12 Amazing Things to Do in Santa Barbara With Kids

TripKart Holidays
26 Min Read

1. Santa Barbara Zoo: A Wild EncounterA. Interactive Exhibits: Education Through EngagementB. Behind-the-Scenes Adventures: A VIP ExperienceC. Conservation Initiatives: Making a Difference2. Visit Beach: Sun, Sand, and SmilesA. Family-Friendly Beaches: Safe Havens for PlayB. Water Sports Extravaganza: Adventure BeckonsC. Sunset Strolls: Nature’s Spectacle3. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: Where Learning Comes to LifeA. Interactive Discovery Pavilion: Hands-On ExplorationB. Dioramas and Exhibits: A Visual FeastC. Educational Programs: Nurturing Young Scientists4. Chase Palm Park: Whimsy by the WaterfrontA. Whimsical Carousel: A Nostalgic RideB. Playgrounds and Picnic Areas: Family Bonding SpacesC. Walking Paths: Scenic Strolls by the Sea5. Rent Bikes: Wheels of ExplorationA. Bike Rental Shops: Convenient OptionsB. Scenic Routes: Nature Unfolds Before YouC. Family-Friendly Trails: Adventures for All Ages6. Moxi, The Incredible Wolf Museum: Science Meets FunA. Hands-On Exhibits: Unleashing CuriosityB. Innovation Workshop: Nurturing Young InventorsC. Science Nights: Family Bonding Under the Stars7. Stearns Wharf: Iconic Landmark by the SeaA. Seafood Delights: Culinary ExplorationB. Coastal Views: A Photographer’s ParadiseC. Marine Exploration: Touch Tanks and More8. Kids World: Enchanting Playground ParadiseA. Castle of Dreams: Royalty in PlayB. Adventure Zones: Playful ExplorationC. Community Gathering: Playdates and Picnics9. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: Nature’s ClassroomA. Family-Friendly Hikes: Exploring the OutdoorsB. Educational Programs: Botanical LearningC. Tranquil Gardens: Relaxation Amidst Beauty10. Lil’ Toot Taxi: Nautical Adventures for the FamilyA. Harbor Exploration: Coastal Beauty UnveiledB. Sea Lions and Dolphins: Marine CompanionsC. Family-Friendly Atmosphere: Fun for Everyone11. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum: History Unveiled by the SeaA. Historical Exhibits: Sail Through TimeB. Interactive Displays: Hands-On DiscoveryC. Artifacts and Artefacts: Treasures of the Sea12. Whale Watching: Majestic Encounters at SeaA. Guided Tours: Expert InsightsB. Seasonal Variations: Nature’s SpectacleC. Family Bonding: Shared WonderSanta Barbara’s Family-Friendly VibeA. A Tapestry of Nature and CultureB. Educational Adventures with a Fun TwistCreating Lasting Family MemoriesA. The Magic of Shared ExperiencesB. Inspiring More AdventuresConclusion: The American Riviera BeckonsFAQs and Travel TipsFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs)Q1: Is Santa Barbara a suitable destination for families with kids?Q2: What is the best time to visit Santa Barbara with kids?Q3: Are the attractions mentioned suitable for all age groups?Q4: Are there any budget-friendly options for families in Santa Barbara?Q5: Are there accommodations suitable for families in Santa Barbara?Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Family TripTip 1: Plan AheadTip 2: Pack ComfortablyTip 3: Explore Local CuisineTip 4: Take Advantage of Outdoor ActivitiesTip 5: Check for Family DiscountsTip 6: Be Weather-ReadyTip 7: Capture the Moments

Santa Barbara, also known as the American Riviera, is a paradise for families seeking a memorable getaway. Nestled in central California, this charming city boasts a myriad of attractions that promise to make your family trip not only successful but also filled with wonder. From lush landscapes to stunning coastlines, pristine beaches, captivating , and more, Santa Barbara exceeds expectations. In this blog, we delve into the twelve amazing things to do in Santa Barbara with kids, ensuring your tour is not only long-lasting but also an inspiration for more adventures in life.

Santa Barbara's allure lies not only in its scenic beauty but also in the diverse range of activities it offers for families. Now that we've outlined the top twelve attractions, let's delve into each one more deeply.

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1. Santa Barbara Zoo: A Wild Encounter

Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is not just a zoo; it's a wild adventure waiting to unfold. Nestled between the and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the zoo provides a unique setting for visitors of all ages. As you enter, the captivating sounds of exotic animals beckon, setting the stage for a day filled with discovery.

