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A Guide to Santa Barbara’s Great Outdoors

Santa Barbara, called by some the American Riviera, is a beautiful city with lots of fun activities to enjoy. Santa Barbara is a great place to get outside. It’s also healthier for you to be outside. We are fortunate to have this great weather with not a lot of rain, and lots of time to go on hikes or go to the beach. Many places in the U.S. don’t have an ocean to swim in, and definitely less consistent weather. Below is a big list full of fun adventures to have with your friends and family. 

In Santa Barbara, there are many different beaches that you can visit; East Beach, Ledbetter, Santa Claus, Butterfly, and Campus Point. A great idea is walking along the breakwater and looking out to sea; or bring your surfboard and go surfing at Sandspit, the beach right off of the end of the breakwater. If you are walking along the pier, LongBoards, a restaurant on top of the Harbor restaurant, would be a great visit. I love this place because of the food and they let you throw your peanut shells on the floor. They have a huge barrel full of peanuts. You can also walk or bike along the bike path by the beach, or rent a surrey for just $30 to ride with your friends. On Sundays, walk through the Art Walk on the shore of East Beach. The artists that display their work on the sidewalk are comprised of a variety of talents. If you want something even more exciting, you can buy tickets for $50 for a whale watching tour or a boat ride out to the Channel Islands. On good days you could see whales, dolphins, and other sea life beneath the ocean’s surface. 

After a hot day at the beach, a great stop is McConnell’s Ice Cream. They have three different locations, and two of them are on State Street. They have all sorts of different flavors, as well as many different types of cookies. In my opinion, McConnell’s is the best ice cream place in all of Santa Barbara.

If you like drawing, the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival is held at the Mission on Memorial Day Weekend, the last Monday of May, where you can see beautiful chalk drawings and draw to your heart’s content. Grab a bag of chalk and draw anything you’d like in a square for $12. The I Madonnari is a big festival, and not only is there street painting, but also many different genres of food and a big barbecue. 

Another great place right off of Lower State Street is the Santa Barbara Rock Gym, where you can climb all over the walls with friends for $17. This is a great place to get exercise. At the Rock Gym, there are many different types of climbing that they have to offer. You can boulder, climbing without a harness, auto-belay, an automatic belaying system, and belaying, where someone belays you themselves. This Rock Gym has many different walls and routes to test your climbing skills. 

Santa Barbara is also known for its beautiful hikes all over the mountains. A great hike is Inspiration Point, a 3.5 mile hike right off of Mission Canyon. It’s a beautiful hike, with rocks and a beautiful view of Santa Barbara and Goleta at the top. For those who love the water, Hot Springs Trail is a 3.7 mile loop with lots of little pools to jump in to cool down. Don’t forget your swimsuit! Another 3.2 mile hike with many waterfalls and small pools of water to splash around in is Seven Falls. Seven Falls trail has many opportunities for rock hopping and swimming. I love this hike because there is a big creek for swimming and relaxing in. There are also many short hikes in Santa Barbara. For example, Lizard’s Mouth Trail is a short quarter mile hike with big rocks to climb on and also a really great picnic spot. If you have a free day with friends, this hike would be the perfect thing to do, even if you don’t like hiking. Pack a lunch, and hike up this short trail to see a rock that looks like a lizard’s mouth. Santa Barbara has not only short hikes, it also has long hikes. One of my all-time favorite hikes is the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. This is a 4.4 mile hike, although you don’t have to go all the way to the top. In the summer or early fall, there’s water to play in and swim in. If you can, that is. The water is freezing cold, although refreshing on some days.  Another short hike is the Rocky Pine Ridge Trail. This trail is a 1.3 mile hike that is perfect for you if you like to climb on things. Rocks, walls, anything. This hike has many rocks and trees to climb on the way up to the top. Hikes are a good way to spend a weekend at. 

Santa Barbara has many unique activities to enjoy outdoors, and many are free or low cost places. So instead of sitting on the couch, get up and go on a hike or ride a bike, or go have fun in the outdoors sun with your friends. 

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