We are having a great time on our summer vacation, and I want to share some of it with you today! Santa Barbara is such a beautiful city. Of course as with any hot vacation spot, you want to spend as much time there as you can! But sometimes only a short stay is possible. So, if you only have one day in this gorgeous place, I have some ideas for how you can get the most out of it! I have put together a tried (by me!) and true itinerary of fun activities and sightseeing spots that can be comfortably enjoyed in just one day in Santa Barbara with kids. Let’s get started!
First, let’s talk accommodations! My family and I stayed about 30 minutes away in Oxnard at the Hilton Homewood Suites. We decided to stay here because staying in Santa Barbara itself is $$$! The Hilton Homewood Suites were great because we could eat breakfast right there and be ready to start our day quickly and efficiently with a full tummy! Did I mention one of the greatest hacks to good holidays with kids is making sure there is always lots of food? Wherever you stay and however you manage it, make sure you feed those kids a good breakfast before starting out.
Visit A Kids Museum
Next, head for the Moxi Museum. We spent quite a lot of time here and the kids and the adults all loved it! There are many interactive displays and activities all centred around science and learning, and more than enough exhibits to keep you busy for a large part of the day. The great part is that your ticket allows you to have in and out privileges so you can spend some time, leave to get lunch, and then come right back!
Shopping and Eating
After you feel you’ve seen enough, I would head for the Stearns Wharf for either a picnic lunch or to check out one of the fun local restaurants (remember, keep feeding those kids!). It’s a great place to walk on the boardwalk and take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the sea and the sunshine, or you can window shop or actually shop at the touristy stores in the Waterfront District. This is a very casual, low key way to spend an afternoon! There is something for every taste and style including antiques, beautiful ceramics, boutiques, and so much more! Browse stores and get yourself some coffee or lunch at Goat Tree Coffee followed by ice cream at the famous McConnell Ice Cream!
You might find that once you’re done at the pier, it’s time to head back to your hotel and rest (and eat). However, if you have enough steam for more than these activities in one day, or if you would rather skip the museum and stay outside in the beautiful California sunshine, I’ve got some more ideas for you too.
If your family is into hiking, check out Inspiration Point in the Santa Ynez Mountains, where you can see panoramic views of the city and sea after a four or eight mile hike depending on your route. My next suggestion is the Channel Islands National Park. This chain of five islands has nothing touristy about it! All you will find in this park that has been given the nickname “The Galapagos of North America” is nature and fantastic views. And lastly, you could always participate in a whale watching excursion, so popular in this part of the world!
I hope I’ve shown you that it is entirely possible to see enough in one day in Santa Barbara with kids to really enjoy yourself! Whether you choose the indoor or outdoor options, I hope you and your family enjoy this beautiful place as much as we did. Happy exploring!
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I hope these tips help make your trip to Santa Barbara with kids more enjoyable. Read more about the other stops on our family’s journey through California: