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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Elings Park Upper Playground

 After finding so many playgrounds in the summer of 2015, I haven't seen a new one (without leaving Santa Barbara/Goleta) for awhile. I was surprized to find a new one when searching for a hiking trail at Elings Park.  Of course there is the main playground (Capello Playground) next to the softball fields and bathrooms, but above that, there is a separate playground (Mission Linen) next to the soccer fields. Who knew?

Elings Park is a huge park with playing fields, bike area, walking trails, play grounds and wedding areas. There are 2 playgrounds, one next to the softball fields and the other next to the soccer field. Next to the soccer field, there is a 2-5 year old play structure shaped like a boat. There are 2 slides, 2 climbing areas and 3 steering wheels. The front end has a bench for passengers.

Directions: Take the 101 N from downtown and exit Las Positas Rd. Follow the merged road to the stoplight and turn left onto Las Positas. After 1 mile, turn left onto Jerry Harwin Parkway. Pass the first parking lot to park in the next area. The soccer fields and palyground are just down from it.

There are bathrooms.
There is plenty of parking on nongame days.
There is a shady sitting area near the playground.

The park is crowded and parking difficult when there are games.
This is a dog friendly park and not the best for kids who are fearful of dogs.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Ellwood Preserve

Ellwood Preserve and the Coronado Butterfly area are a fun nature walk that can be long or short for the littles.  There are 2 parking options. When I want to visit the butterfly preserve, I park at the end of Coronado and pick up the path there. It is an easy walk of less than a mile to the butterfly area from here. If you want to explore the bluffs, park at the lot across from Ellwood School on Hollister Ave and walk from there.

Directions: Take 101 N to the Glen Annie exit. Turn left onto Glenn Annie, then right on Hollister Ave. Turn left onto Coronado Dr after 1 mile and continue to the end of the road. Or continue past Coronado Dr another .4 miles and turn left into the parking lot for Sperling Preserve.

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: .75 miles (or more)
Time: 30 minutes
Nearby Attractions: Haskell's Beach, Santa Barbara Shores Park, and Girsh Park 

More Information:
Coronado Butterfly Preserve:
Sperling Preserve/Ellwood Mesa:

Path from the Ellwood Parking Lot


Lots of Places to explore Nature

Bridge to the Butterflies

Coronado Butterfly Preserve

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hiking Packing List

After 7 hikes, we have a packing list for our hikes that seems to cover most situations. We all wear athletic shoes (walking) and pants (poison oak). I pack all the items here into a backpack for us. The kids carry their own packs for the treasures they find and MUST KEEP. I am not carrying rocks, people. On longer hikes where I want them to go to a certain point, I carry snacks as motivation. They have fairly healthy snacks usually, so this is the time for yogurt raisins or pretzels, bars, or fruity snacks. Whatever motivates them. A friend was recently telling me her family uses "motivation chocolate" for these occasions!

Athletic shoes
Water bottles
Kid Bags or Backpacks (for treasures found)

Other #MomLife Posts:
Road Tripping with Kids
Beach Tips with Kids
Hiking List with Kids
Travel Packing Lists

Monday, July 3, 2017

Stevens Park Trail

Stevens Park has a fun playground and great creek for nature playing. It also has a trail at the back end of the grass field. For a very short trek, walk to the overpass and listen to the cars drive over you (only about 200 yards). Past here, a shady trail continues for about 1 mile. The path is wide and mainly flat, but there is a lot of poison oak nearby. This trail connects to the 7 mile Jesusita Trail if you are really feeling adventurerous. We hiked to the trail crossing which is about .5 miles up the trail.

Directions: From downtown, take 101 N to the Las Positas exit. Turn right onto Las Positas Rd and follow the road for about 1 mile. Turn left onto Calle Fresno and immediately right onto Canon Dr. The park is on the right,

Trail Rating: Easy
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1.5 hours with kids
Nearby attractions: Stevens Park Playground,

More information:

Stevens Trail
Rock Bowls in the path