10 Fun Things to Do with Kids in Santa Barbara

You love Santa Barbara. Maybe you first visited when you were a college student. Then you planned your honeymoon here, spending lazy days on the white sand beaches and evenings dining under the stars at swanky restaurants like Lucky's or the Blue Agave.

Then you had kids.

Well, chin up buttercup, we have good news for you: Santa Barbara is just as wonderful (perhaps even more so) as a family fun vacation destination! In fact, we had a difficult time limiting this list to just 10 kid-friendly activities.

So where to begin? 

We believe that the perfect day with kids here starts at the beach. If it's warm enough for swimming head to Carpinteria Beach, billed as one of the world's safest beaches because there is no undertow. If it's on the chilly side, try East Beach. This is a wonderful beach because there are volleyball courts, restrooms and snacks! An onsite restaurant offers everything from pancakes to hot dogs to root beer floats.

In the afternoon, head to the Ty Warner Sea Center to learn more about marine biology or hop on the Landshark for an amphibious cruise to do some land and sea exploring. Finish your day with a trip to Kid's World at Alameda Park. After the kiddos exhaust themselves on the area's best playground, treat yourself to a little room service back at your luxurious hotel. See? Some things never change.

No trip to Santa Barbara is complete without a visit to the Santa Barbara harbor! This is a great place to stroll, eat, shop and see the sights. The breakwater was completed in 1930 and provides safe harbor for commercial and private boats, as...  Read More

Applauded by "Dr. Beach" for its beauty and quality, Carpinteria also finds approval with visitors, who love the calm waters that result from a protective reef. Swimming is safe for adults and little ones, and the beach is great for sand play,...  Read More

Santa Barbara

A Santa Barbara leisure-time favorite, this busy beach offers recreational opportunities in spades. A children's playground, rollerblading trails, food vendors, picnic facilities, a bathhouse, showers and open lawns invite you and your family to...  Read More

Visit the Santa Barbara Rock Gym for an afternoon of indoor exercise like no other. Enjoy 8,500 square feet of indoor climbing spaces. Santa Barbara Rock Gym offers first time climber programs, youth classes and birthday party fun. You can pay...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Alameda Park
Photo courtesy of Nico Lette

Kids are especially enthralled by this downtown park, which boasts plenty of playground equipment and open spaces. Trees punctuate the green space, and a gazebo shelters musicians who play when the weather's warm. Alameda Park is a great...  Read More

Owned and operated by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Sea Center is a wet and wild offshoot, focused on marine life. Creatures of the deep and the not-so-deep steal the spotlight, from eels to starfish. Interactive exhibits...  Read More

Santa Barbara

This 10-acre park's landscaped grounds stretch along Cabrillo Boulevard and incorporate both an older footprint and a new addition. Trails accommodate bikers and rollerbladers, a skateboarding park is available, and beautifully landscaped open...  Read More

A giant skeleton of a blue whale greets you at the entrance to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, letting you know that you have arrived at a magical place dedicated to the wonders of nature. Occupying 11 acres in historic Mission...  Read More

Land And Sea Tours
Photo courtesy of Nico Lette

LAND SHARK! This is the most fun tour in Santa Barbara, primarily because it takes place on a huge open truck-type vehicle that, halfway through the 90-minute tour, turns into a boat and launches into the sea! Yes, Land and Sea Tours offers an...  Read More

Santa Barbara

Elephants, flamingos, lions, and even penguins... some of the most intriguing members of the animal kingdom are waiting for you at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Over 500 species are showcased on 30 lush acres overlooking the beach. Special features...  Read More


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva