There’s so considerably to do when you are going to Santa Barbara with children. My parents made use of to reside right here and we go back typically for weddings and weekend getaways, generally through the uncomplicated Pacific Surfliner train from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

We adore strolling via the entertaining, family members-friendly museums, relaxing on the attractive beaches, and exploring what there is to do up and down the coast. The climate is close to best for most of the year (Santa Barbara gets 300+ days of sunshine), so all-ages outside excursions abound. 

What you will not obtain in Santa Barbara are the huge theme parks that draw so quite a few households to San Diego. That indicates that going to Santa Barbara with children can be much more relaxing. Your holiday will unfold at a slower pace. There will not be any extended lines, just extended stretches of top quality time.

Under you will obtain 10 of my favourite items to do in Santa Barbara with children.

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Go to the Beach

Seagulls at the water's edge at Leadbetter beach in Santa Barbara.
Leadbetter Beach photo by Jay Sinclair, Courtesy of Take a look at Santa Barbara

When Santa Barbara is in some cases referred to as the American Riviera, it is critical to don’t forget that this is California. Not all the beaches in Santa Barbara are good swimming beaches. Some are improved for watching the sunset, tide pooling, or getting a picnic.

The very best beaches for children in Santa Barbara, in my opinion, are Leadbetter Beach, East Beach, Butterfly Beach, Miramar Beach, and Carpinteria State Beach.

Leadbetter Beach is across from Santa Barbara City College. Usually gentle waves make it a preferred spot for mastering how to surf and men and women who get pleasure from ocean swimming. It is a beautiful sandy beach with hassle-free amenities that contain a grassy lawn and outside barbecue facilities.

East Beach is the epitome of a Santa Barbara beach and is conveniently positioned close to downtown. Older children will want to play volleyball right here, and there are kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals appropriate on the beach. It can get busy, but it is never ever packed.

Butterfly Beach is a neighborhood favourite with its narrow strip of pristine sand and its special east-west orientation that tends to make it a hot spot for sunsets and sunrises. Once more, this beach does not have lifeguards, but the surf is not terribly intense, either.

Miramar Beach is a little curved beach with virtually no waves exactly where households can stroll, tide pool, splash about, or just unwind. It is surely a hidden gem and one particular that not quite a few vacationers know about. The only downsides are that this beach does not have facilities or lifeguards, and the parking lot is tiny.

Carpinteria State Beach is one particular of the safest beaches in the nation and is just about ten minutes away from downtown Santa Barbara. The water is particularly calm right here since of a protective reef, creating it a good location to take newbie surfing lessons when you are going to Santa Barbara with children.

If hitting the beach is quantity one particular on your itinerary when you are going to Santa Barbara with children, also verify out Santa Claus Beach and Arroyo Burro Beach — each of which are good swimming beaches.

Santa Barbara Zoo

A little boy feeds a giraffe lettuce at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
Photo by David Collier, Courtesy of Take a look at California

We get pleasure from going to the Santa Barbara Zoo. It is on the smaller sized side, which tends to make it a good half-day outing, plus it is definitely beautiful and nicely-maintained. I’d say it is worth a stop by just to see the native California condors and to hand feed the ​resident Masai giraffes.

Older children will get pleasure from climbing on the 26-foot rock wall though younger guests will have a blast riding the zoo train, panning for fossils, and operating about in the family members play location. 

The zoo is also residence to exotic animals from diverse ecosystems, which includes anteaters, lions, gorillas, elephants, penguins, and snow leopards. One particular of the most intriguing characteristics of the zoo is the animal kitchen exactly where guests can watch as zoo employees prepare meals for the different animals.

Chase Palm Park

There’s some debate about which park has the very best playground in Santa Barbara. Chase Palm Park has a enormous wooden shipwreck-themed play location plus a cute old-fashioned carousel and a koi pond that small children will be content to watch for a extended time. There’s also a bike and rollerblading trail, a skateboard park, attractive walking trails, and beach access.

It is positioned midway in between the Santa Barbara Zoo and Stearns Wharf, across the street from East Beach. If your children like to stroll, you could invest the morning at the zoo, run about the park in the afternoon, and grab dinner at the wharf, and perhaps hit the beach in in between.

Santa Barbara Museum of Organic History

Kids taking a look at a stegosaurus statue at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
Photo by Jessy Lynn Perkins, Courtesy of Take a look at Santa Barbara

This is not your standard organic history museum. There are a lot of hands-on activities, and the museum’s show circumstances are generally positioned close to the floor so even the smallest guests will be in a position to see anything.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Organic History also has a relaxed vibe. Taking children to museums can in some cases really feel stressful, but not right here! Households are no cost to wander gradually via the eight halls of exhibits showcasing dinosaurs, mammals, minerals, and much more.

You can simply see anything — which includes the 72-foot blue whale skeleton named Chad — in about two hours, but if you have much more time, it is worth seeing a show at the Gladwin Planetarium.

