Start everyone off with a fun and hearty meal at Sambo’s on the beach. Sambo’s has been serving classic hot breakfasts and lunches at this location since 1957. Parents will love the reasonable prices and ocean views. And even the pickiest eaters will approve of the basket of warm muffins served with every order - sometimes they’re chocolate chip, sometimes they’re blueberry, and sometimes they’re mixed.
After appetites big and small are sated, it’s time to start exploring. Head down the coastline a couple of miles to the Santa Barbara Zoo. While you admire the more than 500 exotic animal species, the kids in your bunch will find the interactive exhibits, like the giraffe feeding station and Duncan the animatronic dinosaur, especially engaging. Don’t pass up an opportunity to ride on one of the park’s miniature locomotives; it’s a treat for train enthusiasts of all ages.
You can grab a quick bite at the zoo’s restaurant when lunch rolls around (just don’t bite anything that’s going to bite you back!), or you can easily cross the street to find the East Beach Grill, a local breakfast, lunch and snack spot right on the beach. Walk up and place your order, then take it out to the sand for an impromptu picnic. We hear that their rootbeer float makes an excellent reward for good behavior.
If you want to explore the city while keeping your home base near the beach, the Land Shark 90-minute land and sea tour is your best bet. This tour sets out from Stearns Wharf multiple times a day and drives you past some of Santa Barbara’s most legendary sites, as described by the (often hilarious) tour guides. The adventure continues as your amphibious touring vehicle transforms into a boat and sets sail in the harbor. You and your family will see yachts, fishing boats and even seals on this memorable part of the trip.
Perhaps your youngest family members can’t be counted on to sit relatively still for 90 minutes. A trip to the Kids Zone at Alameda Park will get their wiggles out. This 8,000 square foot wooden playground is heaven for parents and children alike, with plenty of tunnels, swings and seating areas for everyone. Artwork by local children decorates the play area, and green lawns surround it - ideal for larger parties or a game of frisbee.
Finish your day with a trip to Harry’s Plaza Cafe for dinner. Boasting an extensive menu of American and comfort food favorites, Harry’s is certain to have a little something for everyone. The red vinyl seating and damask wallpaper harkens back to earlier days, as do the historic photos of Santa Barbara that line the walls. Known for strong drinks and big desserts, Harry’s will put all of the members of your family in a good mood before turning in for the night.