With miles-long shorelines, beautiful landscapes, and an excellent climate, Santa Barbara is a perfect summer holiday destination for kids.
From whale-watching tours in the Pacific Ocean to getting a thrill at the pre-historic forest of the Natural History Museum, there are enough activities for kids of every age.
And whether you walk in the wild side at Santa Barbara Zoo or have fun at Arroyo Burro Beach, kids will love it all!
However, the trip isn’t just limited to the fun.
The Old Mission Building and Natural History Museum would teach your kids about the city’s history in a more engaging and interactive way.
For a more relaxed city exploration, take the 90 min trolley tour that will take you through the city’s landmarks just at $30.
Do you want to learn more?
Go through the following list of things to do in Santa Barbara with Kids to find more exciting things.
Things To Do in Santa Barbara with Kids
Have Fun at Arroyo Burro Beach
Location: 2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Cost: Free access to the beach
Best time to visit: Spring and Summer
Located just five miles away from the city center, Arroyo Burro is one of the best kids-friendly public beaches in Santa Barbara.
Young ones can swim in the coastline, build sandcastles, or fish for sea urchins, shrimp, and lobsters while you suntan under the Californian Sun.
It is even suitable for mild surfing, bodyboarding, and stand-up paddle boarding for the entire family.
You can visit the nearby Douglas Family Reserve and Elings Park to let the kids enjoy large playgrounds.
Remember to enjoy the Happy Hour menu at the on-site Boathouse Restaurant.
Whale-watching Tour in Santa Barbara Harbor
Location: 132-A Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109
Opening hours: Open daily, 7:30 am - 6:00 pm (Opens at 7:00 am on weekends)
Cost: $45 - $50 (Extre 410 for first class upgrade)
Best time to visit: May to October
From toddlers to teenagers, kids of every age will love the whale-watching tour on a cruise ride to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
You can spot dolphins, California sea lions, Seals, Sea otters, and, most specifically, migrating Pacific Gray Whales in the nutrient-rich waters of this city.
Other commonly found whale species include shy mink, fin, and humpback whales.
And if you want to get a glimpse of the Colossal Blue Whale, then make sure to visit during late spring through fall.
Tip: Book a dinner cruise for a unique dining experience while watching the whales and dolphins.
Biking on the Cabrillo Bike Path
Location: Cabrillo Beach Boulevard, Santa Barbara, CA 93109
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Cost: Free access (Bike rental charges applicable)
Best time to visit: Early mornings
Stretching out from Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara to Butterfly Beach of Montecito, the Cabrillo Bike Path is one of the scenic biking trails in the city.
Since the trail is easy and a designated route for bikers and pedestrians, it is safer to bring the kids along.
This 4.6 miles-long, flat, and paved biking trail gives access to a broader shoreline, scenic beaches, and Andree Clark Bird Refuge.
You can find more than 200 species of birds at this refuge.
Make a pause at Steran Wharf on the way and enjoy delicious seafood at one of the three restaurants on the pier with a gigantic ocean view.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
Location: 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Opening hours: Open daily, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cost: Tickets range from $11- $14 (Free for kids under 2)
Best time to visit: Early in the week
Grab the chance to have a fun-filled interaction with the marine animals at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.
You would discover wonders of ocean life, including marine creatures like specific Sea Horses, Moon Jellies, Sea Urchins, and two-spot Octopus.
The life-size model of a Gray Whale mother and her calf will certainly attract many young kids.
And for more fun, experiment with oceanographic tools at the biological research center for the sea floor inside the premises.
The center also hosts field trips, education programs, and regular exhibits of sea creatures.
Tip: Arrive early to purchase tickets, as online reservations aren’t available.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Location: 2559 Puesta del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Opening hours: Wednesday- Monday (10:00 am - 5:00 pm)
Cost: Tickets range between $14-$19
Best time to visit: Springs and Summers
For inquisitive and adventurous children, the natural history exhibit of more than 4.5 million species in the Santa Barbara Museum has so much to offer.
The animatronic dinosaurs in pre-historic forest sections attract kids more than any other. These dinos move and make noises to thrill these little devils.
You can also find a child-size cavern and a big playground to entertain toddlers and young kids.
The museum also organizes nature adventure camps and classes based on kid-centric themes like science, art, and literature. Check the website for details.
Explore the Santa Barbara Zoo
Location: 500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
Opening hours: Open daily, 9:30 am -5:00 pm
Cost: Tickets from $15- $25 ($11 for parking)
Best time to visit: Summer and Spring
Explore the wilder side of California with your kids in the Santa Barbara Zoo, a conservation site for unique native birds and animals in their natural habitat.
Not just a mere exhibit, the museum also allows a closeup interaction with the friendlier animals.
Getting to feed the giraffes is quite a highlight for the little ones.
While strolling through the beautiful gardens, you can see beautiful flamingoes, penguins, condors, and many farm animals.
And seeing the lion family with a little cub really excites the young kids.
