Santa Barbara Harbor from Stearn's Wharf
Redwood groves in the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
Paso Nuevo Shopping Mall, Santa Barbara
The Goleta coastline at sunset
Outdoor adventure abounds in Santa Barbara
During Festivals, Dancers may be Spotted in Solvang
Feed the Emus at Ostrichland, Solvang
Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch
Cool off in Nojoqui Falls
Ride the Honen Street Car in Solvang
Tour Solvang by Quad
Discover Quaint Courtyards in Solvang
Relax in Hans Christian Anderson Park
Enjo the tranquility in the Santa Ynez Valley
Explore Figueroa Mountain
Bike to the Wineries in Santa Ynez Valley
Tagged "The American Riviera," this vacation destination is only a brief 1.5 hour drive from Santa Clarita. Choose from waterfront activities such as parasailing and beachcombing, or head inland to visit a miniature horse ranch, ostrich farm, and the charming Danish town of Solvang. The list of adventures is endless and we've highlighted just a few of the experiences you don't want to miss.
We've picked out a few highlights, but be sure to visit the tourism websites provided for a comprehensive list of great things to do.
Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
In the summer, week-long Zoo Camp is offered for kids from age 3 through seventh grade. Kids will learn about everything from insects to lions as they traipse around the zoo studying creatures and exploring careers of zookeepers and vets. Education Dept., 805-962-5339 Don't miss the Kiddie train and carousel.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Wander the five miles of fragrant paths that meander through sixty-five acres of California flora, with panoramic views of the Pacific. Here you'll find eight different habitats from the desert to the redwood forests.
Santa Barbara City College Lifescape Gardens
Set on a bluff overlooking the harbor lies an array of ornamental and edible plants used by students of the Environmental Horticulture Department of the college. On weekends, it is open to the public. For the most picturesque view of the South Coast, stop at the Lifescape's Chumash Point or the adjacent Castillo Overlook.
Santa Barbara Orchid Estate
Stroll through the lovely grounds of one of the world's foremost collectors and propagators of orchids. Located just 500 feet from the Pacific Ocean, visitors are always welcome.
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Adults will be intrigued by the scale model of a Santa Barbara Channel oil rig, but the kids will love the opportunity to test their knot-tying skills, play games and try on costumes in the children's discovery section of the museum. Everyone will love "driving" an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) in a tank on the outside patio.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Check out the full-size mammoth on display this summer and the skeleton of a 72-foot blue-whale. Explore one of the largest collections of Chumash material in the world, the planetarium, the Spacelab and the nature trails winding through eleven shaded acres. One day may not be enough time to discover the secrets of this interactive museum.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Every Sunday free family-oriented festivals are held offering performances of music, dance, and theatre. Kids get an opportunity to make their own masterpiece and families can tour the exhibitions, listen to stories or watch a film.
Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show
Held every Sunday along Cabrillo Blvd. East of Stearn's Wharf. About 250 Santa Barbara County residents artists display their work of original drawings, paintings, graphics, sculpture, crafts and photography. Take home an original.
Southcoast Railroad Museum
All aboard! Ride a miniature train on this 1/3 mile track around the museum grounds. Check the web site for free dates. For something truly different, provide your own power for a handcar ride offered on the third Saturday (August 16) of every month. Check out the model railroad exhibit in HO-scale and tour the 1901 depot complete with freight office and waiting room.
Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club
Spend a Sunday afternoon watching one of the oldest team sports in the world, or sign up for a polo or riding lesson.
Painted Cave-Santa Barbara State Parks
(Search: Painted Cave)
Discover the religious paintings on the walls of this sandstone cave in the hills above Santa Barbara.
Take advantage of the wonderful breezes in Shoreline Park (above Leadbetter Beach) for great kite flying. Kids can climb in the mouth of a whale or a haunted castle in Alameda Park (1400 Santa Barbara Street). Hop aboard a vintage carousel or climb on a partially submerged whale in Chase Palm Park (Cabrillo Boulevard across from East Beach).
Great Beaches for Families
East Beach, Carpinteria Beach, and Goleta Beach are said to be the best for families, offering close proximity to food, fun, parking and water.
The Sideways Tour
Follow the path of Miles & Jack in the 2004 Academy Award-winning film, Sideways.
Savor the Flavors of Santa Barbara
Choose from several different travel packages that allow you to experience Santa Barbara County through your taste buds. Seafood, wine, and fresh produce are all indigenous to the area.
