Saturday, December 23, 2017

Oak Park Buellton

Oak Park in Buellton is a fun little park. It is smaller than Riverview Park, but it has a 3 story play structure with so many parts. There is a 2-5 play structure with 2 simple slides and a climbing area as well as a 5-12 play structure with 4 slides (including a twisty 3 story one), 3 tunnels and climbing areas over wood chips. There is also a toddler and accessible swing.

Directions: From Goleta, take 101N to the 246. After turning left onto the 246, continue just over a mile and turn right onto Sycamore Dr. The park is on the left.

There are a fun variety of things on the play structures.
Parking is close and easy.
Bathrooms are closeby.

It is right next to a road (a quiet one, but not great for those little runners).
Those willing to make a drive might be drawn to Riverview Park or Sunnyfields. The structures are smaller


2-5 Play Structure

2-5 Play Structure (Back)

5-12 Play Structure

5-12 Play Structure (Front) 

5-12 Play Structure (Side) 


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Indoor Play Areas

Rockin Kids now Kidaru
Santa Barbara and Goleta have so many great outdoor play areas. We are so blessed! But once in a while, we have to play indoors because of the rain (or smoke from a fire). There aren't a lot of options, but here are a few ideas: (Updated 12/2018)

Goleta Library
Ice in Paradise
Santa Barbara Central Library 
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Barbara Sea Center

Friday, November 24, 2017

AudioBooks for Kids

See link below 
We have spent a lot of time in the car in the past several months and it has been remarkably peaceful. I would like to say that it's because my kids are remarkably well-behaved, but that wouldn't be true. We have a list of great ideas for roadtrips but lately audiobooks are what my girls (4 and 7 at the moment) are really excited about. We have shecked many out of the library and some are so good that we have purchased the cd/audible book (*).

Books My 4 Year Old Loves:
Winnie the Pooh  and House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (read by Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Jane Horrocks, Geoffery Palmer and several other British actors) *

Curious George by H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey *

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (the old Penguin audio cassettes, transfered to CD/mp3 are great)

Pete the Cat by James Dean (we purchased several through Scholastic books) *

The Best of Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor *

Mercy Watson and the Tales from Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo

Books My 7 Year Old has loved:

The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum (read by Anne Hathaway) *

Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read by Cherry Jones)

Mr Popper's Penguins, by Richard Atwater

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Matilda, by Roald Dahl (read by Kate Winslet)

Boxcar Children series, by Gertrude Chandler Warner *

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne (We love this series, but wish a narrator was reading the stories instead of the author)

Need more suggestions?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

2017 Quest Update

This summer's quest was kid friendly nature walks and hikes....and life was pretty crazy this summer. My husband had a cycling accident in late June that changed the course of summer significantly. We are so thankful that he is alive and (mostly) well. So we had a much quieter and less structured summer with fewer trips and events. Thanks to many meals and childcare from friends we made it through amazingly well. I couldn't ask for a better village! For those of you that know me, I had written a bunch of posts all ready to go and they were scheduled to post already (lest you think I am WAY more capable than I am). I have only written 5(ish) posts since the accident.

We completed most of the easy nature walks and have posted them.  For many of the more challenging trails, I will do with friends and post as I can.

Nature Walks:
Botanic Gardens
Douglas Preserve
Elings Park -- Veteran's Trail
Ellwood Butterfly Preserve/Bluffs
Knapp's Castle
Lake Los Carneros
Moore Mesa
Rocky Nook Park
Tucker's Grove Trails
Carpinteria Salt Marsh Preserve
Carpinteria Bluff Nature Preserve

Short Hikes:
Arroyo Hondo Preserve *
Elings Park -- Sierra Club Trail *
Nojoqui Falls
San Antonio Creek Trail (Tucker's Grove, Kiwanas Meadow) *
San Marcos Preserve *
Stevens Park *
* Can be a short or longer hike

To Be Continued:
Cheltham/Westmont Trail
Wind Tunnels at Gaviota State Park
Lizards Mouth
Parma Park
Seven Sisters
Skofield Park
Tunnel Trail

Related Posts: Summer of the Parks 2015Summer of the Beaches 2016, Summer of the Hikes 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Rocky Nook Park Paths

Rocky Nook Park is a small park with bathrooms, one reservable picnic area and a 5-12 playground. Behind these however, there are many paths on the 19+ acres. We  love this park because of the shade, but it is also great for a nature walk. The creek is accessible for play if you want to walk down the bank.

