Santa Barbara has so much to offer both kids and adults. From our natural playgrounds (the beach and the mountains) to the many museums and exhibitions, there is plenty to do to entertain your kids while enjoying your sunny family vacation in Santa Barbara.
We’ve created this Kid’s Guide to Santa Barbara, full of our favorite kid-friendly activities, to keep your family having fun during your next visit to Santa Barbara.
A Kid’s Guide to Santa Barbara
We love MOXI because it is fun for the whole family. This science/technology/arts museum features hands-on interactive exhibits and installations that speak to curious, innovative and creative minds. Designed to encourage people of all ages to “discover, play and engage in a new way”, MOXI is a fun way for your kids (and you!) to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Nearly all visitors walk away learning something new!
Museum Hours: Daily, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Adults (13+): $16
Children (3-12): $12
Children (2 and under): Free
Locals tip: Don’t miss out on the rooftop Sky Garden for killer 360° views of Santa Barbara.
Family-Friendly Rock Climbing
Get the family adrenaline pumping and head over to the Santa Barbara Rock Gym. Bring your little ones, ages 4 and up, for some family bonding and team building. If you’re new to rock climbing, sign up for the Family Introduction to Climbing. Instructors will work with you and your kids until you are ready to belay on your own.
Cost for Family Intro to Climbing: $70 for 2 people, $20 for each additional person
Students/Youth(under 14)/Military: $15
Locals tip: Grab a post-climb breakfast hash at Dawn Patrol next door.
Beachside Bike Ride
From cruiser bikes to the Double Surrey (it fits 6 people plus 2 small children!), Wheel Fun Rentals offers bike rentals for the whole family. Located one block in from the beach and Stearns Wharf, and only a few blocks from Hotel Santa Barbra, their shop is the perfect place to rent a bike and ride down the Cabrillo Boulevard Bike Path, a designated 4.5-mile bike path which trails along the beach.
Locals tip: Hop off at the playground at Chase Palm Park or ride to Shoreline Café to kick up your feet with lovely ocean views.
Sailing in SB
Bring the entire family on a coastal cruise aboard the Double Dolphin, the Santa Barbara Sailing Center’s 50-ft catamaran. Take in views of Santa Barbara’s beautiful coastline from the water and catch a glimpse of the active sea life, including sea lions, dolphins, and whales. It’s fun for the whole family!
$45 per person (all ages).
Locals tip: Are you visiting Santa Barbara during the summer months of June, July or August? If so, consider enrolling your kids in the week-long kayak/stand up paddle camp or sailing camp at the Santa Barbara Sailing Center.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is a favorite amongst youngsters and parents alike, with 146 species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Hop on the Zoo Train that circles the perimeter of the Zoo and feed the giraffes and sheep!
Zoo Hours: Daily, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Adults (13+): $18
Children (2-12): $11
Children (2 and under): Free
Seniors (65+): $13
Locals tip: The SB Zoo is home to two Island Foxes, a species of fox which can only be found on the Channel Islands, right off the coast of SB.
Explore the great outdoors and take a trip to Lizard’s Mouth in Los Padres National Forest. We love this family-friendly hike because it is accessible for all ages. A quick ½ mile hike from the trailhead with only 25 feet of elevation gain brings you to a sandstone rock formation overlooking Santa Barbara. Your kids will be able to explore and climb the rocks at this natural playground.
Directions from Hotel Santa Barbara: Turn left out of the hotel parking lot onto Cota Street. Turn right onto Castillo Street. Turn left at Haley Street to merge onto the US 101 Northbound. Take Exit 101B for State Street toward CA-154/Cachuma Lake. Continue straight onto Calle Real. Turn right onto CA-154 W/San Marcos Pass Road for 7 miles. Turn Left onto W Camino Cielo for 11 miles until you reach the trailhead (just before the road turns to gravel). You can park along the road.
Locals tip: Look for the rock formation shaped like a lizard’s mouth, for which the trail was named.
Our Kid’s Guide to Santa Barbara is just the beginning – Santa Barbara is brimming with family friendly activities perfect for all ages. Looking for a recommendation tailored for your family? Text our 24/7 concierge at (805)448-0710 for instant recommendations. Or to book your stay at Hotel Santa Barbara, call a front desk agent at (805) 957-9300.