Guide To Family-Friendly Santa Barbara, California

Play + Eat + Explore With Kids!

Santa Barbara With Kids

Just a short drive from LA, Santa Barbara is becoming quite the hub for families looking to combine gorgeous beaches, incredible food, family-friendly fun, and wine tasting! Zoos, cultural outings, gorgeous beaches, amazing shopping and more, are just a few reasons why many families flying to the USA from Asia are heading this way for a short or long holiday with the kids. Prepare to be inspired with this handy guide on one of America’s great holiday destinations.

  • STAY: Family-Friendly Hotels In Santa Barbara

    You can't miss family-friendly The Fess Parker in Santa Barbara. Located right across from the beach in the center of Santa Barbara, this hotel has a variety of rooms and suites to cater to families of all sizes, a fabulous pool to splash in, 5 restaurants, and easy access to all of the city's top attractions. It's a kid-tested and family-approved resort.


    The Fess Parker, A DoubleTree By Hilton Resort, 633 East Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, + 1 800 879 2929,


    Other Family-Friendly Hotels:


    Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara




    The Franciscan Inn

    Hotel Milo,

    The Wayfarer


    Nature Lodging Outside The City:

    El Capitan


  • DRINK: Wine Tasting With Kids In Tow!

    This town is peppered with over two dozen wine tasting rooms (with nearly all of them being kid-friendly).  Created by a group of like-minded wineries, the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail is a must and gives visitors a real taste of the many different varietals and styles crafted by some of Santa Barbara County's most renowned vineyards.  Many of the wineries are located in The Funk Zone - a groovy area where families can walk from tasting room to tasting room many of which have outdoor seating areas and colors for the kids to draw while you sip, sip, sip.


    Urban Wine Trail, You can purchase a membership card for US$150 which will give you a tasting at every winery on the trail - ideal for those looking to really get a taste of the different wines available or those staying a few days.  

    The Funk Zone


  • PLAY: Stearns Wharf + Santa Barbara Harbor

    Visit the West Coast's oldest operating wharf and one of Santa Barbara's most iconic landmarks. Rent a bike, Segway, or family (4-person) beach bike and cruise along the harbor to Stearns Wharf. Once at the wharf, you can visit one of the many seaside restos, enjoy gelato, and visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center where kids will enjoy petting live sharks and saying hello to the many fish in the aquariums. After, you can bike down to Santa Barbara Harbor where you can enjoy fresh seafood, a beer or two (for mom and dad), check out the haul of fresh fish at the market each week at the Saturday Fisherman's Market.  What's more?  You can rent a stand-up paddle board or kayak from the harbour too (a hit with older kids and teens).


    Rent Your Wheels: 

    Wheel Fun Rentals, 2 locations (23 East Cabrillo Blvd.  Open 8AM to 8PM / Open 7 Days a Week & 633 East Cabrillo Blvd. Open 9AM to 6PM / Open 7 Days a Week, +805 966 2282,


    Top Picks At Stearns Wharf:

    Stearns Wharf,

    Deep Sea Tasting Room

    The Great Pacific Ice Cream Company

    Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center


    Top Picks At Santa Barbara Harbour:

    Paddle Sports Center, Behind Maritime Museum, 117 B Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, California 93109,

    Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, California 93109,

    Sushi Go Go - cheap sushi by the sea!

    Santa Barbara Fish Market - buy fresh seafood!  Closed on Saturday.

  • PLAY: Old Mission Santa Barbara

    The Santa Barbara Mission was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786 and was the tenth of twenty-one California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. Named the "Queen of the Missions" for its distinctive twin bell towers and extraordinary beauty, the Mission offers docent - and self-led tours. Families love this cultural outing complete with history, large areas to explore, and gardens.


    Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, +805 682 4713, http://www.santabarbaramission.orgOpen daily from 9am-4:15pm. Note, if you are traveling with little ones or have a large crew, you can take the Santa Barbara Trolley Company directly to the Mission.

  • PLAY: Santa Barbara Zoo

    Home to more than 500 animals, this "green" zoo-with-a-view is set on 20-acres not far from the waterfront. Families love how easy this zoo is to navigate, the variety of animals, and the clear dedication of the zoo to preserving and conserving animals in the natural world. What's more, there are plenty of areas for perfect picnics and there is a simply awesome grass slide and petting zoo. One of the nation's best small zoo's - we agree!


    Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Ninos Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, USA, (805) 962-5339, www.sbzoo.orgYou can rent single/double strollers and wagons too for kiddos. Score!

  • EAT: Restos The Whole Family Will Enjoy!

    Get ready for some top notch grub!  Santa Barbara is well known for top restaurants, hidden gems, and of course their McConnell's Fine Ice Cream (locally made frozen goodness)!  For wood fire pizza, head to Lucky Penny and enjoy the food and the cool decor (penny covered walls!).  For Mexican food, Mesa Verde is a sure hit (and has gluten free options) and of course a local favorite, La Super Rica.  Drop by the Four Seasons for an Italian feast, a Sunday brunch,  while the kids roam the gardens by the beach - bring your camera.



    McConnell's Fine Ice Creams

    Lucky Penny

    Mesa Verde

    La Super Rica Taqueria,

    Los Agaves

    Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore


    More Family Favorites:

    Toma Restaurant and Bar, *kids menu!

    Boathouse at Hendry's Beach *breakfast on the beach



    Santa Barbara, California

    Visit Santa Barbara:




    Best times to visit:  It's always a nice time to visit Santa Barbara.  They have top weather all-year-round.  Note, summer is peak season so if you plan to visit during the summer early.

    How to get there?  Santa Barbara is 2 hours from LA (142km from LAX Airport).  Rent a car, take a train, or come by boat.  Click here for details on how to get to the city.

Want More?

Sign up for the Little Steps e-newsletter!

Travel Articles

RSVP for Guide To Family-Friendly Santa Barbara, California

Subscribe to Our Newsletter for the Latest Updates

* indicates required
Which city group would you like to receive updates and news from?

When you sign up you'll receive our newsletter packed with actionable strategies, free resources, and news.