fun to do kids beaches santa barbara california   Travel for Kids
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Santa Barbara - Beaches

The central beach area is East Beach and West Beach, with Stearns Wharf in the middle. The flat sand beaches are bordered by a promenade, grassy areas, palm trees, so bring your beach toys, umbrellas and beach chairs. Kids will have fun swimming and playing at the beach, but also keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales that come close to shore, and brown pelicans, swooping over the waves and gathering in groups for “pelican parties” at the ocean.
    Santa Barbara Zoo – This charming zoo is perfect for younger kids (we had a great time here when the kids were 3 and 5). There are exhibits of animals native to California, such as the Channel Island fox, bald eagles and California Condor, as well as giraffes, elephants, gorillas, snow leopards, and tropical aviary. Little kids have a fun time riding the cute train that goes around the zoo, and feeding sheep at the barnyard.

Chase Palm Park (East Beach) – Super beach-side park with carousel, playground, picnic tables, snack bar and plenty of grassy areas.


Rent bikes – The Santa Barbara bike path goes all along East Beach and West Beach, and continues west along the coast to Shoreline Park. Rent four-wheel surreys and bikes, including kids’ bikes at Wheel Fun Rentals on E. Cabrillo at State St. (This is also a place to rent boogie boards and beach chairs).


Stearns Wharf -

    Sea Center – Discover marine life in ocean around Santa Barbara. Check out a full size model of a gray whale mom and baby, listen to whale and seal sounds, feel sea stars in the touch pools, test water samples and learn about oceanography.
    Water taxi – Take a charming, pint-sized boat ride from Stearns Wharf across to the marina. On the cute yellow water taxi, Lil’ Toot, kids can even help steer the boat. Take the boat round trip, or walk back around the marina and harbor.
      Sunset cruises - In the evening, there are 45 min. sunset cruises. Take Lil’ Toot, or there’s also Pirate Cruises (boat has a cool pirate flag).

Whale watching trips - The Santa Barbara Channel is super for whale watching – in winter (Dec. – March) , there are gray whales in migration, at other times of year, you can see humpback whales and blue whales (off Santa Barbara is one of the best places to see the blue whales). On a cruise, you'll also see sea lions, elephant seals, and dolphins. Check out the schedule and boats for whale watching cruises at Stearns Wharf or the marina.


Shoreline Park (Shoreline Dr.) – This park, on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, is a perfect place to bring your binoculars to look for gray whales (migration is in the winter). There’s also picnic tables and a playground close to the park.

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