FREE Things to do in Santa Barbara, California With Kids

Things to do in Santa Barbara California

Santa Barbara, California is a fantastic place for families to relax and enjoy the sun and beautiful beaches while on vacation! Children will love to dig in sand and get their feet wet as they explore Santa Barbara’s coastline.  I know ours did!

santa barbara

Many of the activities in Santa Barbara are priced for family life making it a great budget friendly  city to explore.  Here are a the best of them:

Santa Barbara Courthouse:

If you are looking for outstanding design, Santa Barbara offers FREE visits to the Santa Barbara Courthouse.  With one of the most exquisite pieces of architecture in the country, there are performances and other interesting activities to keep the family engaged.   ides to the top of the courthouse to their famous clock tower “El Mirador.”  A viewing room greets you at the top where you will get breathtaking views. The tile work is interesting and historic. This is a FREE trip that you and your kids will love.

ADDRESS:  1100 Anacapa St #2, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

PHONE #:  (805) 568-3959

The Painted Cave:

These caves are FREE to explore and were created by the Chumash indigenous people of the area. The caves are a colorful and interesting experience for young people and adults alike.

ADDRESS:  Hwy 154, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

PHONE #:   (805) 733-3713

A.C Postal Rose Garden:

This amazing and serene location holds more than a thousand types of roses with views of the mountains of Santa Barbara that are absolutely spectacular. It is absolutely FREE for kids in Santa Barbara and is guaranteed to be a wonderful adventure for a family.

LOCATION:  The A.C. Postel Rose Garden is located on Plaza
Rubio between Laguna St. and Emerson Ave.

PHONE #:  805-564-5433 (Inquires made through the Parks Dept.)

Old Santa Barbara Mission: 

Often referred to as the “Queen of the Missions”, the mission is the primary cultural landmark in Santa Barbara.  This historical landmark allows families to visit for FREE but does require a small fee to take the family into the chapel.  This is one of Santa Barbara’s main attractions and is great for kids and budget friendly!

ADDRESS:  2201 Laguna St.  Santa Barbara, CA 93105

PHONE #:  (805) 682-4713

Santa Barbara City Parks:

With over 75 parks to choose from, Santa Barbara’s parks provide a great way to see the natural side of the city.   The kids can get their energy out while getting up close and personal with the flora and fauna unique to Santa Barbara’s landscape.  And you guessed it….it’s FREE!

Find one that suites you HERE

Santa Ynez Valley:

Another must see location in Santa Barbara is the Santa Ynez Valley. It holds over seventy wineries. The wineries have wine tasting and there are several golf courses there as well as places to fish, hike, and bike.

solvang california

Solvang which is Danish town known for its pastries, fine dining and shopping also has a variety of free activities. This is an adventure all families will enjoy and mom and dad can taste wine while the children fish, enjoy parks and the whole family is able to engage is hiking or fishing together.

State Street:

If you want to experience the culture and flair of Santa Barbara a fantastic place to take the family is State Street.  And don’t forget the shopping!  The State Street area can be toured by walking or by the area’s electric shuttle. The shuttle makes a stop on every block and kids will love the ride! Santa Barbara also has parades and many wonderful festivals throughout the year including the French Festival, the Harbor Festival and the Sandcastle festival. Exploring State Street is great for families and is totally FREE of charge.

Check this website for more information about Downtown Santa Barbra and State Street.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta:

One of the festivals that no one should miss while visiting Santa Barbara with kids!  The fiesta is a festival that has been taking place in Santa Barbara for eighty-five years and draws people from all over the world. Since the Santa Barbara area has such a wonderful Spanish culture the festival celebrates this with a week of dancing and music as well as art and cultural food. The fiesta is free for kids in Santa Barbara and is a deeply rich cultural experience that the whole family will find enthralling and exciting. The tourism board can inform anyone about the scheduling.

For specifics about the upcoming Old Spanish Days Fiesta check go HERE.

Alice Keck Garden:

Another exciting activity for the family that is FREE and perfect for kids is a visit to the Alice Keck Garden. This park holds a pond filled with Koi and has a gorgeous gazebo. The neighborhood around the Garden is highly engaging so make sure to interact with the locals.  Don’t be shy to ask them about their favorite places in the city!

ADDRESS:  Garden St & Arellaga St.  Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Santa Barbara Historical Museum:

If you are like us and want to learn about the history of the places you visit, you don’t want to miss the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.   This museum documents Santa Barbara from the era of the Chumash indigenous people all the way through to modern day. There are many exhibits that display the homes in the area and these change regularly.  There is a large library for kids and parents to explore (perfect for road schooling) and it is all FREE!

ADDRESS:  136 East De la Guerra Street  Santa Barbara, CA 93101

PHONE #:  (805)966-1601 ext. 108

If you aren’t as concerned with budget and want to get a beat on some other great things to do in Santa Barbara, the Chamber of Commerce in another good resource.  When we visit new places and we aren’t sure what to do, we stop by the local chamber.  The men and women that work there are often long time residents of the area and love to share what they know.  Plus they know about all the current activities happing around town.

santa barbara california

Although not all winery tours are free, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend a visit to at least one of these gems that Santa Barbara is known for.  Sanguis, is a coveted winery that creates amazing blends of the finest wines – each created by a different winemaker.  The varieties of vintage may differ, however, the finesse and quality of the vintages are always original and this winery.

A vacation in Santa Barbara, California offers beaches, mountains, parks, festivals and multi-cultural activities. It is the perfect place for a family with kids to visit for amazing and beautiful sightseeing and even some cultural education!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road












About Emily Oak

I am a Mother, a Lover, a Traveler, Entrepreneur and Blogger. I crave adventure, appreciate good leather, find old weathered wood beautiful, prefer french pressed coffee, and feel alive running in the rain (albeit at a snails pace)! I believe in living passionately, loving extravagantly, taking risks, forgiving often, and living for the audience of One. I am an introvert but you wouldn’t know that if you met me. I LOVE people.