Tag: Information

STEARNS WHARF 150TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION October 8th

To celebrate the 150th birthday of Stearns Wharf, a grand birthday bash is planned for Saturday, October 8 from 11:00 am to 7:15pm.

This iconic structure, which has served as Santa Barbara’s front door, the birthplace of an industry, and the community’s plank park, will be honored by cannon battles with a tall ship, an Opera performance, live music by Tequila Mockingbird and they Double Wide Kings, Santa Barbara’s Yacht Club Parade of Fleet, Clam Chowder tastings by all the restaurants, a little history, fireworks, and a lot of fun.

In addition to the recreation, restaurants, and shops on the wharf, the day’s events include:

All Day                                                   Pianos on Stearns Wharf (Starting October 4th thru October 23rd )

10:15 AM – 4:15 PM                           Free rides for children 12 and under, Little Toot

11:00 AM – 11:30, & 12:00 PM        Tall Ship Mystic Whaler and Cannon fire

11:00 AM – 4:00 PM                           Scavenger hunt

11:00 AM – 4:00 PM                           Face painting

11:00 AM – 11:45 PM                         Free concert: Opera Santa Barbara – selection of crowd favorites

12:00 – 4:00 PM                                  Chowder tasting

1:00 PM                                                 Yacht Club Parade of Fleet

2:00 – 3:30 PM                                     Free concert: Tequila Mockingbird

4:30 – 7:00 PM                                     Free concert: Double Wide Kings

5:30 – 6:30 PM                                     Celebratory Convocation

7:00 PM                                                 Fireworks

For the details for the day’s events check the Wharfs website: https://stearnswharf.org/stearns-wharf-to-celebrate-150th-anniversary/

All activities are free and open to the public thanks in part to generous sponsors: Visit Santa Barbara, Jordanos , Montecito Bank and Trust, and the Condor Express.

ATTACHED PHOTOS (above):              Historical photos credit: Edson Smith Photo Collection

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The Stearns Wharf Merchants Association represents the merchants and business owners on Stearns Wharf. Stearns Wharf is located at the end of State Street between East Beach and the Santa Barbara Harbor. For more information, visit www.stearnswharf.org

150th Anniversary Fireworks

Fireworks
Fireworks over Stearns Wharf
Vintage Boating of off Stearns Wharf

The day’s events will be capped off at 7pm with a brief but spectacular fireworks display which will include a special nod to the momentous occasion.

Similar to July 4th, the fireworks will be fired from West Beach.

Back to the 150th Anniversary page

Celebratory Convocation

Double Wide Kings Wharf early horse cart

The highlight of the daylong anniversary festivities on the wharf will be a Celebratory Convocation. In the afternoon, live music by the popular local band Doublewide Kings will set the stage.  At 5:30, elected officials, business and civic leaders will gather to formally mark the great occasion. Renowned local historian Neal Graffy will regale you with fun and astonishing stories of Stearns Wharf’s colorful history; proclamations will be read; the wharf’s cannon will thunder in tribute; and there will be birthday cake and a toast to mark the great day. And the day will end with fireworks in the harbor, befitting one of our community’s beloved historical treasure.

Back to the 150th Anniversary page

Saturday, October 8th Stearns Wharf to Celebrate 150th Anniversary

John Peck Stearns

Stearns Wharf is more than a nice place to watch boats or fish, it’s a structure that changed the face of Santa Barbara-literally. 150 years ago, Santa Barbara, being surrounded by mountains, was an isolated pueblo. There were no roads into town, there was no railroad. When John Peck Stearns built the wharf in 1872 he not only opened the door to large-scale commerce and trade; he introduced Santa Barbara to the rest of the world.

Since that time, Stearns Wharf has evolved along with the city. It was a vital conduit for a growing fishing fleet. It was the birthplace of commercial diving. It served as a focal point to bring the community together. Over the years, Stearns Wharf has been battered by storms, scorched by fires, even damaged by a water spout, but through it all, it has persevered because it offers something no other place in town can match-perspective.

