santa barbara vacation with toddler

Things To Do In Santa Barbara With Kids | Goop

Santa Barbara is a great place to take kids! It has tons of kid-friendly activities and attractions, including parks, beaches and museums. There are also plenty of hotels, restaurants and stores that cater to families with children.

Table of Contents

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Old Mission Santa Barbara is a must-see for kids and adults alike. The mission is located just off State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, so it’s easy to find. You’ll be amazed by the beauty of this historic site—it is definitely worth a visit.

The Old Mission offers many fun activities for children, including animal encounters with horses and goats at the petting zoo. Kids love to learn about how missions were built while they explore inside this unique building.

If your family likes to get outdoors and enjoy nature together, plan ahead! Santa Barbara has plenty of parks where you can picnic or play with your kids among trees or on beaches near the oceanfront. This city has beautiful weather year-round so it’s a great place for outdoor exploration all year long!

Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a great option for kids of all ages. It’s located at the Ventura County Fairgrounds and open 9am-5pm daily, year round. With over 1,000 animals, there’s plenty to see here! Kids will love the petting zoo, train ride and carousel. Parents will appreciate the splash pad and playgrounds that are available when it’s hot outside or if you don’t want to take your toddler on a long walk through the zoo (like me!).

Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf

Located at the end of State Street, Stearns Wharf is a popular waterfront attraction with tourists and locals alike. Kids will love feeding the sea lions and riding on the carousel, while parents can enjoy shopping in one of their many shops. If you are looking for a romantic date night out with your partner, this may be the spot for you as it offers breathtaking views of our beautiful oceanfront area. The pier also offers whale watching tours so if you’re visiting during migration season in December or January, then I highly recommend checking out these tours!

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

You’ll find all kinds of kid-friendly activities at this garden, including a climbing wall and a butterfly house. If your child is interested in science, they can learn about the plants around them by touching them and even smelling them. There are also self-guided tours available, so your little one can explore on their own.

If you want to visit the Botanic Garden with your toddler (or any age), bring these items:

  • A backpack or carrier where you can keep snacks and water bottles
  • Sunscreen
  • A hat (the sun gets hot!)
  • Your favorite hiking shoes or sneakers! You’ll be enjoying yourself so much that you probably won’t even notice how far away from home you’ve gotten!

Ty Warner Sea Center

Ty Warner Sea Center is an incredible educational resource for anyone interested in learning more about our oceans. Located next to the Santa Barbara Harbor, Ty Warner Sea Center offers tours of its aquarium and tide pool, as well as boat tours that take you out into the open ocean to see whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine life. You can also learn about the environment by visiting one of their many exhibits on topics such as climate change and ocean acidification (which can have a major impact on marine life).

If you are traveling with children who enjoy animals or want to learn more about them yourself then this attraction is perfect for a day trip from Santa Barbara!

Kids World Family Fun Center

Kids World Family Fun Center is the perfect place for you and your kids. Located in Santa Barbara, this fun center offers a host of activities on their three-acre site, including roller skating, mini golf and batting cages. The park’s staff will help your children choose between these options based on their skill level, with no need to bring any equipment yourself. Kids World also hosts birthday parties and other special events; if you have a group of kids who are not used to spending time at the beach but would like to try something new, this can be a great option for them!

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

Location: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Price: $7 adults; $5 children under 12 years old; free for children under 2 years old and museum members

Age limit: All ages are welcome at this family-friendly museum. It’s a great place to take your preschooler or toddler! If they’re younger than 5 years old, they will probably want to be carried around the exhibits by an adult because there aren’t many places where they can sit down comfortably—and that’s okay! You’ll get some exercise while exploring this fun museum, too!

What to expect at the Sea Center? Kids love seeing all kinds of interesting creatures up close—from sharks to octopuses—and learning about them from trained educators who can answer any questions your child might have about these animals’ habitats or behaviors. There are lots of hands-on activities as well as interactive exhibits where kids can learn about conservation efforts around the world (like saving endangered whales). You’ll also find plenty of engaging things for adults including classes ranging from “Underwater Photographic Techniques” (with professional photographers) to “Snorkel Gear 101.” A highlight is definitely going outside into their beautiful oceanfront garden where visitors can enjoy sea life right off Santa Barbara’s beachfront boardwalk! Just make sure everyone wears sunscreen because there isn’t much shade available outdoors most days during summer months unless it rains heavily enough overnight that morning clouds roll back out over coastal mountainsides.”

Leadbetter Beach Park & Surf School

With a restaurant, surf school, and access to the beach, this park is a must-visit if you want to spend the day on your feet. The park also offers public restrooms, picnic tables and barbecue grills.

Surf lessons are available for both kids and adults during the summer months. If your little one isn’t quite ready for surfing lessons yet, there are several other activities in Leadbetter Beach Park & Surf School that will keep them busy:

  • Kids’ playground with swings and slides
  • Picnic tables under shade trees
  • Restrooms with showers

If you’re looking for something with more space or an easy place to relax with your toddler after a long day of exploring Santa Barbara’s beaches, then this spot is just right for you!

Santa Barbara is a city where kids can have as much fun as the adults!

Santa Barbara is a city where kids can have as much fun as the adults! There are plenty of activities for families, restaurants that cater to youngsters and hotel options that are kid-friendly. Plus, Santa Barbara offers a beautiful backdrop for exploring nature and enjoying outdoor adventures.

If you’re planning on taking your family to Santa Barbara, consider these suggestions for making it a vacation your little ones will never forget:


Santa Barbara is a city where kids can have as much fun as the adults! There is so much to do in Santa Barbara that it can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start. However, if you’re planning a trip with your family, we hope this list helps give you some ideas on how best to spend your time here.

Leave a Comment