MOXI Museum

Kids playing on a speed track at Moxi Museum in Santa Barbara.
Photo by JasonRick, Courtesy of Take a look at Santa Barbara

When you are going to Santa Barbara with children, surely place this entertaining, interactive museum on your itinerary. MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation has tons of hands-on science and tech exhibits that are as considerably entertaining for parents as they are for children.

There are 3 floors filled with 17,000 square feet of exploration space that consists of developing, splashing, crafting, and music and sound activities. Make positive you stop by the rooftop for a excellent view of Santa Barbara.  

Rent Bikes

A multigenerational family riding a surrey bike down a sidewalk in Santa Barbara.
Photo by Wheel Enjoyable Rentals, Courtesy of Take a look at Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is such a bike-friendly neighborhood, and I adore the side of the city I see when I’m exploring on two (or 4) wheels. You do not have to bring your personal bike since there are lots of shops and Santa Barbara hotels that will let you rent bikes for the day or for as extended as you will be going to the city.

There are miles of nicely-maintained bike paths along the coast that are flat and uncomplicated sufficient for children as young as six to ride on with self-confidence. You can bike from the quiet village of Montecito to downtown Santa Barbara and Stearns Wharf, and there are guided cycling tours, as well.

You could simply invest a excellent weekend sightseeing in Santa Barbara with children with no ever receiving behind the wheel of a auto. 

Kid’s World 

Younger children will adore operating about at the excellent eight,000-square-foot playground at Alameda Park — one particular of Santa Barbara’s oldest parks, appropriate across from Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.

Recognized as Kid’s Planet, this playground has lots of slides and swings, and a massive castle structure for youngsters to discover, plus a separate location for smaller sized children.

Tree climbers will obtain a lot of good low hanging branches to dangle from, as well. It is a good spot to invest a handful of unscheduled hours when you are going to Santa Barbara with children. 

Stearns Wharf

An aerial shot of cars driving down the Stearns Wharf pier in Santa Barbara.
Photo by Jessy Lynn Perkins, Courtesy of Take a look at Santa Barbara

This waterfront location at the finish of State Street is Santa Barbara’s most visited attraction since there’s so considerably to do.

Stearns Wharf is exactly where you will obtain the Santa Barbara Museum of Organic History Sea Center — an interactive marine education facility that is enjoyable for all ages. There’s also family members-friendly buying (we like to cease and get trinkets at the Old Wharf Trading Firm) and dining (attempt Santa Barbara Shellfish Firm).

Anytime we’re right here, we grab ice cream at Terrific Pacific Ice Cream Shop and pop into Madame Stearns Candy Shop to see what’s new. If you want to do one thing a bit out of the ordinary, have a palm reading or get your tarot cards study at Madame Rosinka’s. As a kid, I generally believed it was cool that you could drive out onto the wharf (parking can be difficult even though).

Whale Watching

A couple with binoculars and a camera searching for whales on a boat near Santa Barbara.
Photo by David Collier, Courtesy of Take a look at California

The Santa Barbara Channel is one particular of the very best locations for whale watching in California since the nutrient-wealthy waters attract hungry marine animals, which includes dolphins and migrating whales.

There are a lot of Santa Barbara whale watching tours obtainable, on boats that variety from bare-bones to very luxurious. From November via April, you will spot Pacific gray whales as they head south to Baja California to give birth and then north once more (this time with their calves in tow) back to Alaska.

From spring via fall, you will see colossal blue whales and acrobatic humpback whales, along with shy minke whales and fin whales. You can also spot whales from the trails along Santa Barbara’s scenic bluffs.

Lil’ Toot Taxi

The Lil' Toot Water Taxi sailing in Santa Barbara harbor.
Photo by Jay Sinclair, Courtesy of Take a look at Santa Barbara

Going to Santa Barbara with children will virtually generally imply taking a ride or two on this Santa Barbara icon. The Lil’ Toot Water Taxi is an adorable yellow tugboat with a distinctive whistle, a smokestack that blows bubbles, and a super cute smile.

Tiny children adore the Lil’ Toot Water Taxi, and admission is just a handful of dollars ($five for grownups, $two for children) for a 15-minute narrated boat ride that runs in between the Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf.

The tug departs every single half hour and seats up to 19 passengers. Tours made use of to be provided on a very first-come, very first-served basis, but now it is attainable to get tickets in advance on line.

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Santa Barbara Family members Hotels

If you are hunting for someplace to remain though going to Santa Barbara with children, my prime choose amongst neighborhood hotels is 4 Seasons Resort The Biltmore, Santa Barbara. It is one particular of my favourite luxury hotels precisely since it is so welcoming to children and the atmosphere is pretty relaxed.

There’s also a lot to do, each on and close to the home. We’ve taken benefit of the bike rentals quite a few occasions, and their summer season Youngsters for All Seasons has supervised activities for children ages five via 12. It is uncomplicated to book babysitting via the hotel and get pleasure from a small grownup time for the duration of your family members holiday.

TIP: When you are prepared to book a Santa Barbara hotel, maintain in thoughts that we have access to exclusive VIP amenities. If you book via my Santa Barbara Virtuoso web page, you will get extras like complimentary breakfasts, space upgrades, and spa credits.

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What are your favourite items to do in Santa Barbara with children?