Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Bike Paths

We are so blessed to have an abundance of bike paths and routes to explore our town. Depending on where you are starting, you may be able to bike with minimal time on shared spaces and just stick to the bike path.

By the beach, you can explore the downtown area on bike or simply stick to the waterfront along the Cabrillo Blvd Trail. From Goleta Beach, you can take the Obern Trail connecting to the Maria Ygnacio trail or to continue on it to Modoc Rd. Or you can explore your own neighborhood in routes provided by the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition. 

Renting Bikes in Santa Barbara:

Tourist Biking Sites:

South County Maps

Neighborhood Routes:

Out Most Artistic Bike Ride July 2016

Monday, August 9, 2021

SB Picnic Spots


Santa Barbara has so many beautiful spots. You could picnic in almost any park or beach location and have a great view. One tradition we have is having a picnic with the kids on our anniversary or anniversary of our first date. My kids love asking us questions about the first date/wedding/first kiss and since all those dates fall in the summer, it is a great time for a picnic. I also friend-sourced this one. 

1. The Mission Rose Garden is a classic choice. The view of the Mission and the Spanish architecture around is classic. 

Rose Garden with the Spanish Architecture on display

Rose Garden

2. The Courthouse is one of our favorite spots. Any spot in the block would be good, but we like the grass above the Sunken Gardens. 


Sunken Gardens

3. Alice Keck Park is picturesque with the pond and the gazebo. It is easy to spread a blanket on the grass or find a bench to picnic on.  


Duck Pond

4. Stow House is another of our favorites. The house and lawn create a beautiful spot. When there is music in the summer it is especially fun to linger.

5. You absolutely can't beat the view of Franchesci Park on the Riviera. On a clear day, you can see all the way down to the water.  

Picnic tables

Franchesci View 

6. Chase Palm Park is another great spot with a grassy field for picnic blankets. With the beach across the street, the view is wonderful. 

Chase Palm Park Pond

 What is your favorite spot for a picnic? I would love to hear below or on social media! 

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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

UCSB Labyrinth Trail

The labyrinth in the lagoon at UCSB was constructed over 2 months in 2011with decomposed granite and river rocks, but it took 5 years to plan and clear all the hurdles. Campus leaders want to create a space for students to have a "quiet place on campus to be alone just to think and sort things out." Labyrinths have been used in different faith traditions as a form of meditation or prayer. Unlike a maze where there are choices between paths, the labyrinth has one path in and retraces the path back out. Overall, the path and retracing are .6 miles total. (When it reopens, we hope to visit nearby REEF in their visitor hours.)

Why it is a favorite: it is a beautiful location with sea birds flying overhead and the ocean breeze blowing

Stone Labyrinth

Location: Lagoon Island at the UCSB Lagoon

Directions: We have accessed it in two ways: walking from Goleta Beach and from lot 6.
To Goleta Beach, take the 101 to the 217. Exit at Sandspit Rd and turn left. The first right will be Goleta Beach. At the T, turn right and park at the end of the parking lot. Walk on the bike path up toward Campus taking the left hand paths to lead down to Campus Point. At Campus Point, take the path that crosses over the lagoon and head up the steps to Lagoon Island. From there it is a short walk to to the labyrinth. Head toward the right after heading up the hill. 
To Campus Point, take the 101 to the 217 to its end. At the roundabout take the second exit to Lagoon Rd. At the sign indicating authorized cars only, turn left into lot 6. Park in a coastal access space and pay the hourly fee (see below). Take the path down to Campus Point. At Campus Point, take the path that crosses over the lagoon and head up the steps to Lagoon Island. From there it is a short walk to to the labyrinth. Head toward the right after heading up the hill. 

Path to the Labyrinth

Time Spent: 30 to 90 minutes depending on the path you take to get there.

Cost: Free
Entrance to Labyrinth

Hours: Daytime

Parking: Parking at Goleta Beach is free and plentiful except on very busy summer/weekend days. Lot 6 has coastal access for $3 for 1 hour, $5 for 2 hours , $7 for 3 hours.
Lagoon Path

Nearby: Goleta Beach, Goleta Beach Playground, Campus Point, and Depressions Beach 

More info: Directions, Labyrinths around the world, and UCSB News Release  

Kid Quotes: "It was cool, Mom." 11 year old

Steps to Lagoon Island


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Monday, August 2, 2021

Oak Park Wading Pool

The Oak Park Wading Pool is a fun spot for the littles under 8. We recently took one last trip with my girl who will be 8 soon and had a great time. The pool is shallow, one side at one foot and the other 18 inches, with a water spot in the middle of the deeper end. There is always a life guard on duty (two the recent day we were there). Children need to be in a bathing suit and/or swim diaper and must be with a responsible person 18 years or older. Parents line up to enter on the hour and must exit 10 minutes before the hour for cleaning. You can get right back in line if it isn't busy. 

