10Best Gets Outdoors in Santa Barbara

  • Outdoor Adventure Awaits in Santa Barbara

    Think Santa Barbara and you might at first imagine wining, dining and laying on a beach. Those are all great things, but this SoCal beach town with its stellar year-long weather has so much more to offer, especially when it comes to outdoor adventures. And the best part is you needn't be an athlete or seasoned expert – many of Santa Barbara's outdoor offerings are beginner-friendly.

    Photo courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding

    One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Santa Barbara is from the water, and stand-up paddle boarding is a great way to do it. Beginners can opt for lessons from one of many area outfitters, while experienced paddle boarders can rent and launch right from Santa Barbara Harbor, then paddle past Stern's Wharf and East Beach.

    Photo courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

  • Sailing

    Thanks to Santa Barbara Sailing Center, visitors don't need their own boat to enjoy some SoCal sailing. Newbies to the sport of sailing can sign up for instructional classes or opt to sit back and enjoy the views of the American Riviera aboard a private skippered charter.

    Photo courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

  • Sea Kayaking

    With paddle in hand, travelers can explore the Santa Barbara waterfront by renting a kayak right from the harbor. More adventure awaits at nearby Channel Islands National Park, where guided kayak tours teach paddlers to navigate through sea caves while spotting local wildlife.

    Photo courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

  • Whale & Dolphin Watching

    More than 27 species of whales and dolphins visit the Santa Barbara Channel throughout the year, making it easy to spot fins and tails no matter the season. California gray whales pass by on both their northern and southern migrations, while blue whales and humpbacks feed there from May to November. While out in the channel it's not uncommon to find yourself in the middle of a mega pod comprised of thousands of dolphins.

    Photo courtesy of Lydia Schrandt

  • Horseback Riding

    There's something undeniably romantic about horseback riding along the beach, but if hooves in the sand aren't your thing, trail rides are also available through the scenic hills above Santa Barbara. Either way, the beach views are stunning.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara / Jay Sinclair

  • Rock Climbing

    The Santa Barbara area offers rock climbing suitable for just about every ability level. Newbies practice the basics at Santa Barbara Rock Gym before heading out into San Ysidro Canyon, home to some of the best canyon climbing in the area.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara / Mark Weber

  • Paragliding

    You haven't really seen Santa Barbara until you've seen it from above. Safe, fun and not nearly as scary as you might imagine, paragliding lets flyers soar above the city and the sea to enjoy a nearly unobstructed view of the world below. Beginners can test the skies with a tandem flight, and once hooked, can enroll in lessons to become a certified solo pilot.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara / Jay Sinclair

  • Surfing

    We can't talk about SoCal without mentioning surfing. Surfing legends from around the globe call Santa Barbara home thanks to the epic breaks – some of the best on the West Coast. While Rincon Point, a.k.a. The Queen of the Coast, attracts the pros, novice surfers can easily learn the sport here due to mild tides and relatively warm ocean temperatures. Curious visitors can brush up on their surfing trivia at the Santa Barbara Surfing History Museum.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara / Mark Weber

  • Hiking

    Some of the best ocean views in Santa Barbara can be seen from high above sea level in the hills surrounding the city. Hikers who make it to the top of Gaviota Peak in Gaviota State Park are rewarded with stellar views of the Santa Barbara coast and the Channel Islands.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara / Mark Weber

  • Golfing

    Santa Barbara boasts six public 18-hole golf courses and several more 9-hole courses, many featuring natural, rolling fairways and panoramic ocean views. The course at Sandpiper Golf Club is often ranked among the best public courses in the nation.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara / Aidan Bradley