Travel Koncierge: Santa Barbara        page 4
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Travel Koncierge for Santa Barbara!  

With mild weather comes a lot of things to do.  Your kids will find a
week to be not nearly long enough to enjoy all that Santa Barbara
has to offer.  Here is a taste:

Beaches – Of course the beaches are why you are here.  The
beaches are largely protected by the Channel Islands, so the
shore break is generally pretty quiet.  That being said, swimming
is complicated by lots of kelp and cool water temperatures.  Oh,
and a little oil seepage.  No matter what anyone tells you, the
occasional black smears that appear on your feet are NOT from
the oil platforms off shore.  They are natural seepage from the
deposits underground that percolate up through the sand.  The old
Chumash Indians who used to inhabit the area in greater
numbers used it to caulk their canoes.   The sand is still good to
play in the entire length of state beach from the Harbor to the Volley
Ball courts.  Other beaches of note include the beach in front of the
Biltmore (tide dependent), Henry’s Beach, and the beaches off of
Isla Vista.

Swimming – If your kids want to swim there are a number of good
pools with areas suitable for swimmers of all levels.  For pre-
swimmers, there is
Oak Park on 300 W. Alamar near Cottage
hospital.  If you swim, there is a full-service aquatic facility
(including a wading pool) at the
Los Banos Pool at 401 Shoreline
(basically Cabrillo) in West Beach.  All of the pools feature
lifeguards and are very safe.  
Ortega Pool deserves a pass since
the pool is about the size of a good-sized living room.  

A full list of community pools can be found at

Waterplay can also be found about 30 minutes drive south from
Santa Barbara at Lake Casitas in the community of Ojai.  
The Lake
Casitas Water Adventure, (805) 649-2233, $12 admission
two areas: a very shallow play structure with slides, lots of water
squirters, valves, and areas to run around.  This area is
supervised by lifeguards.  There are covered areas for the parents
and lounge chairs from which to watch the action.  Right next to the
play structure is a flume.  This over quarter mile loop has a current
and flotation devices that you can lay on and float your way around
the twists and turns.  This waterway is about 3.5 feet deep and is
well-supervised by lifeguards although your children should never
be left unattended here.  For directions, visit
http://www. There are changing rooms,
showers, lockers, and life-preservers available.  Afterwards, the
family can continue on to Ojai for lunch or wander down the hill to
Ventura.  Ojai is a small artsy town in the hills (there is a
playground in the middle of town).  Ventura is considerably larger
with a wider range of dining options available.

A little closer to Santa Barbara is Lake Cachuma,
http://www.  Lake Cachuma is a reservoir
and so you can’t swim in it.  That being said, you can take
rowboats out on the water and there are picnic tables nearby which
can make for a lovely day.

Skateboarding – Skater’s Point is a very popular skate park on
Cabrillo just East of Stearn's Wharf (the Pier at the end of State
Street).  Skateboarders of all ages and abilities find this park
enjoyable.  At 14,600 square feet, the park is roomy enough so that
the little ones do not get run over.  Park-goers are very mindful of
the smaller ones which is nice.  Still, kids should know a little
about what they are doing and wear adequate protection.  

Bike riding – one can bike ride basically uninterrupted from the
Harbor all the way along the beach to the Biltmore without having
to deal with cars.  Our son loves to ride the well-tended paths every
day.  For those wanting a little single track, the mountains offer
rather hot and dry trails to ride on.  You can rent bikes at one of
many vendors at the corner of Cabrillo and State near Stean's
Wharf.  You can rent everything from a bike to a tandem to a jitney
(a four-wheeled covered vehicle that can sit several people).  When
the weather is nice and it frequently is, this is a lovely way to
explore this city.  There is a 3 mile (one way) path from the bird
refuge at the far eastern end of town that goes along the beach to
Leadbetter Beach.  It is a very scenic, friendly ride.

Horse Riding
Circle Bar B Ranch, 1800 Refugio Road, Goleta (805) 968-3901,
The Circle Bar-B is more than a riding stables, they are also a
ranch where you can stay if you like.  The rides span all ability
levels and the horses are well-tended.  On your rides, you will go
through the trails and hills above Goleta, just a little farther north.  
You can ride for an hour and a half all the way up to a half day.  The
rides go through a range of terrains from fern-lined canyons all the
way to wind-swept grasses overlooking the Pacific.  We loved our

Parks – Playgrounds are plentiful and very nice.  Our favorite is
Alameda Park/Kids World in the heart of Santa Barbara between
E. Sola and E. Micheltorena and Santa Barbara and Garden
Streets.  On one side are lovely gardens with a pond with koi,
ducks, and turtles moving about languidly.  On the other side is
one of the best parks anywhere.  It boasts an enormous wood
structure with lots of passageways to explore, things to climb on,
and areas to test their balance at a civilized 12 inches off the
ground).  If our child could come here everyday he would.

Elsewhere in the city, there is
Oak Park over by the hospital (with a
wading pool for your pre-swimmers),
Las Positas Park, and
Shoreline Park on the Mesa over looking the Ocean (with
playground equipment)

Another favorite is
Chase Palms Park at Garden and Cabrillo just
East of State Street.  This park boasts a working carousel and a
very nice play structure with lots of sand.

Lastly, don’t forget the huge lawn across the street from the
Mission.  Kids can run themselves silly on this lush expanse.

A full list of parks can be found here

Hiking.  With Santa Barbara sitting right between the mountains
and the sea, there is a wide range of hiking trails available from
mild walks to rather strenuous hikes.  Some enjoyable hikes
Cold Spring Trail in Montecito, Tunnel Trails near the
Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens,
Piedra Blanca in Ojai (huge
white rocks to clamber all over but watch water levels in the winter)  
There are also nice walks in and around the Santa Barbara
Botanical Gardens (again, right near the Mission).  We like the
following site for hiking ideas:  

Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Ninos Drive, (805) 962-5339, www.
With the passing last year of the famed “crooked neck giraffe”, the
zoo has lost a major part of its character soul.  With that being
said, the zoo is a very nice zoo for a community of any size.  The
exhibits and habitats are well-designed and visitors can get up
front and personal with the remaining giraffes.  Just beware their

Indoor activities
Summer weather can be a little misleading.  The mornings can be
a little foggy and cool but the fog burns off by midday leaving you
with very hot and sunny days.  If your kids are wilting from the sun
we can recommend the following for a break.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street (at Anapamu)
(805) 963-4364
This compact museum should not be missed.  Though not as
huge as the LA County Museum, this cozy museum boasts a
wonderful collection.  As they say, it isn't how much you have on
display if what you have on display is first class.  In fact, the size is
perfect for families with kids since the collection is not
overwhelming, the exhibits are well-organized and well
documented (so that your kids can understand what the exhibits
are all about) and they have a Children's Gallery across from the
cafe downstairs.  The Children's Gallery has a number of well-
executed activities and scavenger hunts that make the collection
very accessible.  The collection spans Asia and the Pacific,
Europe, the Americas, and much more.  

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2559 Puesta del Sol
Road (805) 682-4711,
Tucked away by the Mission, the Museum of Natural History is a
very entertaining way to spend the day.  The exhibits all include
drawers underneath them that the kids and open and explore
another aspect of the specimens.  There is a lot to see and touch.  
Exhibits include a large bug area, special exhibits, see life, a
planetarium, and lots of outdoor activities on the grounds.

Ty Warner Sea Center, On Stearn's Wharf,  
If you want a break from the beach, take a walk out on the wooden
pier (Stearn’s Wharf) and visit the Warner Sea Center.  Though
small, the center focuses on the sea life in waters off of Santa
Barbara with lots of things to see and touch.  There is a lab where
marine biologists regularly pull up buckets from the water below
the pier to show visitors what lives below.  The tanks are well-
staffed with scientists and docents who are ready for your child’s
questions.  There is a discount on admission if you visit the
Natural History Museum and the Marine Center on the same day.  
The rest of the pier is notable for its lovely views of the city and little
else.  The Pier is a definite must do, but manage expectations.

Other Sites
County Courthouse
A prime example of Santa Barbara architecture, this building also
boasts a tower that you can climb up to have the best view of the

Douglas Family Preserve
Linda Street off of Cliff Drive
If you brought your dog or just want to see them, this bluff
overlooking Hendry’s beach offers awesome views of the oceans
and the playing dolphins.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art –
1130 State Street,

Other information worth Knowing
Summer Camps
If you are planning on being in town for a week or more during the
summer, consider the following camps (if you weren’t staying at
the Four Seasons):  

Annual Events
In the first week of August, Santa Barbara becomes a big party.  
There is lots of live music, food, and our child’s favorite:  confetti
eggs, hollowed out eggs with confetti in them that are then
resealed with tissue paper.  You can imagine what people do with

For the Grown Ups
We list these in the event that you are able to find babysitting or if
your kids are in camp.  These two spots are notable because they
are unique to the area.  Kids can come along if they are older.  

Casa del Herrero, 1387 E. Valley Road, Montecito, (805) 565-
George Washington Smith is the architect responsible for the
Spanish Colonial revival architecture movement all over Santa
Barbara.  This home, commissioned by George Steedman in
1922, is the premier example of this architect’s signature style.

Lotus Land, 695 Ashley Road, Montecito, (805) 969-9990, www.
Lotus Land is a stunning set of gardens also in Montecito that
people come from all over to see.  These gardens are by
appointment only.  This labor of love is stunning tribute to the
vision of a socialite turned gardener, Madame Walska.  The history
of the estate and their mistress is amazing.  If you can make it
happen, it is worth it.  Advance planning is recommended/

Useful websites – More for the parents who live there.  Still,
there is a lot of good information here for visitors. – we have discussed this encyclopedic
website previously.  Worth keeping in mind if you are looking for
something specific.

Travel Koncierge Santa Barbara
Page Four
Updated July 5, 2010
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