A. Interactive Exhibits: Education Through Engagement

One of the highlights of the Santa Barbara Zoo is its commitment to education through engagement. Interactive exhibits allow children to get up close and personal with various species, fostering a sense of appreciation for wildlife conservation. From feeding giraffes to observing playful primates, every corner of the zoo is designed to ignite curiosity.

Santa Barbara Zoo

B. Behind-the-Scenes Adventures: A VIP Experience

For families seeking a more immersive experience, the zoo offers behind-the-scenes adventures. Imagine your child's delight as they go behind the barriers to meet zookeepers, feed animals, and learn about the daily care routines. It's a VIP experience that creates lasting memories.

C. Conservation Initiatives: Making a Difference

Beyond entertainment, the Santa Barbara Zoo is actively involved in conservation initiatives. Families can participate in educational programs that highlight the importance of protecting endangered species. It's a chance for children to become environmental stewards, understanding their role in preserving the planet.

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2. Visit Beach: Sun, Sand, and Smiles

Santa Barbara California Beach

Santa Barbara's beaches are more than just stretches of sand—they're vibrant hubs of activity and relaxation. Whether you're a family of beach enthusiasts or looking for a serene spot to unwind, the options are aplenty.

A. Beaches: Safe Havens for Play

Certain beaches in Santa Barbara are specifically tailored for families. With gentle waves and lifeguard supervision, these beaches provide a safe haven for children to splash in the surf or build sandcastles. East Beach, with its playgrounds and picnic areas, is a popular choice for families.

Santa Barbara California Beach

B. Water Sports Extravaganza: Adventure Beckons

For families seeking a bit more excitement, Santa Barbara's beaches offer a plethora of water sports. From paddleboarding to kayaking, children and parents can embark on aquatic adventures together. It's a fantastic way to bond while enjoying the sun and sea.

C. Sunset Strolls: Nature's Spectacle

As the day winds down, treat your family to a mesmerizing sunset stroll along the beach. The hues of the setting sun casting a warm glow on the ocean create a picturesque backdrop for family moments. It's a simple yet magical way to end a day in Santa Barbara.

3. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History: Where Learning Comes to Life

Santa Barbara Museum Of Natural History

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a treasure trove of knowledge, blending education with entertainment. Step into a world where science meets imagination, offering a range of exhibits that cater to various age groups.

A. Interactive Discovery Pavilion: Hands-On Exploration

The Interactive Discovery Pavilion is a haven for curious young minds. Hands-on exhibits allow children to touch, feel, and interact with scientific principles. From exploring rock formations to understanding the concept of gravity, it's a playful journey into the wonders of the natural world.

B. Dioramas and Exhibits: A Visual Feast

The museum's dioramas and exhibits transport visitors to different ecosystems and time periods. From prehistoric creatures to local flora and fauna, each display is a visual feast. It's an opportunity for children to expand their knowledge while being surrounded by the beauty of the natural world.

C. Educational Programs: Nurturing Young Scientists

In addition to static exhibits, the museum offers educational programs designed to nurture young scientists. Workshops, guided tours, and interactive sessions provide an in-depth understanding of various scientific disciplines. It's an immersive experience that goes beyond traditional museum visits.

4. Chase Palm Park: Whimsy by the Waterfront

Chase Palm Park

Chase Palm Park, nestled along the waterfront, is a splendid destination for families seeking both relaxation and recreation. This expansive park offers a delightful mix of green spaces, recreational facilities, and scenic views of the ocean.

At the heart of Chase Palm Park is a whimsical carousel, a timeless attraction that brings joy to both young and old. Let your kids pick their favorite animal to ride as the carousel spins, creating moments of pure delight. It's a nostalgic experience that adds a touch of magic to your family day out.

B. Playgrounds and Picnic Areas: Family Bonding Spaces

The park features well-equipped playgrounds for children to climb, swing, and play. With picnic areas scattered throughout, it's the perfect setting for a family lunch amidst the natural beauty of Santa Barbara. Take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a game of frisbee on the grassy expanses.

C. Walking Paths: Scenic Strolls by the Sea

Chase Palm Park's walking paths meander along the waterfront, offering stunning views of the ocean. Take a leisurely stroll with your family, breathe in the fresh sea air, and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings. It's a peaceful escape within the heart of Santa Barbara.

5. Rent Bikes: Wheels of Exploration

Rent Bikes In Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara's scenic beauty extends beyond its central attractions, and one of the best ways to explore it is by renting bikes. This and family-friendly activity allows you to cover more ground while enjoying the outdoors.

A. Bike Rental Shops: Convenient Options

Santa Barbara boasts numerous bike rental shops catering to families. Choose from a variety of bikes, including tandem bikes for parent-child adventures. Explore the city's bike-friendly trails, parks, and beachside paths, creating lasting memories while staying active.