Directions: From the 101, take Mission toward the mountains. When it ends, turn left into Laguna St and then right onto E Los Olivos St. Continue past the mission staying to the left when the road divides. The park is on your right.

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: .5 mi or what you'd like
Time: 20 minutes plus
Nearby attractions: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History  and Santa Barbara Mission
Rocky Nook Playground Review

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Birthday Freebies

So I have another birthday coming up, not a big one like last year, but a girl still needs to celebrate. Here is the list of Santa Barbara and Goleta area birthday freebies. Please let me know if you find new one (or ones that aren't valid anyone) so I can update it here! Updated March 2022.

These places will give you a freebie just based on your ID:
Summerland Beach Cafe (free breakfast)

These require signing up ahead:
American Eagle (Birthday Coupon)
Anthropologie (Birthday Coupon)
Aveda (Birthday Gift)
Banana Republic (Birthday Gift for emails)
Baskin Robbins (free small scoup)
Catalina Free Island Ride (free fare with one other paying adult)
Coldstone Creamery (free creation)
Denny's (free GrandSlam breakfast)
Dunkin Donuts (Free drink)
Habit ("Special Treat")
IHOP (free stack of Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity Pancakes)
Jack in the Box (2 free tacos)
Jersey Mike's (free sub and drink)
McDonalds (free sandwich)
Nothing Bundt Cakes (free bundlet)
Panda (exclusive offer)
Panera (free bakery item)
Pita Pit (free drink)
Redbox (free movie rental)
Rori's Artisanal Creamery (free scoup of ice cream)
Sephora (Birthday gift) 
Starbucks (free drink)
Subway (free 6 inch sub with drink purchase)
Ulta (Birthday Gift)
Wendy's ($1 off a premium combo meal)
World Market (Bithday coupon)
Yogurtland (5 oz free)

To compile this list I used these sites plus my fabulous Facebook friends!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

San Marcos Preserve

Near Highway 154 is an unimproved open space with miles of trails. One of the newer open spaces, the land was donated in 2007 and several organizations have been part of restoring the habitat. This is a very sunny path with little shade so be prepared.

Directions: From Santa Barbara, take 101 N to the 154 exit. Continue straight onto Calle Real and turn left onto 154. Take the first exit and turn left onto Cathedral Oaks. Turn right onto Via Chapperal and then left on the bridge to nowhere (Salvar Rd) and left again onto Via Gaitero.

Trail Rating: Moderate
Distance: 2.6 miles (or a shorter turn around point)
Time: 1.5 hours for the whole trail
Nearby Attractions: Tuckers Grove and La Cumbre Plaza
More Information:
Trail Map:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

El Capitan State Beach

El Capitan Beach is a state beach with camping and a day use area. There are biking and hiking trails and family events. It is a narrow, rocky beach so check the tides before you go. The parking is a short walk (down a hill) to the beach. As camping restrictions ease, it may be hard to socially distance here.

Directions: Take 101N to exit 117. Take a left onto El Capitan State Beach Rd and continue straight.

There are bathrooms and showers.
There is a small store for simple snacks. 
It is a nice beach in the off season and during the week, but does have camping traffic.

Hauling stuff back from the beach is an uphill walk.
There is a $10 daily charge for state park use or an annual Golden Poppy pass is $125 
It is a drive from Santa Barbara/Goleta (20-30 minutes).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lake Los Carneros

Near the Stow House and the South Coast Railroad Museum, there is a 25 acre Goleta open area with miles of trails and plenty of wildlife to spot. This ia a great place to feed the ducks, climb or play under trees or take an easy nature walk. It is a flat dirt trail and one of the easiest for little ones to navigate.

