rentals.

If you are lucky you could catch the roller derby league featuring all-women teams.

The Swiss Restaurant

The Swiss Restaurant established in the 40s is among the most famous restaurants in Santa Maria. Prime Rib is their House Speciality.

Their menu includes delicious chops, steaks, seafood, ribs, and chicken.

They also have an array of delectable desserts and flavorsome cocktails.

You can look forward to an evening of great food and good service.

The dishes are cooked in traditional Santa Maria-style Oak Barbecue.

Pismo Beach Pier

Pismo Beach Pier

Gabriele Maltinti /

A short drive from Santa Maria will take you to Pismo Beach Pier.

You can spend a quiet evening on the pier watching the sunset.

The Pier gives you an uninhibited view of the coastline.

You can sunbath in the beach or search for sea shells on lazy evening.

Picnic tables on Pismo Beach Pier

HannaTor /

This beach is spotless and well-lit. There are food vendors and cafés all around.

There is a farmers market every Wednesday.

This beach will give you some nice pictures. The sturdy piers are laid out onto the ocean.

A walk on the pier will give you a feeling of walking on water.

People on the Pismo Beach Pier

HannaTor /

Deja Vu Antiques Mall

This mall is the mecca of shopping enthusiasts. This mall houses more than 35 antique dealers under a single roof.

These dealers pick up their stuff from across the United States.

You can pick up furniture, gifts, textiles and jewelry.

The dealers display their products in a loading dock structure which was constructed in the year 1906.

Each dealer has a personalized store. Shopping here is an experience very different from those stylish malls.

There are many events held at the loading dock throughout the year.

The visit to this mall will leave you with lots of gifts for your family and friends.

Waller Country Park

This park is a favorite with locals. The park offers free entry for visitors.

This park is situated at the south end of Santa Maria.

The park houses two lovely lakes with fountains. The grassy lawn stretches across 154 acres.

There are playgrounds, picnic areas and separate volleyball and basketball courts. A Frisbee disc golf course is an added attraction.

There are activities like bike trails, hiking trials, and bird watching.

This park also has restrooms, picnic tables and benches for the convenience of visitors.

Santa Maria Raceway

You can enjoy some thrilling races in this Raceway.

There are a variety of car and bike racing events held in this Raceway.

There are various special events and holiday-related races held in this raceway regularly.

Mission La Purisima Historical Park

Exterior of Mission La Purisima Historical Park

Jsweida, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A half an hour drive from Santa Maria will take you to Mission La Purisima Historical Park.

The mission was built in 1813. It has now been restored for the convenience of visitors.

The original buildings have antique furniture, shops, heritage living spaces, churches and a blacksmith’s workshop.

This place also has self-guided tours and gift shops.

A building at Mission La Purisima Historical Park

Bill Morson /

Visitors can also get a first-hand experience of mission life in the 1820s.

This routine is recreated on certain days. This place gives you a chance to explore California’s heritage.

The Visitor Center has exhibits that narrate the mission story from a multicultural point of view.

A hallway at Mission La Purisima Historical Park

Steve Heap /

Paul Nelson Aquatic Center

As the name suggests this facility is for people who like to dip into the pool.

This Center has a huge Olympic sized pool. Visitors can use the recreational pool with a fan-shaped zero-depth entryway.

There are waterslides for both children and adults.

Spend a Day at Rotary Centennial Park

If you want to spend a laid-back day in Santa Maria, Rotary Centennial Park is one of your go-to places to visit.

It’s a family-oriented park that features a lot of amenities, most prominently its basketball courts and baseball fields.

If you’re visiting during the late afternoon, there are plenty of picnic grounds and barbecue equipment here as well for a family picnic.

There’s a couple of walking trails as well, along with huge open fields for kite-flying.

One of the best open spaces in Santa Maria, find Rotary Centennial Park along South College Drive.

Play a Round of Golf at Rancho Maria Golf Course

If you’re in the mood for golf, Santa Maria’s Rancho Maria Golf Course is a great addition to your itinerary.

It’s a scenic golf course that has excellent fairways and decent hazards, adding challenge to even seasoned players.

Rancho Maria Golf Course doesn’t require any memberships, and the staff here are friendly and competent.

It’s also a huge golf course, so you can easily spend a whole day here playing with friends or family.

Rancho Maria Golf Course is located along California Highway 1, so it’s easy to access.

Grill Tons of Meat at SizzlinGogi

SizzlinGogi is your classic Korean barbecue experience, offering a wide selection of Korean beef and pork cuts that you grill on your tabletop.

Because of this business model, SizzlinGogi ensures that each customer gets attended to by competent waiters, making it a seamless grilling experience.

SizzlinGogi also has amazing ambiance, complete with lively music that makes this a nice hangout spot with friends.

Don’t miss out on their buffet promo if you’re feeling famished, as it’s truly bang for buck.

You can find this iconic Korean barbecue restaurant along South Broadway.

Taste Authentic Mexican Cuisine at La Picosita Restaurant

If Mexican delights are what you’re looking for, look no further than La Picosita Restaurant.

One of the culinary institutions in Santa Maria, this restaurant offers hearty plates of all things Mexican, making it one of the most loved dining establishments in the city.

They have an abundance of meats here, including fresh seafood like shrimp.

However, what you can’t afford to miss are their carne asada and beef tongue burrito, also called lengua.

La Picosita Restaurant can be found along North Broadway.

Go Bowling at Rancho Bowl

If you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends, Rancho Bowl is one of the best evening destinations in Santa Maria.

Spacious and modern, you’ll have an awesome experience filled with tons of fun at Rancho Bowl.

They have a vibrant atmosphere and are often packed with both locals and tourists, giving this place a festive vibe.

They’re the complete package too—they have food and drinks available along with cool bartenders and DJs as well.

Rancho Bowl is located along East Donovan Road.

Final Thoughts

When traveling to Santa Barbara, Santa Maria is a can’t-miss destination as it embodies the beauty and fun of the county.

From wineries to outdoor recreational fun, there are so many things to do in this city that makes it one of the most well-rounded in California.

It has a little bit of everything for everybody, as the place also has tons of scenic destinations, museums, restaurants, and entertainment centers.

Don’t miss out on the best things to do in Santa Maria, California.

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