Things to Do in Santa Barbara This Weekend

"I hope the weather will be nice while we're there," she said as she zipped up her overnight bag. 
He walked towards her and picked up the bag, "That's it?" he asked, puzzled as she typically overpacks.
"Yes, that's it. I don't care about what I wear this weekend. I just want to relax and not have to worry about anything. It's been a long ass week." She replied, following him out to their Volvo
"Next stop, The Goodland!" he yelled, shifting the car in gear. 

Located just a couple hours away from LA is Santa Barbara, a city on the central California coast, with the Santa Ynez Mountains as dramatic backdrop. It's been recognized on Instagram by many, as you can't miss the Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings. 

With plenty of fun outdoor activities, countless places to eat, and vibrants art scenes to snap photos of, Santa Barbara is never a bad idea for a weekend getaway.

So enjoy the short drive (approx. 2 hours from LA), take in the gorgeous ocean views during the ride, and pick and choose what you want to do with the suggestions provided below.

Tip: For a great pick me up (coffee, snacks, and a quick bite), stop by Rebar Coffee

1. Bike by the Beach

Wheel Fun Rentals

With summer in full force, why not enjoy a bike ride by the beach? 

Wheel Fun Rentals of Santa Barbara has quite a few fun options for you and the family, ranging from bicycles to surreys. I always love an afternoon ride and the path next to Wheel Fun Rentals is quite a stretch, allowing you to enjoy the scenic views for at least an hour. 

Hours vary by season, however in the summer they are open until 9PM so I suggest riding either right before dinner to catch the sunset or afterwards to work off that meal. 

Note: you must be 18+ to rent. No reservations required. For more info, visit Wheel Fun Rentals.

2. Go Whale Watching

Santa Barbara Sailing Center

Looking for some whale action? Hop on board with the Santa Barbara Sailing Center for their whale watching cruises.

We had a rockin' good time (literally) while we were on the one-hour cruise. The waves were a little harsh the day we sailed, but the crew made sure to give us a great time on the catamaran nonetheless. Even though we didn't get to see any whales during this trip, we did see a handful of cute seals and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. 

Drinks and snacks are available for purchase on board, along with blankets for those who get cold. Reservations are required, but college students with valid ID can receive a special discounted rate on Monday-Thursday cruises (restrictions apply and can be found here).

Sunglasses:  ZeroUV

Sunglasses: ZeroUV

3. Check Out the Old Mission 

Santa Barbara

4. Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo

500 animals, 30 acres

Yes, Santa Barbara has a zoo!

Featuring 500 animals, the Santa Barbara Zoo includes attractions such as a feeding the giraffes, a climbing wall, art exhibits, and more. 

In addition, the Santa Barbar Zoo hosts monthly events that educate the general public on animal care and conservation.

Parking is about $12-18 (if I remember correctly) and tickets can be purchased on site. The Santa BarbaraZoo is not as big as the San Diego Zoo, however you'll spend a good hour and half here at minimum (depending on how hot it is).

5. Hike at the Botanic Garden

A Historic Landmark

Looking for a good hike? Try the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

73 acres of variety to explore ranging from canyons to trails that you can spend most of the day hiking. There's also an authentic Japanese Teahouse with tea classes offered, although the Teahouse is only open every second Saturday of the month between 11am to 1pm.

I was actually very intrigued at the landscape of this garden, as many of the botanic gardens I've visited were filled with flower fields - not forests or desert. While there is a meadow with flowers, the majority of the garden is filled with trees, a couple of waterfalls, and most people there were in hiking attire. So, if you're looking for a good way to work off all the food you ate, come here. 

6. Play at the MOXI Museum

The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

To be a kid again, oh wait - you can at the MOXI!

All judgements aside once you step into the MOXI, as you'll be intrigued by the exhibits and hands-on activities. From creating sound tracks to building your own race car, this place is for the child in you. I was really surprised by how much fun I had, after all when you think museum, you typically think of an afternoon spent gawking at art pieces you can't touch or use flash photography on - but not here! 

We didn't get to spend enough time at the MOXI and definitely have this on our list to return back to the next time we're in SB.

Huge thanks to the tourism bureau of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Car Free for helping us put our itinerary together!

Until next time Santa Barbara!

Until next time Santa Barbara!