Directions:Take 101 N from Santa Barbara. exit Los Carneros and turn right. Go straight through the roundabout and park in the lot near the Railroad Museum. Alternately, turn right at the roundabout onto Calle Real and take the first left onto La Patera. Park near the gate.

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: 1 mile around the lake depending on the path
Time: 35 minutes
Nearby Attractions: Stow Park and Girsh Park
More Information: and

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Park Packing List

We have spent a ton of time at parks. Early on, I wrote a list of things to pack to take to parks. Now that my kids are bigger, I don't always pack so much, but I still think about it when planning a park trip. Hopefully someone will find it helpful.

Park Packing List
Water bottles
Sunblock *
Backup clothing *
Sand toys ^ *
Blanket ^ *
Balls ^
Scooters, Bikes and Helmets ^
Friends :)

* Stuff I generally keep in my car
^ Depending on the park

Monday, July 24, 2017

Douglas Preserve

The bluff area above Arroyo Burro Beach, heading towards Shoreline Park, is the Douglas Family Preserve. It is 70 acres of walking path and undeveloped natural area. Also known as the Wilcox Property (for the family that owned the land and nursery for many years), the area was purchased by the trust for Public Land in 1996 with donations from many residents and a generous donation from Michael Douglas (hence the name). For a hike, start the trail down at the Arroyo Burro Beach parking lot. For a flatter, nature walk enter at Borton Dr, Mesa School Lane or Medcliff Rd.

Directions: Take the 101N from Santa Barbara to the Las Positas Rd exit. Turn left and follow Las Positas Rd to the end. Take a right at the roundabout onto Cliff Dr. Turn left into the parking lot, following it to the end (just before you exit back onto the street). The trail is at the end of the parking lot. Another option is to stay in the roundabout to turn left onto Cliff Dr. Turn right onto Mesa Lane, then right onto Borton Drive. Follow Borton Dr to the end, parking on the street. The entrance is straight ahead.

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: 1.2 miles (or more)
Time: 45 minutes (with time for tree climbing)
Nearby Attractions: Arroyo Burro Beach, Elings Park, La Mesa Park

More information:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Shoreline Park

Shoreline Park got a face lift last month (6/2017)! We finally got a chance to visit and update the review. Because the park is well loved, most of the major elements are the same. The park overlooks Leadbetter, Thousand Steps and Mesa Lane Beaches. It has a 2-5 year old play structure with a twisty slide and double slide as well as climbing areas. It also has swings (toddler and regular), a dolphin and turtle to climb on and a new spinner. The spinner is a modern day merry-go-round with higher backs and less insurance risk. The play area has rubber under parts as well as sand.
The location is beautiful and cool on a hot day because of the proximity to the beach.
There are bathrooms nearby.
The spinner is fun and unique.

This is a popular park and it does get busy.
There is very little shade.
Parking is hard on the busy days.
Toddlers can escape between those secure looking posts.

2-5 Play Structure -- Double slide

2-5 Play Structure -- Twisty slide

2-5 Play Structure -- Picnic table

Swings, turtle and dolphin


Monday, July 17, 2017

More Mesa

More Mesa is the bluff accessible from South Patterson after it passes through the farm land becoming Shoreline Dr and evnetually Orchid Dr. There are 300 acres of walking trails and undeveloped land. The land may be devolped in the future and you can follow preservation efforts. The path past the sign marked More Mesa is overgrown, but if you follow the street up a short walk, there is an easier entrance. The bluffs overlook the ocean, so beware of getting too close. The beach below is notorious for being a nude beach.

Directions: From the 101, turn towards the ocean (south) and follow South Patterson Ave as it turns east, becoming Shoreline Dr, then south again becoming Orchid Drive. Park along the road before Orchid Dr and follow the path from there or walk up the road to enter through the gate.

As with many of our open spaces there are many entrances!

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: 2.8 mi for a loop, but shorter loops are available. The closest path to the ocean is about .5 miles.
Time: 1 hour
Nearby Attractions: Rhoads Park and University Circle Park

More Information:

Overgrown path next to the sign
Path up the street from parking

Alternate entrance
Bluffs overlook the ocean

Dirt trials