B. Scenic Routes: Nature Unfolds Before You

Pedal your way through scenic routes that showcase the diverse landscapes of Santa Barbara. From coastal trails with ocean views to tree-lined paths in parks, each route unfolds a different facet of the city's natural beauty. It's a refreshing and healthy way to bond with your family.

C. Family-Friendly Trails: Adventures for All Ages

Santa Barbara offers family-friendly biking trails suitable for all skill levels. Whether you're cycling along the beach or through botanical gardens, these trails ensure that every family member can participate in the two-wheeled adventure. Embrace the joy of exploration on your family bike ride.

6. Moxi, The Incredible Wolf Museum: Science Meets Fun

Moxi, The Incredible Wolf Museum 

Moxi, The Incredible Wolf Museum, stands as a testament to the belief that science can be both educational and entertaining. This interactive science museum captivates children with hands-on exhibits that make learning a thrilling experience.

A. Hands-On Exhibits: Unleashing Curiosity

Moxi's hands-on exhibits cover a range of scientific principles, from physics to biology. Children can experiment with interactive displays, fostering a sense of curiosity and discovery. It's a place where the line between learning and play blurs, creating an engaging environment.

B. Innovation Workshop: Nurturing Young Inventors

The museum's innovation workshop provides a space for young minds to unleash their creativity. From building simple machines to experimenting with basic chemistry, children can engage in activities that inspire innovation. It's an opportunity for budding inventors to explore their potential.

C. Science Nights: Family Bonding Under the Stars

Moxi hosts special science nights where families can enjoy after-hours access to the museum. Engage in astronomy activities, explore the exhibits without crowds, and bond under the starry Santa Barbara sky. It's a unique experience that combines education with .

7. Stearns Wharf: Landmark by the Sea

Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf, the iconic landmark of Santa Barbara, extends into the Pacific Ocean, offering a captivating blend of , dining, and exploration. This historic wharf serves as a gateway to oceanic adventures and provides panoramic views of the coastline.

A. Seafood Delights: Culinary Exploration

Indulge in a culinary adventure at the various seafood restaurants and eateries on Stearns Wharf. From freshly caught fish to local specialties, the wharf's dining options cater to diverse palates. Enjoy a leisurely meal with the family while relishing the sea breeze.

B. Coastal Views: A Photographer's Paradise

Stroll along the wharf and soak in the breathtaking coastal views. Capture memorable family photos against the backdrop of the ocean, or simply revel in the serenity of the Pacific. Stearns Wharf offers a unique vantage point to appreciate Santa Barbara's beauty.

C. Marine Exploration: Touch Tanks and More

For an educational yet entertaining experience, visit the marine touch tanks and aquariums on the wharf. Children can interact with sea creatures, learning about marine life in an engaging way. It's an opportunity for hands-on exploration, making Stearns Wharf a family-friendly destination.

8. Kids World: Enchanting Playground Paradise

Kids World  Santa Barbara

Kids World, located in Alameda Park, is not just a playground—it's an enchanting paradise for children. This whimsical play area features imaginative structures, vibrant colors, and diverse play zones, providing endless entertainment for kids of all ages.

A. Castle of Dreams: Royalty in Play

At the heart of Kids World stands the Castle of Dreams, a towering structure that sparks the imagination. Children can climb, slide, and explore the castle, fostering a sense of adventure and creativity. It's a realm where every child can feel like royalty.

B. Adventure Zones: Playful Exploration

Kids World offers various adventure zones, each designed to cater to different age groups. From sandboxes to climbing structures, the playground encourages playful exploration. Parents can relax in designated seating areas while keeping a watchful eye on their little adventurers.

C. Community Gathering: Playdates and Picnics

Beyond being a play area, Kids World serves as a community gathering space. Families often come together for playdates and picnics, creating a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. It's a place where children not only have fun but also build lasting friendships.

9. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: Nature's Classroom

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden 

Escape into the tranquility of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, a haven of native plant species and serene landscapes. This botanical garden provides a unique educational experience for families, combining nature appreciation with environmental awareness.

A. Family-Friendly Hikes: Exploring the Outdoors

Embark on family-friendly hikes through the garden's scenic trails. Discover native flora, observe butterflies and birds, and learn about the importance of preserving natural habitats. The botanic garden transforms nature into a classroom, fostering a love for the environment.

B. Educational Programs: Botanical Learning

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden offers educational programs tailored for families. These programs delve into the world of botany, ecology, and conservation. Engage in hands-on activities that make learning about plants and nature enjoyable for children of all ages.