Santa Barbara Pistachio Company
Take an informal tour of a real working pistachio ranch in the hills of Santa Barbara County. Stop in the restaurant for a bite to eat, then pick up some pistachios in the store to take home. Call ahead for the tour. Open weekdays. Located on Hwy 33 about 1.5 hours out of Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara Trolley Tours
Park your car for your visit and explore Santa Barbara with this fun mode of transportation. One price includes on/off privileges throughout the day. The trolley stops are convenient to shopping, dining, and attractions including Butterfly Beach, Mission Santa Barbara and Andrea Clark Bird Refuge.
Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours
Grab the family and jump into a 6-passenger jeep for a backcountry adventure of the Santa Barbara hills. You'll get a birds-eye view of Santa Barbara and an opportunity to hike through the sandstone cliffs. Your narrated tour comes complete with a professional driver, water and soft drinks, blankets, and first aid kit.
Blue Edge Parasailing
Kids as young as five love soaring through the air on this 8-10 minute ride over the Pacific. Takeoffs and landings are soft and dry. Located on Stearns Wharf. Reservations recommended but not necessary.
Spitfire Aviation, Inc.
You choose your flight path for this hour-long scenic tour-the coastline, mountains or Santa Ynez Valley. Limited to four passengers.
Everyone gets to try their hand at bass and fly fishing on Lake Cachuma with Marc Mitrany, who regularly appears on the Outdoor Channel's Worldwide Fishing Guide TV Show. Marc knows the secret coves to find those legendary large mount bass.
The skateboarder in the family will love this state-of-the-art facility. Located on Cabrillo Blvd, south of Stearns Wharf.
Santa Barbara Adventure Company
Sign the family up for a day of fun kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or surfing.
1253 Coast Village Road, Montecito
On the main drag in Montecito (near the Montecito Inn) is this delightful little cafe' serving delicious breakfast, lunch and espresso.
Chef Michael Reardon prepares the best Santa Barbara County has to offer in a relaxed and sophisticated setting. A house favorite, Ricotta Gnochi in a fresh tomato sauce melts on your palette.
Indoors you'll find a stately fireplace and gold-leafed ceiling. Yet just as lovely is the courtyard where moonlight and candlelight combine with the soothing sounds of a bubbling fountain to create the perfect romantic environment. Entree's like Seared Sea of Cortez Scallops in a sunchoke puree with wild mushrooms make this a favorite dining experience. (Now also located in Fess Parker's Wine Country Inn in Los Olivos.)
This web site will help steer you into the right direction for choosing food you love where the restaurants welcome your children. It includes great options such as Palace Grill, a Cajun favorite of Kevin Costner, Geena Davis & Michael Keaton, or California Pizza Kitchen, offering every kid's favorite food.
The newest, and only luxury boutique, hotel in Santa Barbara, it's located steps from Paseo Nuevo and serves up sophisticated yet casual dining in 31 West, offering extraordinary wine country cuisine. The rooftop pool provides views of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, and the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Four Seasons Biltmore
This exquisite resort is accessible from the south end of Montecito Village, and just completed an extensive renovation. With luxurious bedding, attentive service, and details that must be experienced, "The Biltmore" (as locals know it) is a favorite of locals for Sunday brunch or a reclusive getaway. The Spa provides a couple's retreat like none other: a private suite with a view of the Pacific Ocean, fireplace, jetted tub, treatment tables, in-suite dining, and separate bath with shower.
Circle B Guest Ranch
Are we there yet? "Yes!" will be your answer. Great fun doesn't mean you have to travel a far distance. At this ranch you can choose to stake your claim for a week in one of their beautiful cabins or just drop in for a spell and enjoy horseback riding or a family-style meal of BBQ tri tip and theatre. If you are a guest of the ranch, you're invited to do some exploring, hike the area, challenge one another to a game of billiards, or just dip into their pool. Need a massage after that long morning trail ride through the mountains and over the streams? No problem.
El Capitan Canyon
Cedar cabins supplied with plush amenities such as down duvets, Jacuzzi tubs, on-site spa services, and healthful meals (cooked by someone else) are what many tired mommies have in mind when Dad says, "Let's go camping!" The cabin is complete with a kitchenette, convenient for storing s'mores supplies to use with the private fire pit just outside the door. This property's cleanliness and attention to detail put it up there with a high-end resort hotel.
