Start your Santa Barbara family outing at Chase Palm Park, a pretty oceanfront park with a stunning, working carousel. Explore the ten-acre grounds, enjoy a picnic or bike on the trail. There's a wide, open outdoor theater that hosts concerts in the summer, a playground and several seating areas. The antique carousel is open daily (weather permitting) and costs around $2 for an approximately 5-minute ride.
Watch the pelicans on Stearns Wharf — Photo courtesy of Stepan Mazurov
Cross the street to get to Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara's historic wooden pier. Built in 1872, the wharf is home to many shops and restaurants, including an ice cream stand where you can treat the kids.
Watch fishermen try their luck from the end of the pier, and keep your eyes peeled for pelicans. They love to sun themselves and pose for pictures. You can enjoy a stunning view of the city from all vantage points. This is a great spot to take vacation pictures to show your friends and family back home.
If you want to see what's going on below sea level at the pier, buy tickets to the Ty Warner Sea Center. Owned and operated by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the sea center is a fun, interactive place to learn about ocean life. A touch tank invites visitors to touch live sharks, and a wet deck encourages children to take samples just like oceanographers do.
Board the Santa Barbara Water Taxi to get from the pier to the Santa Barbara Harbor (and later back again) for just $4 per adult and $1 per child. The harbor is where you can admire boats of all kinds, including fishing trawlers and residential yachts.
You might get lucky and see the daily catch come in. Spiny, purple urchins, a local delicacy, are unloaded by crane into waiting trucks. If you're feeling brave, you can buy one at the Santa Barbara Fish Market, crack it open and eat it on the spot!
Santa Barbara Water Taxi's Lil' Toot boat is an easy way to get from pier to harbor — Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Water Taxi
At the harbor, pop into the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum to learn a little more about maritime culture. Exhibits teach visitors about marine life, health and history in the Santa Barbara area. There's also a working periscope that you can peer through.
Wrap up your day with a meal at On the Alley. This casual restaurant serves fresh seafood and kid-approved favorites like tater tots and grilled cheeses. More adventurous eaters should try the crab roll or pulled pork sandwich. Place your order at the counter and lay claim to a table outside to dine al fresco.
The tater tots at On the Alley are real crowd-pleasers — Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives
And just like that, you've spent a day at the Santa Barbara seaside having fun, taking pictures, learning new things and getting fed. It doesn't get any better than that!