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9 Outdoor Activities in Santa Barbara

If you're looking for a beautiful place to enjoy outdoor activities, Santa Barbara is the perfect spot! There are endless ways to relish the scenic nature here, from swimming, relaxing, or surfing at the beach to heading inland to play golf to hiking in the city's dramatic mountains. No matter what your interests are, Santa Barbara has something to offer. If you're looking for a fun and active vacation destination or a desirable place to call home, check out this incredible Southern California town!

Stearns Wharf

One of Santa Barbara's best dining, shopping, and recreation destinations, Stearns Wharf is celebrating 150 years of fun in 2022. On the first Wednesday of every month in 2022, enjoy discounts from the Wharf's stores and live music from local bands. Visitors are welcome to fish off the Wharf for free and may visit the bait and tackle shop for additional equipment. With free parking for 90 minutes and a small charge after that, Stearns Wharf invites you to wander the pier, check out the stores, and enjoy a bite to eat, all at your leisure.

Enjoy a beach day at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park

Photo Courtesy of Santa Barbara, Arroyo Burro County Beach Park
Arroyo Burro County Beach Park is also called Hendry's Beach and is within close proximity to the best Santa Barbara real estate. The beach is popular for swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, bodyboarding, and hiking in Douglas Family Preserve. The beach is kept clean by volunteers with the South Coast Watershed Resource Center, but the nearby creek can impact the water, so be sure to check in with the lifeguard on duty to see if it is safe to swim on the day of your visit.


Long home to a thriving surf culture, Santa Barbara welcomes these dancers of the waves of all skill levels — from absolute beginners to seasoned experts. Although the main season is in the fall, the breaks at several nearby beaches offer great surfing throughout the year.

Leadbetter Beach

Leadbetter Beach has small breakers which offer great surfing conditions for beginners. The beach is also popular for kiteboarding, kite flying, and sailing.

Hammonds Beach

Just a few miles south of Santa Barbara in the coveted Montecito community, Hammonds Beach is popular for surfing and beach walking. During medium tide, the breakers provide strong waves perfect for surfing.

Campus Point Beach

Located on the campus of UCSB, Campus Point is an ideal location for beginners to learn surfing. This secluded beach is about 10 miles from Santa Barbara's best real estate.  Aside from surfing, the beach is also popular for sunbathing, biking, and birdwatching.


Santa Barbara Adventure Company

The Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers multiple services, including coastal and Channel Islands kayaking. Try the family-friendly Harbor Fun Paddle package for coastal kayaking — children must be older than 5 — or the more moderate experience level Coastline or Sunset packages. Choose between the Adventure Sea Cave, Discovery Sea Cave, or Ultimate Sea Cave package for Channel Islands tours.

Channel Islands Expeditions

Channel Islands Expeditions offers multiple kayaking packages, including the Anacapa Arches tour, which takes participants through the caves and arches of Anacapa Island. You can also choose the Santa Cruz Sea Caves option, which tours the world's biggest sea caves. The Anacapa Arches tour can also include whale watching, depending on migration patterns.

Santa Barbara Sailing Center

The Santa Barbara Sailing Center offers kayak rentals and guided tours. Rentals for single-seat kayaks cost $12 per hour or $48 for the entire day, while double-seaters cost $24 per hour or $96 per day. The guided tours lead participants along the coastline of Santa Barbara and focus on spotting local wildlife.

Play a round of golf

Santa Barbara Golf Club

Photo Courtesy of TripAdvisor
Located at 3500 Mccaw Ave, the Santa Barbara Golf Club welcomes tee time reservations by phone at 805-687-7087. Club membership costs $89 annually and offers $5 off most rates and special events. Games of nine or 18 holes may be played from sunrise to sunset with a tee reservation.

Sandpiper Golf Club

Photo Courtesy of GolfPass
Sandpiper Golf Club is open from 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily. Rates peak at $160 on weekdays and at $190 on weekends and holidays with an additional $30 for cart rental. Online reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance, and reservations by phone may be made up to one week in advance.