The museum occasionally organizes zoo camps, field trips, and safari sleepovers dedicated to the adventurous little people.
Tip: Visit the nearby Wave Cafe for the kid-friendly menu.
Educate Kids about the Plants at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Location: 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Opening hours: Open daily, 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Cost: General tickets ranges from $12- $20 (Extra $3 for museums)
Best time to visit: Springs
Get wanderlust with your kids in the poppy meadows and redwood forests of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
With over 900 species of native plants preserved over an area of 78 acres, the garden gives a glimpse of 11 distinct California ecosystems.
This expansive and breathtaking botanic garden has a fairy garden with little play areas for little ones.
Make sure to reserve the place to celebrate your little monsters’ birthdays. They will love it!
Tip: Grab the photo opportunity in the beautiful backdrops inside the garden.
Enjoy Writing in the Galleries of Santa Barbara Art Museum
Location: 1130 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 931010
Opening hours: Tuesday- Saturday, 11:00 am- 5:00 pm & Thursdays, 11:00 am -8:00 pm
Cost: Tickets range from $6 - $10
Best time to visit: Early spring and fall
Let your child explore the artist in them while strolling through the phenomenal art exhibits of the ancient and modern eras at Santa Barbara Art Museum.
The museum has art classes, lectures, and educational programs dedicated to kids of all different ages.
And the free sketching in the galleries and writing on the wall is a fun experience for all, not just the kids.
You can also find fun learning activities like summer art camps, at-home activities, and storytelling sessions.
Don’t miss out on this unique experience!
Visit Susan Quinland Doll & Teddy Bear Museums and Library
Location: 122 West Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Opening hours: Friday & Saturday, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm (Sunday -Thursday by appointment only)
Cost: Regular admission ranges from $4 - $7
Best time to visit: Weekdays
Relive your childhood with your kids at the Susan Quinlan Doll and Teddy Bear Museum.
With an extensive collection of dolls and teddy bears, the museum catches the attention of young kids and toddlers.
You can find the world’s largest research library book and a rotating display of dolls and teddies in the 150 display cases.
The hand-painted wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor murals inside the building are equally jaw-dropping.
And the best thing about it is that the owner Susan Quinlan personally conducts the tours of the entire museum. Truly a rare experience!
Be Innovative at MOXI
Location: 125 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Opening hours: Open daily, 10:00 am -5:00 pm
Cost: General admission at $14- kids & $18- adults
Best time to visit: Weekdays to avoid the crowd
Fuel the curious minds of your kids with the interactive exhibit and STEAM programs of MOXI, also known as the Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation.
This museum houses the Innovation Workshop makerspace, a multipurpose Exploration Lab, an exhibit workshop space, and rotating art installations.
The engaging programs at these spots are fit for toddlers to adults as well as school teachers.
Apart from the daily programs, you can also sign up the young ones for a week-long camp and field trips.
An opportunity for your children to socialize and have fun while learning.
Tip: Check the website before visiting to find out the current activities.
Location: 15 West Gutirrez Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Opening hours: Thursday- Tuesday, 12:00 pm- 5:00 pm ( Open till 4:00 pm on Sundays)
Cost: Entry to the shop is free
Best time to visit: May- July (harvest season for Cocao)
Finding a kid who doesn’t love chocolate is not just rare but close to impossible.
And that’s why Chocolate Maya of Santa Barbara is always filled with kids of all ages.
Named after its owner, Maya Schoop-Rutten, the store itself is decorated with bonbons on the counter, and bean-to-bars lined walls.
You will discover a wide range of premium-crafted chocolates made with seasonal natural materials like fruits, nuts, herbs, and liquor.
Some of the fine picks include Caramel Ganache Dark Chocolate, Qantu Chocolate, and Siren.
Ice-Creams at Rori’s Artisanal Creamery
Location: 38 West Victoria Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Opening hours: Open daily, 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm (Opens till 10:00 pm on weekends)
Best time to visit: Summer
You don’t want to miss out on one of the finest ice cream vendors in Santa Barbara when you are in the city with kids.
This creamery is inspired by the owner, Rori Torato’s childhood memories of freshly churned icecreams made by her grandmother.
From strawberry cheesecake to fresh mint patty, you will find more than 25 flavors of ice creams that keep changing seasonally.
And not to mention the choice of toppings.
You can also buy cookies, candies, sundaes, and other different kinds of creamed delicacies to please your taste at this chocolate store.
Leave With Fun-filled Summer Memories!
Enjoy the low tides and mesmerizing sunsets on the beaches of Santa Barabara with your kids on a horseback ride.
You can also take a pause at premium beach locations like Stearns Wharf and enjoy shopping and dining.
These ocean-side restaurants will serve a variety of sea-foods along with kid-friendly snacks.
Enjoy your kid’s staycation!
Note: Keep in mind that information about travel can change quickly. To make sure your trip is fun and safe, we encourage you to double-check official websites and government/travel advisory sites for the latest information on travel restrictions, entry requirements, and safety measures.