In honor of this 150th anniversary, Stearns Wharf merchants will hold a 150th Anniversary Celebration on October 8th, 2022.

There will be anniversary specials, live music, a bit of history and lots of fun, family-friendly activities. The Wharf offers many attractions during your visit:

For an updated Schedule of Events for Saturday, October 8th, visit Stearns Wharf Celebrates 150th Anniversary including…

  • Live music
  • Library on the Go outreach van
  • Festive treats including ice cream, sherbet, candy, popcorn, fudge, and cotton candy
  • Jewelry, art, crafts, gifts, and toys
  • Shells, minerals, and fossils
  • Wine tasting
  • Sportswear clothing
  • Fishing gear rental and bait and tackle
  • Palm reading
  • Fresh fish, shellfish, steaks, prime rib, fish and chips, burgers, cocktails, exotic tropical drinks, and more
  • Child-friendly water taxi and harbor tours
  • Interactive Sea Center museum

Watch for further announcements
Stay tuned to Stearns Wharf Celebrates 150th Anniversary for the remainder of the concerts, and other events that will take place throughout the year.

Historical photos credit: Edson Smith Photo Collection

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The Stearns Wharf Merchants Association represents the merchants and business owners on Stearns Wharf. Stearns Wharf is located at the end of State Street between East Beach and the Santa Barbara Harbor. For more information, visit www.stearnswharf.org

Wharf Wednesday Concert to feature The Do No Harm Band

There’s no better view of Santa Barbara than from Stearns Wharf and there’s no better time to experience it than on Wharf Wednesdays. To celebrate Stearns Wharf’s 150th birthday, Wharf Merchants are offering specials on the first Wednesday of every month in 2022.

The next Wharf Wednesday on April 6th will also feature live music by the Do No Harm Band. The free concert will rock the Wharf from 6pm to 8pm. Do No Harm Band is a five piece, Multi-Genre Santa Barbara, California based band. Formed in 2007, Do No Harm Band has been a “must have” favored dance band for all occasions/events throughout the Santa Barbara County. This gifted, experienced, energetic group of musicians/vocalists takes pride in keeping your favorite Rock, R&B, Soul, Motown, Disco, Blues, Latin, Country and Jazz alive.

The night will start by firing the historic cannon. Bring the kids or a date, have dinner or drinks, stroll the shops, take in the sunset and you’ve got the makings for a memorable evening. Mark your calendar now and come listen to some great music on the most picturesque stage in the world!

Stay tuned to https://stearnswharf.org/stearns-wharf-to-celebrate-150th-anniversary/ for the remainder of the summer concerts, and other events that will take place throughout the year. The big anniversary bash will be on Saturday, October 8th.

Do No Harm Band
April 6th – Do No Harm Band

Historical photos credit: Edson Smith Photo Collection

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The Stearns Wharf Merchants Association represents the merchants and business owners on Stearns Wharf. Stearns Wharf is located at the end of State Street between East Beach and the Santa Barbara Harbor. For more information, visit www.stearnswharf.org

Contact Us

If you wish to make reservations at a restaurant, please contact the restaurant directly. It is best to call the restaurant. You can find the contact information on the Restaurants page.

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Frequently Asked Questions

BBQ on Stearns Wharf Hours
  • Question: received online from contact page
  • Just wondering if we can bbq on the pier with a propane burner while we fish. Thank you!
  • Answer: No open flames on the wharf, also no smoking.
Stearns Wharf Hours
Are Bikes allowed on Stearns Wharf?
Question: Are bikes allowed on Stearn's wharf?
Answer: Yes, bikes are allowed, however the four wheel Surrey bikes you rent are not allowed.
Tour and Charter Bus Parking areas
Any vehicle over 20' is prohibited from accessing Stearns Wharf because of the limited turning radius and other considerations on Stearns Wharf. All tour buses can park in the zone designated “Tour Bus Parking” near the Santa Barbara Visitor Center, on Cabrillo Blvd. just past the Garden St. intersection.

