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 Gardens, Stevens Park, Rocky Nook Park, Tucker'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
Parking: See posts above for the parking information
Nearby: Botanic Gardens, Rocky Nook Park, Stevens Park, Tucker's Grove and Oak Park