The sophisticated yet laid-back city of Santa Barbara, just two hours up the coast from Los Angeles, has long been a favorite GLBT vacation spot, thanks to its stunning location on the ocean (nestled beneath some of the most majestic mountains in coastal California), fine restaurants and upscale shopping, distinctive Spanish Colonial architecture, and acclaimed Wine Country. The city has a sizable gay population, if not much in the way of gay nightlife (mainstream bars in town have a following, notably downtown's Wildcat Lounge, which is especially GLBT popular on Sundays (and is the host of the Pride Closing Party as well as a major sponsor of Gay Pride). The city does host the increasingly popular Santa Barbara Gay Pride Festival, known officially as the Pacific Pride Festival, which is held August 27, 2016, after having taken place in July in recent years.
Check out the Santa Barbara Gay Nightlife and Gay-Friendly Dining Guide for tips on where to eat and play during Pride Weekend, and the Santa Barbara Gay Hotels and Resorts Guide for advice on where to stay.
Note that a few weeks before Santa Barbara Gay Pride, in July, the city of San Luis Obispo - which is a scenic 80-mile drive north - hosts the Central Coast Gay Pride on the Plaza. If you're headed up this way, also have a look at the San Luis Obispo Gay Guide, which has advice on everything from area wine-touring to visiting Hearst Castle.
Santa Barbara Gay Pride, which is free, will take place at a new venue this year, Chase Palm Park, along the waterfront. The festival takes place on Saturday, August 27, from 11:30 am until 7 pm, and will feature a number of notable performers, including RuPaul's Drag Race stars Yara Sofia and India Ferrah.
There are quite a few fun events and parties taking place during the days leading up to Pride this year, including a Girl Party on August 20 at Telegraph Brewing, a special Pride version of the monthly LGBT Sunset mixer on August 24 at the fabulous Canary Hotel (a definite hot spot if you're looking for a place to stay during Pride), a dine out event at Globe Restaurant, a Pride reception on Friday, August 26 at Bobcat Lounge, and a Sunday Drag Revue at SoHo Restaurant and Music Club. Also, following the Pride Festival on Saturday, August 27, there's an after party at Tonic Night Club, and on Sunday, there's a closing Pride Party at Wildcat Lounge. For a full list of events, check out the Pacific Pride Festival official schedule.
Santa Barbara Gay Resources
Additionally, plenty of gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops will have a notable gay presence this weekend and the days leading up. Check local resources, such Pride's organizer, the Pacific Pride Foundation, and the city's hip alternative newsweekly, the Santa Barbara Independent, and be sure to have a look at this extensive gay guide to Santa Barbara and the Wine Country. Also take a look at the excellent travel site produced by the city's official tourism organization, the Santa Barbara CVB.