A mere 50 yards away is Stearns Wharf, where a medley of shops, restaurants, a museum, wine tasting, renting fishing gear or even get your palm read, all of this and more await you. A short stroll up the Wharf gives the casual stroller the beautiful views of the Harbor (where all the boats are parked), the panoramic views of the mountains as well as the islands offshore.

Tour and Charter Bus directions for parking on Cabrillo Blvd. If you are coming from the south (going North on 101), exit at Garden, turn left at the bottom of the off ramp, proceed until you reach Cabrillo, then turn right on park on the right in the designated Charter bus parking zone.

To view the map in a full size page, click here.

Renting Wheel Chairs on Stearns Wharf
The company to contact regarding wheelchairs and rides is “Easy Lift” at (805) 681-1181 and website: http://www.easylift.org.
Lost and Found
The Lost and Found for missing items is located in the Harbor Patrol Office at 132-A Harbor Way. Phone number is (805) 564-5530. All found items should make their way to this office if found on the Wharf or in the Harbor.
Stearns Wharf Pet Policy
Dogs are allowed Stearns Wharf and there are rules/laws/regulations that govern animals and/or dogs. Most of the laws are common among municipalities. For example, dogs must be on a leash, less than 6' in length, the dog must always be under the immediate control of the owner, you must clean up after your dog, and for Santa Barbara dogs are not permitted on the beach in city limits and dogs left in vehicles when the weather is hot is not advised.

There are a couple of restaurants that have outdoor seating that may allow you to have your dog sit nearby while you enjoy a burger (Char West-805-962-5631) or a lobster taco (SB Shellfish 805-966-6676). For complete details on our animal regulations, please visit our website, http://www.santabarbaraca.gov (Municipal code, section 6) , or feel free to contact the Waterfront Department's Property Management Specialist, Patrick Henry at 805-897-1961 or Patrick Henry at Santa BarbaraCA . gov.

Stearns Wharf Fishing is Free
For all fellow anglers who like to fish off of Piers and Wharfs, fishing on Stearns Wharf is free. You will find supplies and bait at Stearns Wharf Bait and Tackle for all of your fishing needs.
Stearns Wharf Permits Photo & Film
Film Production on Stearns Wharf For photo and film permits please contact the Waterfront Department at 805-564-5531.
Walking Shoes
It is not recommended to wear high heels. The heels can get stuck between the planks and heels can get broken. Flat comfortable shoes are suggested for walking on Stearns Wharf.
No bare feet on Stearns Wharf
Stearns Wharf Sign
No Requests for Donations or Businesses Allowed
We do not permit person(s) to “set up a station” for selling/displaying of any items for sale, massages, etc. We do not permit any requests for donations or sales in the roadway or on the walkway since the free flow of vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic is paramount for everyone’s safety and enjoyment. Stearns Wharf is an old wooden wharf with very limited space.
Any merchant related ventures (no carts or stands)
We appreciate your interest in wishing to conduct business in the Santa Barbara Waterfront. We receive numerous business proposals annually and although we appreciate you wanting to do business in the Waterfront, we do not allow these types of business activities. As far as the permissibility of such an operation I can direct you to our Municipal Code.

    • SB Municipal Code Chapter 17.28.010: Permit Required - Business Activity: Except as expressly authorized in writing by the Waterfront Director or his or her designee, no person shall engage in any business or commercial activity of any kind whatsoever in the Harbor District without first having applied for and obtained the appropriate license, lease or permit. (Ord. 5528, 2010; Ord. 4757, 1992; Ord. 3517 §2(part), 1972.)

 

The Harbor District as defined in the Municipal Code Section 17.04.010.M is the entire waterfront of the City. More specifically: M. HARBOR DISTRICT. The entire Waterfront of the City, including all navigable waters and all tidelands and submerged lands, whether filled or unfilled, situated below the line of mean high tide, bounded by the limits of the City as now fixed or hereafter may be extended. (Ord. 5386, 2006; Ord. 4757, 1992; Prior Code §24.1.)

