It can be hard planning a trip, especially when you have kids or pets along, so here are nine things to do in Santa Barbara with kids.
1. Santa Barbara Zoo
When looking for things to do in Santa Barbara with kids, the Santa Barbara zoo should be at the top of your list. The zoo is open daily from 9:30-5. You must purchase your tickets in advance online, as well as schedule your time of arrival. Adult admission, which is for individuals 13 and older, is $19.95, and Child Admission (2 and older) is $14.95. Infants under the age of 2 get in free.
In addition to numerous animals
there are other attractions, including the Zoo Train, Giraffe Feeding, and the Kallman Family Play Area. The Zoo Train is $5 for children of zoo members, $5.50 for adult zoo members, $6.50 general child admission, and $7 for adult general admission. Tickets must be purchased online, but can be purchased same day at the zoo.
The giraffe feeding is $8/person ($5 for members). Pro tip: They tried to turn me away even though I had already paid. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, go early and make sure this is one of the first things you do before it sells out, and they start to send people away. Granted, I went pre-COVID, so this may not be an issue, but I wouldn’t take the chance if this is important to you.
The Kallman Family Play Area is a free playground for younger kids to play on.
2. Museum of Natural History & Sea Center
The Museum of Natural History admission is free for members, and general admission is $18 for adults, $16 for teens and seniors, $12 for children aged 2-12, and free for infants under the age of 2. The museum is open 10-5 daily, except for Tuesdays. You can repurchase your tickets online for expedited entry. Masks are strongly recommended, but not required. They do require masks when interacting with staff, and they require social distancing between parties. They have both indoor and outdoor exhibits.
The Sea Center is located on Stearns Wharf. It is open 10-5 daily. Admission is free for members, $13 for adults, $11 for seniors and teens, $10 for children aged 2-12, and free for infants under 2. Please note that you can only purchase tickets at the aquarium. There are no advanced reservations.
3. Shoreline Park
Shoreline Park is a free park that has walking trails, ocean views, picnic tables, and a playground for small children. This park is really best for younger children and for adults. If you have older children, they may be less interested in this, and I would recommend choosing something else off of the Things to Do in Santa Barbara with Kids list.
4. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way, Ste 190, Santa Barbara, CA 93109. They are open 10-5 daily except for Wednesdays. Admission for adults is $8, $5 for seniors, students (with ID), and children over the age of 5. Children younger than 5 get in free, as do members. They also offer discounts to anyone with and EBT or Snap card.
5. Cabrillo Bike Path
The Cabrillo Bike Path runs from Leadbetter Beach and Shoreline Park to Butterfly Beach, a span of about 4 1/2 miles. If your family does not own their own bicycles or is not bringing them to Santa Barbara with you for any reason, you can rent bicycles for a reasonable price from Wheel Fun Rentals on 24 E Mason Street. Please note that their Cabrillo Blvd location is temporarily closed. They also offer bike tours starting at $33/person.
6. Arroyo Burro County Beach Park
Also called Hendry’s Beach by the locals, Arroyo Burro County Beach Park is known for its sandy beaches, whale watching, swimming, surfing, and surf fishing. There is also a grassy area for picnics for the kids to play.
7. War Memorial and Elings Park
A war memorial might not be something you would think would be on Things to Do in Santa Barbara with Kids list, but it’s what else is at the War Memorial at Elings Park is why this is good for kids. In an effort to reduce wild fires, there are 200 Merino sheep at the park, eating plants that can catch fire, as well as poison oak. The kids can learn about the Vietnam War and see the sheep. It is important to note that the sheep are unfortunately not always there. I recommend checking their Facebook page for updates before you go.
The park also has hiking, biking, playgrounds, paragliding, and more. There are more than 9 miles of trails and playgrounds for various ages. The park is dog friendly, but you must have purchase a membership for your dog to be off leash.
Fly Above All and Eagle Paragliding offer training courses on solo flights at the park. It looks as if the starting age to take the courses is 11 or 12 years old to any age adult, but it is not cheap. At Fly Above All, the courses are $1500 per person, and you have to purchase your own equipment, which they quote at $6000.
For Eagle Paragliding, the price is quoted between $225-$250 (weekday v weekend pricing) for a three flight minimum per person. This is a few hours course as opposed to what looks like a longer commitment with Fly Above All.
8. Kids World Park in Alameda Park
Kids World Park is a playground for kids ages 2-12. It is located downtown, in the northwest corner of Alameda Park. It is 8,000 square feet and has a castle, swings, slides, bridges, a shark, a whale, and so much more.
9. Ostrichland USA
Ostrichland USA isn’t technically located in Santa Barbara–it’s in Solvang, about an hour outside the city, but it’s well worth a day trip. You can also check out Solvang afterwards for a little taste of Dutch culture.
Ostrichland is located at 610 E Hwy 246 in Solvang, and they are open from 9-5 daily. General admission is $7, military is $5, and children $12 and under is $3. Ostrich feed is $1 per bowl. It is important to note that on busier days they do restrict feeding, so I recommend going early if feeding the ostriches is important to you.