C. Tranquil Gardens: Relaxation Amidst Beauty

While the kids explore, parents can unwind in the tranquil gardens. Find peaceful spots to sit, reflect, and appreciate the beauty of native California plants. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is not just a destination; it's a rejuvenating experience for the entire family.

10. Lil' Toot Taxi: Nautical Adventures for the Family

Santa Barbara Lil' Toot Taxi 

Step aboard the Lil' Toot Taxi for a maritime adventure like no other. This charming boat tour provides a unique perspective of Santa Barbara's coastline, offering picturesque views and a delightful experience for families.

A. Harbor Exploration: Coastal Beauty Unveiled

The Lil' Toot Taxi takes your family on a journey through Santa Barbara's picturesque harbor. Marvel at the sailboats, yachts, and coastal scenery as the narrated tour unveils the history and charm of this maritime city. It's a nautical exploration suitable for all ages.

B. Sea Lions and Dolphins: Marine Companions

As you cruise along, keep an eye out for playful sea lions and dolphins. The Lil' Toot Taxi often encounters these marine companions, creating exciting moments for children and adults alike. The close proximity to wildlife adds an element of adventure to the boat tour.

C. Family-Friendly Atmosphere: Fun for Everyone

The Lil' Toot Taxi ensures a family-friendly atmosphere. Comfortable seating, engaging commentary, and the gentle sea breeze make this boat tour an enjoyable experience for everyone. It's a chance for the whole family to bond while surrounded by the beauty of the ocean.

11. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum: History Unveiled by the Sea

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum 

Immerse your family in the rich maritime history of Santa Barbara at the Maritime Museum. Located on the waterfront, this museum offers a fascinating journey through seafaring tales, interactive exhibits, and a deeper understanding of the city's coastal heritage.

A. Historical Exhibits: Sail Through Time

Explore the museum's historical exhibits that showcase Santa Barbara's maritime evolution. From the Chumash Indians to the Spanish explorers, each display unveils a chapter in the city's seafaring history. It's a captivating journey that combines education with a sense of adventure.

B. Interactive Displays: Hands-On Discovery

The Maritime Museum is designed for hands-on discovery. Children can engage with interactive displays, try their hand at navigation, and even experience the feeling of being aboard a ship. It's an immersive way for young minds to connect with the maritime past.

C. Artifacts and Artefacts: Treasures of the Sea

The museum's collection of artifacts and artifacts from sunken ships adds a touch of mystery and intrigue. From recovered ship parts to historical documents, these treasures provide a glimpse into the maritime life of Santa Barbara. It's a fascinating exploration for the whole family.

12. Whale Watching: Majestic Encounters at Sea

Whale Watching In Santa Barbara

Conclude your family adventure in Santa Barbara with the awe-inspiring experience of whale watching. Set sail on the Pacific, where you'll encounter majestic whales in their natural habitat, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

A. Guided Tours: Expert Insights

Embark on guided whale-watching tours led by experienced naturalists. Their insights into the behavior of whales, dolphins, and other marine life enhance the experience. The tours provide a deeper understanding of these majestic creatures and their role in the ocean ecosystem.

B. Seasonal Variations: Nature's Spectacle

Santa Barbara's coastline witnesses seasonal migrations of various whale species. Depending on the time of year, you might encounter gray whales, humpback whales, or even the iconic blue whales. Each season brings a new dimension to the whale-watching experience.

C. Family Bonding: Shared Wonder

Whale watching is not just a visual spectacle; it's a shared moment of wonder for the whole family. The excitement of spotting a spout, the anticipation as a whale breaches, and the collective awe create a bonding experience that transcends generations. It's a fitting finale to your family adventure in Santa Barbara.

Now that we've uncovered the twelve amazing things to do in Santa Barbara with kids, it's time to reflect on the essence of this captivating destination. Santa Barbara, often referred to as the American Riviera, has woven a tapestry of family-friendly attractions that cater to diverse interests and age groups. Whether your family is drawn to the wild adventures at the zoo, the serene beauty of botanical gardens, or the maritime explorations along the coastline, Santa Barbara has something for everyone.

Santa Barbara's Family-Friendly Vibe

What sets Santa Barbara apart is its warm and welcoming atmosphere. The city exudes a family-friendly vibe, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The attractions we've explored are not just standalone experiences; they are threads in the fabric of Santa Barbara's identity.

A. A Tapestry of Nature and Culture

Santa Barbara seamlessly blends nature and culture, creating a tapestry that unfolds with each attraction. From the lush landscapes of the botanical garden to the maritime history unveiled at the museum, families traverse diverse realms that showcase the city's multifaceted charm.

