7 Things Kids Love About Santa Barbara
We arrived in Santa Barbara after making the drive up from Santa Monica, which was just under two hours. It took us a little longer because we stopped at El Matador State Beach for a quick, picturesque beach hike (shown above). This is the #2 thing to do in Malibu, CA according to TripAdvisor and it’s on the way to Santa Barbara. So, why not? This isn’t a beach you’d want to play or layout on; but it’s gorgeous for hiking!
After arriving in Santa Barbara we stayed busy for 3 days! And we also definitely want to move here now. So here’s our top picks of things to do with kids in Santa Barbara!
Santa Barbara Zoo. This is a relatively small zoo and can easily be completed in 3-4 hours, even with a 1 year old who just started walking and doesn’t pay attention when she’s going the wrong way. There are plenty of animals to see, from giraffes to gorillas to bald eagles, and some others to feed, like sheep & goats. You will find lots of photo spots throughout, and can see the ocean in certain areas too.
State Street. This might as well be the “Magnificent Mile” of Santa Barbara with plenty of shopping & restaurants to choose from. We enjoyed walking around one night and let the girls play in one of the open squares, which was so much fun! There were quite a few homeless people, but not enough to make us feel unsafe. The street seemed to be busy during all hours of the day, as well as into the evening.
Playgrounds! We found one on the beach, which seems to be typical all over this sunny state. Take advantage of the perfect weather here and let the kids play while you soak up the scenery. We played in this one just outside the zoo until it was nap time for the girls.
A helicopter ride! If you have the money & time, Santa Barbara is a beautiful town to view from above. We had a 30 minute ride with Santa Barbara Helicopter Tours, and would do it again today! We learned a lot about the city, saw the clear water from above, and just enjoyed the ride. The girls rode too, but slept through most of it.
In ‘N Out. This isn’t necessarily specific to Santa Barbara, but still a must-do when visiting California! We love their milkshakes & fries, and of course the girls loved playing with the hats!
Santa Barbara Courthouse. From here, you’ll get amazing panoramic views of Santa Barbara without having to take flight. The elevator ride is free (donations are accepted), or you can take the stairs, and you’ll see the rolling mountains meet the crystal waters of Central California. Just be aware – This view will tempt you to move here!
Mission Santa Barbara. We came just before sunset and never actually went inside because we had so much fun on the lawn out front. There is plenty of space to run around, and a small botanical garden to the left of the building that has some beautiful views as well. It’s a dreamy place to let the kids run around while you sit and enjoy! Plus, it’s free!
Breakdown of cost in Santa Barbara:
VRBO rental house (2BR/1B on Garden St) for 3 nights: $1,345
Pack n Play & high chair rental: $78
Helicopter Tour: $400
Groceries, Diapers & Meals: $342
In ‘N Out: $13
Santa Barbara Zoo & lunch: $77
City parking fees: $17
Courthouse donation: $5
Three Day Total: $2,277