Scenic Santa Barbara With Kids
Santa Barbara is a beautiful destination if you are looking for a romantic getaway or for an unconventional and fun filled weekend with the family. Santa Barbara’s great weather make a family outing easy to plan. Families can walk around Sterns Wharf, spend a day at the beach, visit its eclectic arts festival, have a picnic at one of Kiddy Travel’s favorite zoos or just go shopping along State Street. There is so much to do in a weekend…your family will not get bored!
Start your fun weekend by driving to Santa Barbara from Ventura on the 101 Freeway. It is a beautiful scenic drive overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Your family will enjoy going through the many different towns such as Ventura, Mussel Shoals, Carpinteria, Summerland, where former President Clinton used to vacation in the summer, and through luxurious Cabrillo before arriving to your destination. If you feel up to it, stop at some of these towns, drive around, and take pictures. You will feel like you have driven out of State.
Families Should Know:
- Santa Barbara’s weather changes continuously, you may have a warm and sunny afternoon, but a very cool evening. So if you are planning activities with the kids all day, make sure you dress everyone in layers
- Santa Barbara is perfect for the families who enjoy walking. After parking in one of the many public parking lots, families can walk up and down State Street, get an ice cream, stop for lunch, shop at the Paris Flea Market, or just enjoy a beautiful day outside.
- Parking on the street, while inexpensive, can take a long time. Instead of waiting in the car, park in the public parking lots located parallel to State Street and enjoy your day!
- Bring lots of sunblock. Sometimes you may see fog and get fooled by the lack of sun. Avoid sun burn and bring lots of sunblock.
- If the drive to the Santa Barbara zoo’s parking seems to be congested, park in the Cabrillo East Parking lot on Ninos Drive and Cabrillo. The parking is only $3 for 3 hours or $7 dollars for all day parking.
- The Santa Barbara Zoo has a new application, the QR Code, where your phone can download a video link to watch a video of each one of the animals in the exhibit.
- If you are driving through town and would like to avoid traffic, try parallel streets to State Street such as Anacapa St. Or Garden St.
- Explore the beaches- Sit on the bluffs of Butterfly Beach (across from the Four Seasons) or Miramar Beach (at the end of San Ysidro Road), both in Montecito.
- If you just want to go for an ice cream or wonder around. Don’t forget to visit Stearns Wharf for ocean views.
- If you are a nick-nack lover or just an artist. Don’t miss the arts festival. There’s always an art exhibit or a concert any time you visit.
- Want to make it an educational day for the kids? Don’t forget to go to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History while you are there.
- Before you leave, check out one of the most open, cleanest, and inviting zoo. The kids will enjoy a day at the Santa Barbara zoo for sure!
- If you want to work out and enjoy the ocean breeze, walk the pooch, or rent a bike. Don’t forget to ride along the bird sanctuary, to the beach, to the pier, and to the zoo.
- Walk the trails at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and find a spot for the family picture of the year, bring a picnic with you, and let the kids enjoy nature.
- If your family enjoys hiking along the hillside areas, visit the Santa Barbara Hikes for trail information.
Family Friendly Restaurants to Visit
If you’re in downtown Santa Barbara definitely stop by The Palace Grill. It’s known for its lively atmosphere and serves great Cajun and Creole food. They have Blackened Filet Mignon to satisfy steak eaters and Bar-B-Q shrimp and fish to please the seafood seekers in your group.
Their service is fast. They can sit your family within 20 minutes without reservations, although reservations are encouraged when you are visiting with a large group or with hungry and tired children. Kiddy Travel loves their basket of yummy muffins of chocolate, blueberry, banana nut, and molasses. While you can see couples having a romantic meal, you can also feel their welcoming of families with children that can be noisy and yet unnoticed. During weekend nights, their staff breaks into song and invites guests to sing along to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong and many other happy songs. Don’t leave without the bread pudding dessert. It is delicious!
Cafe Buenos Aires
If you are planning to spend a good time walking and shopping, Kiddy Travel recommends you stop for an authentic Argentinian dish at Cafe Buenos Aires. They have bread with chimichurri to calm your appetite or if you want to have some of their traditional appetizers, we recommend you order corn, chicken, and beef empanadas (turnovers) while you wait for your main course meal. Some of our favorite dishes were the famous Churrasco with chimichurri salsa, Salmon De Sylvia, and the Palomilla. Kids usually love their Pasta with chicken, and their hamburgers.
Their ambience was great for families with children of all ages. You can enjoy a long visit at their courtyard, where kids can still be kids at the table or next to their water fountain while they wait. Their service was responsive and relatively fast considering that our two Kiddy Travel families, eleven people altogether, were there for lunch during a busy Saturday. But, we didn’t take our chances. We made reservations thirty minutes in advance and we were pleased that our table was ready when we arrived. We would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are craving for some Latin food or even if you are celebrating something special. Our families, and most importantly, our kids really loved it!