B. Educational Adventures with a Fun Twist

Many of the attractions in Santa Barbara ingeniously combine education with entertainment. Museums like Moxi and the Maritime Museum turn learning into a thrilling adventure. The hands-on exhibits and interactive displays transform these spaces into educational playgrounds where curiosity is sparked, and knowledge is gained with a sense of wonder.

Creating Lasting Family Memories

As your family explores Santa Barbara, the goal is not just to check off a list of attractions but to create lasting memories. The laughter echoing in Kids World, the awe-inspired faces during whale watching, and the shared excitement on Lil' Toot Taxi—all these moments contribute to a treasure trove of family memories.

A. The Magic of Shared Experiences

In Santa Barbara, it's not just about the destination; it's about the journey and the shared experiences along the way. Whether you're cycling through the city on rented bikes or marveling at the sea lions together, these shared moments forge bonds that endure beyond the trip.

B. Inspiring More Adventures

Santa Barbara, with its myriad wonders, serves as an inspiration for more adventures. The city's diverse offerings, from outdoor activities to cultural explorations, instill a sense of curiosity and a desire for further exploration. Your family's adventure in Santa Barbara becomes a catalyst for more journeys and discoveries.

Conclusion: The American Riviera Beckons

In conclusion, Santa Barbara stands as a testament to the allure of the American Riviera. Its enchanting blend of natural beauty, family-friendly attractions, and a welcoming atmosphere creates an ideal setting for unforgettable experiences. Whether you're captivated by the vibrant life at the zoo or entranced by the coastal wonders during whale watching, Santa Barbara beckons families to savor the magic of the moment.

FAQs and Travel Tips

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Is Santa Barbara a suitable destination for families with kids?

A1: Absolutely! Santa Barbara is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere and a plethora of attractions tailored for kids of all ages.

Q2: What is the best time to visit Santa Barbara with kids?

A2: The weather in Santa Barbara is generally pleasant throughout the year. However, spring and fall are particularly beautiful, offering a balance of comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds.

Q3: Are the attractions mentioned suitable for all age groups?

A3: Yes, the outlined attractions cater to a wide range of age groups. Whether you have toddlers or teenagers, Santa Barbara provides experiences that resonate with every family member.

Q4: Are there any budget-friendly options for families in Santa Barbara?

A4: Certainly! Many of the outdoor activities, such as beach visits and exploring parks, are budget-friendly. Additionally, some attractions offer discounted or free admission for children.

Q5: Are there accommodations suitable for families in Santa Barbara?

A5: Yes, Santa Barbara offers a variety of family-friendly accommodations, including resorts, , and vacation rentals. It's advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Family Trip

Tip 1: Plan Ahead

Santa Barbara has a wealth of attractions, so plan your itinerary in advance. This ensures that you make the most of your time and don't miss out on any must-see spots.

Tip 2: Pack Comfortably

Given the city's outdoor-centric lifestyle, pack comfortable clothing, sunscreen, and essentials for outdoor activities. Don't forget to bring swimwear for beach days!

Tip 3: Explore Local

Santa Barbara boasts a diverse culinary scene. Encourage your kids to try local delicacies, and explore family-friendly restaurants for a taste of the city's flavors.

Tip 4: Take Advantage of Outdoor Activities

With its stunning landscapes, Santa Barbara is an outdoor enthusiast's dream. Rent bikes, go hiking, or enjoy a family picnic in one of the many parks.

Tip 5: Check for Family Discounts

Many attractions offer family discounts or special packages. Check the websites of the places you plan to visit for any ongoing promotions that could save you money.

Tip 6: Be Weather-Ready

While the weather in Santa Barbara is generally mild, it's wise to check the forecast before your trip. Pack accordingly, especially if you plan outdoor activities.

Tip 7: Capture the Moments

Santa Barbara is full of picturesque spots. Bring a camera or use your smartphone to capture the beautiful moments with your family.

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Upendra Yadav is a seasoned Data Analyst with a passion for exploring new places and immersing himself in different cultures. With a curious mind and an eye for detail, Upendra delves deep into the history, people, and cuisine of the places he visits, and brings his experiences to life through his writing.. His work has been featured in various travel blogs, where he shares his insights and recommendations for fellow explorers. Through his writing, Upendra aims to inspire others to venture beyond their comfort zones and discover the hidden gems of the world. When he's not analyzing data or traveling to new destinations, Upendra can be found indulging in his other hobbies, such as photography and trying out new recipes. He is currently working on his next travelogue, where he hopes to take his readers on a journey to even more exciting and lesser-known destinations.