Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Riverview Park

Riverview Park in Buellton is a large park with 2 playgrounds and playing fields and walking paths. The lantana covers the wooden arches in spring and it's beautiful. It is only about 10 minutes from blueberry picking, 10 minutes from Solvang or 5 minutes from Ostrichland, so you can combine for a fun day trip. One playground is suitable for 5-12 and has stepping pads, a tunnel, sliding bar, spinner, rope spider web, rings, a twisty slide and a roller slide. The other playground is for 2-5 and has Rope climbing squares, a slide, spinner, and a 3 way teeter-totter. On the far side of the playground are nature paths with Native American huts, wood art and an amphitheater. It is a unique place that is worth the drive.

Directions: Take the 101N to the 246. Turn left onto 246. Turn left onto Sycamore Dr after about 1 mile. The drive from Goleta is about 35 minutes.

There are so many different kinds of play equipment. Truly if they are bored it is their fault.
There are clean bathrooms.
Parking is easy.

It is a drive from the Santa Barbara area.
It is sunny and can be very warm. It was very windy the day we were there.


Big Kid Playground

Big Kid Playground 

Big Kid Playground

Spinning Toy in the Big Kid Area

Group Area with Lantana 

Little Kid Play Area

Little Kid Play Area

Little Kid Spinner

Three Way Teeter-Totter

Nature Paths



Wood Art

Wood Art



Wood Art

Natural Spaces

Water Restraining Art

Monday, June 26, 2017

Elings Park--Veteran's Memorial Walk

Elings Park has many trails that criss-cross the southern end of the park for bikes and hikers. On the northern end is an easy, paved path of under half a mile. There are plaques by year of the people from Santa Barbara County who died in the Vietnam War. Towards the end, there is a sitting area with a large globe with plaques listing all the deaths from Santa Barbara in all wars (beginning with the Civil War). It made for great conversation with my 6 year old.

As a side note, my husband and I were trying to figure out what to do on Memorial Day to remember that many people have given their lives to ensure freedom for our country. Walking here and talking about the names or leaving flags, feels like a fitting remembrance.

Directions; Take to 101 to the Las Positas Rd off ramp. Turn toward the ocean and follow Las Positas Rd. After about 7 miles, turn left into the park onto Jerry Harwin Parkway. Follow the road to the upper parking lot and find a small road to the left (George Bliss Dr). The path is to the left at the beginning of the parking lot.

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: . 7 miles (with the return through Godric Grove)
Time:20 minutes
Nearby attractions: Elings Park Playground, and Hendry's Beach

More information:

Paved trail

Yearly Plaque

Terrace of Remembrance

Desk Area


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Parks with Shade

Escondido Park
It is hot this week. My PEP group had a whole conversation today about where to go that would actually be cool. Most parks don't have shade over the play structure (because trees create a mess on the playground), but some have shade nearby.  Here are some parks with shade for these warm days.

Rocky Nook Park
Elings Park
Bella Vista Open Space
Hidden Valley Park
Escondido Park
Eastside Neighborhood Park
Stow Grove
Stevens Park
Tucker's Grove
Wallis Park

What are your favorite spots when it is warm?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tucker's Grove Trails

Tucker's Grove has the San Antonio Creek Trail that is a longer hiking trip, but there are also several smaller trails behind the playground. Just behind the dome play structure, look for a sign that says "Trail". Head up the trail (choose the left side or you will be walking straight up the hill). If you follow the first right a flat path parallels the park and ends near the climbing structure (5 miles). If you head left, a shady trail follows the creekbed and circles back to the main path (.3 miles).

Directions:Take the 101 to the Turnpike exit. Head toward the mountains. The park is straight ahead at the end of the road.

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: .3 or .5 miles
Time: 15 minutes
Nearby Attractions: Tucker's Grove Playground and InNOut

More information: No online info about this trail, Park

Trail Sign
Main Path
Creek Path

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Refugio Beach

Refugio Beach is a state park with camping and a day use beach. It is sunny campground with swings and a basketball court. There are also hiking and biking trails.The parking is right next to the beach.

Directions: Head north on the 101. Take exit 120. Turn left onto Refugio Rd, then right and continue.

There is a slight cove here and the waves are calm.
The parking is right next to the beach for easy hauling of stuff.
You can camp close to the beach here.
There are bathrooms and showers (currently turned off for the drought).
There is a small store with some simple snacks.
State Park website says there are lifeguards year round.

There is a $10 charge for state park day use.
It is a drive from Santa Barbara/Goleta (20-30 minutes).
** This beach gets crowded especially when there are a lot of people camping. It could be hard to socially distance.**

More info

Western view

Eastern view

Southern view
Basketball court

Unisex single bathrooms


Campground store

Simple swings

Monday, June 12, 2017

Botanic Gardens

Some of my favorite memories of outdoor exploration are from the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, the redwood area with the huge tree cross section and the creek. The gardens are organized into sections: Meadow, Redwoods, Desert, and Canyon as well as others. The simple meadow and woodland loop is less than a mile and perfect for beginning hikers. We began in the meadow, circled through the redwood area, crossed over the bridge into the cayon area, stopped to run around the maze, played in the creek and hiked up through the tea gardens and Arroyo areas. That loop was about 1.5 miles. The gardens have snacks and drinks available in the store but no cafe. The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for kids.

Directions: Written directions

Trail Rating: Easy (stairs in the path we took)
Distance: 1 mile (or more)
Time: 45 minutes
Nearby places: Rocky Nook Park and the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum
Meadow area

Canyon Path

Creek area

Desert area

Children's Maze

Children's Maze

Children's Maze

Tea Garden