Deeper Side

Why it is a favorite: running under the water spout 

Location: Oak Park near the Junipero St side

Directions: Take the 101 to Mission St. Turn toward the mountains and get back onto the 101 going North. Take the next exit (Pueblo) and continue straight. Turn right onto Junipero St and park in the lot to your left. 

Time Spent: 1 hour

Cost: Free 

Hours: 12-5 daily in summer, closing August 13, 2021. 

Parking: Oak Park has a parking lot on West Junipero St. near Calle Real with limited spaces and there is some street parking.

Shallow Side

Kid Quotes: "Let's go again." 7 year old

Water Spout

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Creek Walks

I have fond memories from my childhood of exploring creeks in Santa Barbara: the Botanic Gardens, Rocky Nook Park, Tucker's Grove and Oak Park were all places we would poke around, look at bugs, find the best walking stick and get occasionally get wet. I know I have lost some of you and others are freaking out about poison oak (which I have never had), but I am a firm believer in nature play for kids. (This probably  fueled my love for nature as well as my pre-kids job as a science teacher.)  Disclaimer: only you know the conditions of any creek you may walk in. Beware of high water levels and excessive poison oak. 

My own kids love to take a creek walk or play in a park that let's them pick up rocks, sticks and examine bugs. They love the water when it is there, but they still love the dry creeks. My 7 year old especially would walk in the creek at least once a week. It isn't a power walk, but that is hardly the point. 

Why it is a favorite: I could write a thesis about this, but in short, kids need unstructured play and need the calming time in nature

Location: Many places listed in Best Parks with Outdoorsy Play Areas (Botanic GardensStevens ParkRocky Nook ParkTucker's Grove and Oak Park as well as a creek in your neighborhood. If you pay attention as you stroll near your creek, you can find access points. 

Directions: See posts above for the park directions 

Time Spent: an hour or more

Cost: Free 

Hours: Daylight

Parking: See posts above for the parking information

Nearby: Botanic GardensRocky Nook ParkStevens ParkTucker's Grove and Oak Park

More info: Creeks of SB County, Map of Major Creeks, Comprehensive Map

Kid Quotes: "Mama, when can we go on a creek walk?" 7 year old (at least once a week!)

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Monday, July 26, 2021

Ice in Paradise

Ice in Paradise out only area ice rink opened in 2015 and recently reopened after the long COVID closure.  Hockey leagues recently resumed and the ice was reservable until recently. While the skating lessons have not resumed, the public skate hours are back!!  

Why it is a favorite: Kids feel like the graceful Olympic ice skaters. 

Location: Storke Road at Santa Felicia Dr next to Girsh Park

Directions: Take the 101 to the Glen Annie/Storke Rd exit. Turn toward the ocean (and Costco) onto Glen Annie which quickly becomes Storke Rd. After crossing Hollister Ave, pass the Camino Real Marketplace and turn right onto Santa Felicia Dr. Ice in Paradise will be on your left.   

Time Spent: up to 2 hours (or more if your kids don't tire out)

Cost: $15 on the Studio Rink, $10 on the NHL Rink

NHL Rink (Main)

Hours: Weekdays
8-11, 1:30-4:30, NHL Rink $20 for the session
7:30-9:30 Studio Rink $15 for the session

Saturday and Sunday 
1:30-4:30, NHL Rink $20 for the session
7-9 NHL Rink $20 for the session (Saturday Only) 

Studio Rink 

Parking: There is a large onsite lot for free parking. 

Nearby: Girsh Park, Ellwood Butterfly Preserve, and Sands Beach

More info: Ice in Paradise Website, Ice in Paradise on Instagram and Ice in Paradise FB page  

Kid Quotes: "I don't remember how to do this!" 11 year old (said with joy)

The connected Rinkside Cafe is open 3:30pm on weekdays and 8am on weekends. Current closing times below: 

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Harbor Walk

The Santa Barbara Harbor has many attractions! One quick one is the walk out to Sandspit Beach with the Breakwater Flag project along the way. The flags represent and honor many of our town's non-profit organizations. When I told my kids this tidbit on our last visit, they tried to spot ones they knew (more than I expected). Some they spotted the logo and some they guessed from the letters. There are about 27 flags that each organization pays about $350 to fly and replace each year. 

The Harbor from the Visitor's Center

Why it is a favorite: Getting outside and down by the water 

Location: Santa Barbara Harbor

Entrance to the Harbor Walk

Directions: To the harbor, take the 101 to Castillo St and turn towards the water. Turn left at the end onto Cabrillo Blvd/Shoreline Dr. Turn left onto Harbor Way. 

Time Spent: 30  to 45 minutes

Flag Walk

Cost: Free 

Hours: No official hours 

End of the Harbor Walk

Parking: Paid parking is available in the harbor lot with $ per hour (there is a 90 minutes free lot too). 

Sandspit Beach

Kid Quotes: "We guessed a lot of the flags, Mom!" 10 year old

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