Glen Annie Golf Club

Located just a short drive from homes for sale in Santa Barbara, the Glen Annie Golf Club offers a championship-level course across 6,417 yards. Tee times may be reserved online. Costs vary depending on the day of the week and membership status. Membership starts at $159 monthly.

Hike the local parks

Shoreline Park

Shoreline Park is in the coveted Santa Barbara neighborhood, the Mesa, offering captivating ocean vistas, level walking paths and expansive grounds for various outdoor activities. Covering just under 1.5 miles, this trail is popular among walkers, trail runners, and dog owners who must keep their pets leashed. The trail is paved and offers lovely views of the beach.

Tangerine Falls

Named for the 100-foot waterfall at its end, the Tangerine Falls trail is challenging but only covers 2.5 miles. It is safest to follow this challenging trail between March and November but should be avoided during and after wet weather. The trail requires traversing a creek multiple times and climbing boulders, but the view of the falls is definitely worth the trek!

Santa Barbara Shores Park & Sperling Preserve at Ellwood Mesa

The Sperling Preserve Trail starts near Hollister Avenue and wanders through a ravine, past the Sandpiper Golf Course, and to the bluff top, which features sweeping views of the area. Approximately 1.75 miles from the trailhead is the eucalyptus grove, which serves as a Monarch butterfly habitat — a stunning natural wonder to behold during migration season. The Sperling Preserve trail ends shortly past the eucalyptus trees in the Santa Barbara Shores neighborhood. Take the Butterfly Preserve connector trail to loop back toward Hollister Avenue, or simply retrace your steps on the Sperling Preserve trail.

Visit local gardens

Ganna Walska Lotusland

A 37-acre garden
was established by Madame Ganna Walska — a Polish opera singer and author of Always Room at the Top. With over 3,000 plants and considered one of the best public gardens globally, it is unsurprising that reservations to visit the park are always in high demand. Garden caretakers recommend you reserve your visit at least three weeks in advance.

Admission costs $50 per adult guest, $25 per child guest between the ages of three to 17, and is free for children under two. To view the lotuses for which the garden is named, reserve a visit in July or August. The plants in bloom vary by month, so repeated visits are encouraged.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Photo Courtesy of Secret-World
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., though final admission closes at 4:30 p.m. The garden will be opening an expansion in June 2022 called The Backcountry, which aims to offer families with young children an immersive nature experience through outdoor play.

Admission runs $16 for adult visitors, $12 for visitors aged 60 or older, $10 for students who present their student ID card, and $8 for children between three and 17. The garden has been open since 1926, and portions of it have been designated as historic county landmarks, including the Mission Dam and Aqueduct, Caretakers Cottage, and more. Guests are invited to explore the sections and trails of the garden's 78 acres showcasing plants native to the state.

Visit the Zoo

Photo Courtesy of California Beaches
The Santa Barbara Zoo welcomes guests from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, but tickets must be purchased in advance online. Admission is free for children under the age of two, $14.95 for children aged 2-12, and $19.95 for all other guests. Be sure to ride the train around the zoo's perimeter or participate in the giraffe feeding at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m.! This incredible zoo boasts over 500 animals and nearly 150 species. 

Bike around town

Santa Barbara is very bicycle-friendly and recently partnered with BCycle, LLC. to implement a low-cost bike-share system throughout the city. The electric bike-share system has 80 station locations to rent a bike in Santa Barbara.

Are you ready to buy Santa Barbara real estate?

With so much to enjoy in the outdoors, Santa Barbara is an incredible place to visit and an even more incredible place to call home. If you are interested in learning more about activities in the area or about Santa Barbara homes for sale, please don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted local agent Chris Palme for expert guidance.


Chris’ seasoned counsel, local perspective and market knowledge are essential elements for accomplishing your real estate goals.

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