The entire Municipal Code is available at: https://santabarbaraca.gov/government/city-hall/city-charter-municipal-code and on Chapter 17.28 BUSINESS ACTIVITY AND ADVERTISING IN HARBOR. This section states that you must meet a number of criteria to do business in the Harbor including leasable space.

To inquire about any space for lease, feel free to contact the Waterfront Department's Property Management Specialist, Patrick Henry at 805-897-1961 or phenry@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.

Fun Facts about Stearns Wharf from ChatGPT
Stearns Wharf is an iconic landmark in Santa Barbara, California, and is the oldest working wharf on the West Coast of the United States. Here are some fun facts about Stearns Wharf:

  • Stearns Wharf was built in 1872 by John P. Stearns, a local lumberman, and served as a commercial and passenger transportation hub.
  • The wharf was originally built to accommodate steamships and provide a convenient way to transport goods and people between Santa Barbara and other ports.
  • In the early 20th century, Stearns Wharf became a popular destination for tourists and fishermen, and it still is today.
  • Stearns Wharf has survived several natural disasters, including the earthquake of 1925 and the severe storms of 1983.
  • Today, Stearns Wharf is home to several restaurants, shops, and attractions, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, which features interactive exhibits and live marine animals.
  • Stearns Wharf is a popular spot for fishing, and anglers can catch a variety of fish, including rockfish, mackerel, and halibut.
  • The wharf offers stunning views of the Santa Barbara coastline, the Santa Ynez Mountains, and the Channel Islands.
  • Stearns Wharf has been featured in several movies, including "The Graduate" and "It's Complicated."
  • The wharf is also home to the famous Moby Dick Restaurant, which has been serving seafood since 1968.
  • In 2019, Stearns Wharf celebrated its 147th anniversary, and it continues to be a beloved landmark and popular destination for visitors to Santa Barbara.
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HISTORY OF STEARNS WHARF

 


Stearns Wharf, the oldest working wood wharf in California, was built in 1872 by John Peck Stearns to facilitate the transfer of cargo and people from ships to shore. In 1925, the State of California, conveyed the Tidelands and the Harbor area to the City to be held in trust for certain priority uses and purposes. In 1926, Max Fleschmann offered the City of Santa Barbara $200,000 toward the construction of a harbor if the City would match the amount. A detached breakwater was completed in 1928 with an extension to shore constructed in 1930. Sand accretion began immediately with Leadbetter Beach and the current harbor commercial areas being created within seven years after the breakwater as completed.Up until the 1870s, Santa Barbara was virtually cut off from the outside world by its natural barriers of the ocean and the mountains. In 1867, John Peck Stearns moved to Santa Barbara and opened a lumberyard at the foot of State Street. Mr. Stearns noted that the town needed a long wharf so that Ocean ships could tie up at low tide. In 1872, with the financial backing of Colonel William Welles Hollister, Stearns completed the Wharf and Santa Barbara’s isolation from the outside world was over.

The Wharf has endured since 1872, making it the oldest working wooden wharf in California. It is 2,300 feet long and has an area of 3.8 acres supported by 2,307 pilings. There are currently seventeen businesses on the Wharf including three restaurants, a shellfish market, a bait and tackle shop, tourist oriented shops, a Channels Islands exhibit hall and a marine museum.

In 1878, A Chinese junk crashed into the Wharf during a severe storm, destroying 1,000 feet of decking. Before this damage could be repaired, the first tornado in the City’s history struck on New Year’s Eve, causing even more damage to the Wharf. In 1887, due to the heavy and regular tread of two hundred Civil War Veterans, the Wharf almost collapsed which would have thrown 3,000 people into the ocean. That same year marked the arrival of the railroad into Santa Barbara, signaling the decline of ship traffic.

