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Outdoor Activities in Santa Barbara to Try Year-Round

With an average high in the 70s and lows that rarely dip below the 50s, Santa Barbara has some of the most mild temperatures in the country. This is great news for those who shy away from the extremes and who love being outdoors. You’ll rarely sweat in the summer or need more than a light jacket in the winter when you partake in an outdoor activity in Santa Barbara, making this the ideal place to stay active all year round. Here are some of the best outdoor activities to try no matter what the season!

Go hiking

Santa Barbara is just 26 miles from the breathtaking Santa Ynez Valley and mountain range. These mountains are a part of the Transverse Range, only one of two in the entire world that runs east to west, ending at the Gaviota Coast (the second east-to-west range is the Uinta Mountains located in Utah). Hikers who venture to the mountains can expect stunning views and challenging terrain.

If you want to stay in Santa Barbara, you’ll be treated to trails that are shaded by large trees and you can expect to glimpse white sand beaches, the gorgeous Pacific Ocean, and the mountain vistas. Some of the best places to hike include Inspiration Point, Nojoqui Falls, and the Porter Trail.

Take out a kayak

Kayaking can be enjoyed in the Santa Barbara area at any time of year. In the warmer months, you can kayak in just your swimsuit, while colder months will require a wetsuit. One of the best places in the area to kayak is Channel Islands National Park, though Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf are also good locations. Expect to see sea lions, starfish, dolphins, and maybe even a humpback whale while you’re out on the water.

Spot a whale

If you don’t see a whale while you’re kayaking, don’t worry! There are plenty of other opportunities to glimpse these majestic creatures in the Santa Barbara area. The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the best areas for whale-watching as well as other marine life like dolphins and seabirds. The best time to see a Pacific gray whale is November through April, the months when they migrate and pass through the Channel. If you’re more interested in humpback or blue whales, head to the area in the late spring through early fall. There are plenty of boat tours available that can take you out on the ocean and create a memorable whale-spotting experience.

Go for a horseback ride

There’s no better way to enjoy the beauty of Santa Barbara than from the back of a horse. Whether you want to get away to the remote backcountry, experience the breathtaking beauty of the sunset from the beach at low tide, or take an educational guided tour, you’ll find plenty of options in the area. If you want an immersive experience, book a stay at the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch and Stables. This dude ranch is just 25 minutes from downtown Santa Barbara and offers homestyle dining, spa services, and accommodations, including ranch rooms and canyon cabins. The stables welcome riders of all levels and offer rides through canyons, creeks, mountains, and more.

Have an adventure

Want an adrenaline rush? Those seeking an outdoor adventure will have plenty to choose from in Santa Barbara. Fly in the air at Santa Barbara Trapeze Co., take an expedition into the Channel Islands, learn how to surf, see the ocean from above by parasailing, or rent a stand-up paddleboard to work off some calories while enjoying the water.

Spend some time on the beach

Santa Barbara is home to miles of public beaches, each with its own personality and amenities. All the beaches are perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun, but you can also get involved in a pick-up sand volleyball game or have a picnic on East or West Beach, walk your furry friends at dog-friendly Arroyo Burro Beach, fish off the pier at Goleta Beach Park, or longboard surf at Leadbetter Beach.

Dine al fresco

There’s nothing better than dining outdoors when the weather is nice–which it almost always is in Santa Barbara! Check out Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach for waterfront dining at its finest. Boathouse serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Some lunch favorites include lobster rolls and ahi club sandwiches served with Old Bay fries, while dinner ranges from pan-seared scallops to filet mignon and grilled mahi mahi salad.

Another waterfront favorite is Shoreline Cafe, located right on Leadbetter Beach. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Shoreline has all the beachy favorites, including clam chowder, ceviche, and Baja-style tacos. They also have a popular happy hour that runs Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. and features drink specials and snacks like nachos, chowder fries, and chips and guacamole.

If you’re in the downtown area, you’ll love the patio at Loquita where you can enjoy both hot and cold Spanish tapas like Almejas (Manilla clams), Pulp (Spanish octopus), and paella. Loquita also serves delicious Spanish wines and mixed drinks.

Want something a little more casual? Claim a picnic bench on the patio at Lucky Penny, a local favorite located in the Funk Zone. Lucky Penny serves wood-fired pizza and small plates as well as a large selection of local wines and craft beers.

Enjoy your time in Santa Barbara

With its mild temperatures, beautiful scenery, and variety of activities, Santa Barbara is the perfect place to visit any time of year. Decided you’d like to live here rather than visit? Reach out to experienced Santa Barbara real estate agent Chris Palme. He can tell you more about the Santa Barbara real estate market, answer all your questions, and show you what’s currently available.

*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash


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