Santa Barbara, known as the “American Riviera,” offers a plethora of family-friendly activities and attractions that cater to visitors of all ages. From beautiful beaches to interactive museums, here is a curated list of the best things to do in Santa Barbara for families.
Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo
The Santa Barbara Zoo is a perfect place to spend a day with the family. This 30-acre zoo is home to over 500 animals and offers educational exhibits, interactive experiences, and beautiful gardens. Don’t miss the opportunity to feed giraffes or ride the zoo train.
Explore Stearns Wharf
Stearns Wharf is Santa Barbara’s historic wooden pier, offering stunning views of the coastline and the Santa Ynez Mountains. Take a leisurely stroll along the pier, enjoy the local shops and restaurants, or visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center to learn about marine life.
Relax at East Beach
Santa Barbara’s East Beach is a family-friendly destination with soft sand, calm waters, and plenty of amenities. Pack a picnic, rent bikes or rollerblades, and spend a day enjoying the beachfront playgrounds and volleyball courts.
Discover the MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
MOXI is an interactive science museum that engages visitors of all ages with hands-on exhibits. From building structures to exploring light and sound, this museum encourages curiosity and creativity. Kids will love the rooftop Sky Garden, equipped with a giant guitar and various interactive installations.
Enjoy the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History offers a fantastic opportunity to learn about the natural world. It features exhibits on geology, astronomy, anthropology, and the Santa Barbara region’s flora and fauna. Kids love the butterfly pavilion, where they can observe beautiful butterflies up close.
Take a Dolphin or Whale Watching Cruise
Board a boat and embark on a thrilling dolphin or whale watching cruise off the coast of Santa Barbara. Spotting these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Visit the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a peaceful and scenic oasis where visitors can explore various gardens featuring native California plants. It offers walking trails, a redwood grove, and educational programs for children. Pack a picnic and enjoy a family outing surrounded by nature.
Discover the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum celebrates Santa Barbara’s maritime heritage with exhibits on local seafaring history, marine life, and interactive displays. Children can participate in hands-on activities and learn about shipwrecks, lighthouses, and underwater exploration.
Lotusland is a stunning garden located in Montecito with unique and exotic plants from around the world. Families can take a guided tour and discover the magical landscapes and vibrant flowers. Advance reservations are required.
Go on a Trolley Tour
Hop on the Santa Barbara Trolley Tour for a fun and informative way to explore the city. The narrated tour takes you to popular attractions, including the historic Old Mission, the Santa Barbara Courthouse, and the famous Butterfly Beach.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, educational experiences, or simply relaxing on the beach, Santa Barbara has something to offer every family. Enjoy your time exploring this beautiful coastal city with your loved ones!