Family-Friendly Escape to Santa Barbara, California

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Advisor - Wander & Pour
Curated By

Wander & Pour

  • USA

  • California

  • Santa Barbara

  • City Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Local Travel

  • Coastal

  • Kid-friendly

  • Local Culture

Beach and pier in California.
Curator’s statement

The perfect mix of sun, sand, good food, stunning hotels and kid-friendly activities make Santa Barbara the perfect destination for young families. Always putting forth a laid-back, chill vibe California is known for, here you'll always be met by welcoming locals who can't wait to share their slice of paradise with you.

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Where to stay in Santa Barbara

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Things to do in Santa Barbara

A man hiking mountains in California in a cap.

Spend a day at the beach: Santa Barbara has amazing beaches! Local's tip: For one of the safest beaches in the world, head over to Carpinteria State Beach where you'll find locals playing beach volleyball and smashball, toddlers building sandcastles, parents tanning under umbrellas and a snow cone stand and and burger joint nearly beachside. Not interested in the beach because of the setup? No worries! Book a beach set up complete with lounge chairs, shades, table, ice chest, and all the accessories with drop off and pick up for a no fuss day. 

Wander the charming towns of Summerland, Montecito and Carpinteria: Grab the kids and head along the 101 to hit up these small towns situated on the coast for a day of lunching, elevated home decor, antiques, locally owned boutiques and wine tasting. Since they're so close to the coast, you can easily pop into the beachside playgrounds to get all the energies out. 

Explore the Funk Zone Family Style: Grab a coffee and hit up the Moxi (Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation) for hands on activities for the kids. Bake in a couple of hours to fully enjoy it and don't forget to go to the rooftop for insane views of Santa Barbara. This museum gives off major Barcelona vibes and might just be one of the prettiest exterior's we've ever seen for a kid's museum. Once you're done, walk across the street to the Funk Zone for family friendly lunch and wine tasting for the parents. 

Walk State Street: It's hard to visit Santa Barbara and not walk iconic State Street. Full of shops, boutique and chain, with locally owned restaurants throughout, it has something for everyone in the family! It's usually bustling during the summer months and if you come in August you can experience Old Spanish Days to celebrate the traditions of the city's founders. 

Go to the Santa Barbara Zoo: There's nothing quite like a zoo just steps from the ocean to make the whole family happy. Not only that, but once you leave the zoo head out onto Cabrillo Boulevard for a walk along the waterfront and stop into some of the amazing restaurants for happy hour. 

Take a hike: There's no shortage of hiking paths and trails in Santa Barbara and there's a path for every experience level and age range. Talk to your hotel concierge for their recommendations. Most hikes provide stunning unobstructed ocean views. 

Relax at your hotel: Santa Barbara's hotels and resorts are destinations themselves. With oceanfront locations like the Miramar or endless ocean views at the Ritz, you'll find yourself wanting to bake in at least one day to enjoy the amenities, be served cocktails and lunch poolside. Tip: Ask the hotel concierge about childcare services if this suits your family and book a romantic dinner at The Lark or Bouchon for an adult only evening out. 

Day Trips

If you have a rental car, head inland to the charming Danish town of Solvang. With candy stores, toy stores, antique shops, wine tasting rooms and unique eats, there's a little bit for everyone. We recommend going first thing in the morning to avoid crowds in the summer time. Check the events calendar prior to your visit to see if there are any special celebrations during your visit. Tip: if you get carsick, ask your concierge for the best route to take to avoid winding hills on your return to Santa Barbara.

Place to eat & drink in Santa Barbara

Bar stools at local Santa Barbara, California cafe.

The Funk Zone: A funky, lively area situated steps up from the beach that will give you a good taste of Santa Barbara's laid back, creative personality. Spotted with tasting rooms and breweries that often have live music and food trucks, it's an easy place for parents to kick back while keeping the kids entertained. 

Boathouse at Hendry's Beach: Great for brunch, happy hour and sunset dinner views, Hendry's is an oceanside restaurant that is both great for a date or family meal. The patio is perfect in nice weather and bring a sweater if it's on the cooler side since the restaurant is right on the beach. Tip: They don't take reservations so put your name in and head down to the beach for a walk while you wait for your table. Their happy hour is an insane deal so if you find yourself there during the week it is worth a visit! 

Shalhoobs Funk Zone Patio: The perfect spot if you're craving an elevated meal in a laid-back, relaxed environment. Situated in the Funk Zone, Shalhoobs is set up with long picnic tables and order-at-the-counter service. Snag a Hibiscus Margarita and order the ribs and wings. It's a relaxed environment with space for kids to walk around the table as you enjoy your meal at a relaxing pace. 

Santa Barbara Public Market: For when everyone is craving something different, head up state street to Santa Barbara Public Market. It's full of pop up's of some of Santa Barbara's favorited eats and is perfect for everyone to pick what they want and find a table to enjoy together. 

East Beach Tacos: Did you know there's such a thing as gourmet beachside tacos? Pair it with a batting cage and you have East Beach Tacos. A small, laid-back taco stand, blocks from the beach, it shares a parking lot and space with a batting cage, so you can get both an activity and meal in one. It's worth it to go for the tacos alone. The Batter Up, Ahi Poke, and Bahn Mi are delicious and there's kids menu doesn't disappoint. 

Advisor - Wander & Pour

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Wander & Pour

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