In response to the arrival of the railroad, J.P. Stearns built a 1,450 foot wye onto the Wharf to carry a railroad spur so that lumber could be quickly transferred from ships onto flat cars. The wye proved too expensive to maintain and was abandoned, after being battered by more than a decade of storms. A small portion of the wye remains today, housing the Sea Center marine museum and the Nature Conservancy exhibit hall.


In 1921, the Wharf Narrowly escaped destruction by fire. The 600 room Potter Hotel burned down and a 50-mile-an hour gale sent sparks which ignited the pilings on the Wharf and palm trees along West Beach.

In 1973, the famed Harbor Restaurant was destroyed by a spectacular pre-dawn fire, closing the Wharf. The Wharf was reopened eight years later. The Wharf was rebuilt with approximately the same building area that had existed previously and the same number of parking spaces. There had been other proposals for considerable increases in commercial space on the Wharf, but they have been denied by the Coastal Commission during the 1970’s.

In February 1983, the Santa Barbara area was hit by a “100 year storm” which heavily damaged the Wharf and Harbor. Damage to the Wharf was estimated at over half a million dollars. In December 1987, another fierce storm struck and a derelict barge and fishing boat broke free from their moorings east of the Wharf and were hurled into the Wharf, along with their mooring balls. About 30 pilings were knocked out, causing the Wharf to sag near the beach and closing it for one week. Damages was estimated at $100,000 to the Wharf and several hundred thousands dollars in lost revenue to the Wharf merchants.

In June 1986, a fire occurred on the shoreward finger of the Wharf. A fire caused by a damaged water pump caused heavy damage to the recently opened Sea Center as well as damaging the Wharf underpinnings and the Nature Conservancy building. The two grey whale models exhibited in the Sea Center building were not damaged but the shoreward finger of the Wharf was closed for six months for repairs….

Santa Barbara’s Historic Stearns Wharf Reopens Following Tragic Fire; 80% of Beachfront Landmark Saved and Open for Business

Santa Barbara, California, November 23, 1998, A fire erupted in the vicinity of Moby Dick’s restaurant on Stearns Wharf Wednesday night, November 18, about 9:40 p.m. after the restaurant was closed for the evening. Fueled by the creosote preserved timbers of the wharf structure, the fire spread quickly. It consumed 420 feet of an outer segment of the 2,300 foot long wharf before being brought under control at 6:45 a.m., Thursday morning. Three businesses were totally destroyed by the fire: Moby Dick’s Restaurant, Mike’s Bait and Tackle Shop, and Santa Barbara Shellfish Company.

 

Testimonials

Read about reviews from our visitors. We appreciate each and every one.

 


Review of Stearns Wharf, from Tripadvisor

trip logo

    Ranked #24 of 69 attractions in Santa Barbara. No visit to Santa Barbara would be complete wtihout a stroll down this beautiful wharf. Also a great place for that Kodak moment while visitng Santa Barbara.

    Amy K. Los Angeles


    Review of Stearns Wharf, from Gogobot Reviews

    Gogobot logo

    Relax by enjoying a meal outdoors on the patio of the Harbor Restaurant, then walk around the wharf breathing in the fresh ocean air. Christine M

Stearns Wharf Pet Policy

Dogs are allowed Stearns Wharf and there are rules/laws/regulations that govern animals and/or dogs. Most of the laws are common among municipalities. For example, dogs must be on a leash, less than 6′ in length, the dog must always be under the immediate control of the owner, you must clean up after your dog, and for Santa Barbara dogs are not permitted on the beach in city limits and dogs left in vehicles when the weather is hot is not advised.

There are a couple of restaurants that have outdoor seating that may allow you to have your dog sit nearby while you enjoy a burger (Char West-805-962-5631) or a lobster taco (SB Shellfish 805-966-6676).

For complete details on our animal regulations, please visit our website, http://www.santabarbaraca.gov (Municipal code, section 6) , or feel free to contact the Waterfront Department’s Property Management Specialist, Patrick Henry at 805-897-1961 or phenry@SantaBarbaraCA.gov.

Stearns Wharf