Saturday evenings will be filled with the sounds of blues, jazz or bluegrass music during El Capitan's Summer Concert Series. Sitting service is available, as are guided hikes on Sunday morning, stargazing, horseback riding, beach cruising bikes and storytelling. If something's forgotten, no problem. You can probably pick it up at the Canyon Market. All these conveniences are tucked in the Los Padres National Forest and only a five-minute walk to beautiful El Capitan State Beach. If you want tranquility, request a cabin at the far end of the campground, next to the creek.
Oh, yes. If you are looking for a more rustic approach to camping, there's always the comfy Canvas Safari Tents, but you'll have to walk to the nearby bathroom and shower facilities.
Rancho Oso Guest Ranch & Stables
Is the Circle B and El Capitan a little too plush for you? Perhaps you and the family want to rough it this summer in a covered wagon? If thatï¿½s a little too harsh, how about a cabin complete with bedding, but minus the private bath? This real west experience is not soon to be forgotten. Whether you and the kids want to hit the trails of the back country or spend the night, youï¿½re certain to bring home great memories.
Family Vacation Center
This may be something to check out if you are looking for a week long, all-inclusive getaway for the family. Children partake in activities supervised by college kids while the adults are free to explore Santa Barbara on their own or stay at the Center and enjoy grownup activities.
America's Denmark. A kid's paradise. Both are apt descriptions of the little Old World Danish Village hidden in the Santa Ynez Valley, just forty miles north of Santa Barbara. An oversized shoe, glider rides, miniature horses, ostriches, and rows of bakeries and candy shops delight the young and the young at heart. Stroll through Solvang or rent a surrey and pedal your way around town. Stop at the Visitorï¿½s Center on Mission Drive (near Olsen's Bakery) for details.
Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts
This open-air theatre is a popular attraction to visitors of Solvang.
Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch
Kid-sized horses stand contentedly behind white railings, thoroughly enjoying the attention they enjoy from kids of all ages. The ranch breeds and raises horses, but is kind enough to open to the public Thursday through Monday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Rides are not available.
805-686-9696 (no website)
Located on the way from Hwy 101 into Solvang, you'll find ostriches and emus awaiting young visitors. Emu food is available for purchase, as are ostrich eggs and feather dusters. A fun stop along the highway.
View these unique and curious animals from the Indies at the Flying V Ranch in Buellton. The one-hour tour will allow you to go inside the llama pasture and is fine for small children. There is a small fee. Call 24 hours in advance.
Choose a 15-minute scenic flight at 2500 feet or a 35-minute mile-high flight. Either way, bring your camera because in this two-seater glider you'll experience Santa Ynez Valley as the birds do. No age restrictions.
Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours
See the "Santa Barbara" section of this article.
Choose from four golf courses, three eighteen-hole or one nine-hole, all within a short distance of Solvang.
Cachuma Lake Recreation Area
805-686-5050 Reservations M-F
805-686-5055 Reservations weekends
Enjoy a guided wild life cruise aboard the 24-passenger Ofsprey, rent a motor boat or paddle boat, or do a little fishing in one of the best fishing ï¿½holesï¿½ in So. California. Because the lake is a domestic water supply, swimming or sports that include body contact with the water are not allowed. Choose from ï¿½ mile to four mile hiking trails, visit the Nature Center or camp in a Yurt. The web site offers excellent information including details on fishing and rentals.
There is much to do in Santa Maria, located in Santa Barbara County. From their website: Located in the heart of California's Central Coast, here you will discover beautiful scenery, championship golf courses, nationally recognized live theater productions, bird watching, pristine beaches, performing arts, world famous barbecue, our succulent strawberries, nearby missions, hiking, festivals, special events, and award winning wineries.
Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes: Home of the Lost City of Demille
Hollywood's version of Egyptian artifacts from Cecil B. DeMille's elaborate set for his 1923 silent epic The Ten Commandments
were unearthed in 2013 from towering coastal sand dunes and are now on display at the Dunes Center. This project took twenty-seven years to complete.
The artifacts will become part of the Dunes Center's permanent exhibit called, The Lost City of DeMille,
which currently features some small pieces of the film set that were found years ago, including a bas-relief of a pharaoh's face, a lion's paw and wooden hieroglyphs that decorated the city walls. Bits of 1920s-era litter left by the actors and film crew also make up a curious part of the exhibit.