Fifteen wineries, centrally located and all within blocks of downtown Santa Barbara and the beach, offer a unique opportunity to taste and learn about some of the finest wines produced in Santa Barbara County. UrbanWineTrailSB.com, providesboth the novice and the aficionado an opportunity to learn about and get a taste of the many different varietals and styles crafted from surrounding wine country's best vineyards.
Just off the coast of Santa Barbara, the park encompasses five of the eight islands in the chain, and offers some of the best kayaking, snorkeling and hiking opportunities in California. The Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species, of which 145 are found nowhere else in the world. Beautiful marine life, pristine kelp forests, rugged coastline and hidden sea caves make this a world-class destination. Santa Barbara Adventure Company, SBAdventureCo.com, 805.884.9283, offers both day and overnight trips for beginners and advanced kayakers.
Santa Barbara’s south-facingcoast is home to great surf for beginners and experts alike. In summer, South Pacific swells send waves our way, but the Channel Islands block much of the action, though afternoon winds can make for small but fun surf. In fall and winter, storms from the north Pacific generate waves up to ten feet and sometimes more. That’s the time to visit Rincon, a world-class point break just south of Carpinteria. Leadbetter Beach in town and Campus Point, at UC Santa Barbara, are great for beginners. For any surf or stand up paddle board needs go to A-Frame Surf Shop at 3785 Santa Claus Lane, Carpinteria. 805.684.8803. aframesurf.com
Go for a session at one of Southern California’s coolest skate parks. This 14,600 square foot state-of-the-art park features rails, a half-pipe, fun boxes and other rad elements. It’s located on the waterfront, at Garden Street and Cabrillo Boulevard, just steps from the ocean. Protective gear required and enforced. 805.564.5418, santabarbaraca.gov
Gray, Blue and Humpback Whales all migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel, breaching, spy hopping and spouting as they make their way up and down the coast. Seals and dolphins are abundant, and you may even see a dolphin pod with numbers over a hundred. The occasional Orca Whale and Basking Shark have also been spotted. There is some fluctuation from year-to-year, but generally the season breakdown is: Feb. through May, Gray Whales migrate northward, May through Sept./Oct., Humpbacks feed in the SB channel, June through Sept./Oct., Blue Whales feed in the SB channel, and Dec. through Jan., Gray Whales migrate southward. Several species of dolphins & pinnipeds are here year-round. We recommend The Condor Express. 805.896.7489, condorexpress.com
Santa Barbara has many noteworthy and beautifully scenic courses. The Santa Barbara Golf Club, is located in the heart of the city and is one of the most popular golf courses in California. The championship golf course at Sandpiper has been rated by Golf Digest as one of the top twenty-five public golf courses in the country and boasts amazing mountain and ocean views. Glen Annie Golf Club, a championship course with first class amenities, is nestled in the beautiful surrounding foothills. Santa Barbara Golf Club: 805.687.7087, sbgolf.com; Sandpiper: 805.968.1541, sandpipergolf.com; Glen Annie: 805.968.6400, glenanniegolf.com
For a totally different experience, head over the pass to the heart of Santa Barbara Wine Country, where rolling, oak-studded hills hold six charming towns, each with their own unique flavor. Explore vineyards by horseback, enjoy some farm-to-table cuisine, sample the latest microbrewery batches or try your luck at the Chumash Casino. For more information, visitsyv.com
This beautiful park, located along the waterfront, has something for everyone. Take a spin on the antique carousel and then head over a charming bridge to a shipwreck-themed playground. There are drop-in picnic areas nearby, as well as reservable picnic areas and event facilities. 236 E Cabrillo Boulevard, 805.564.5418, santabarbaraca.gov
Santa Barbara's close proximity to the Santa Ynez Mountain Range makes for some great hiking opportunities. The most popular trails are found in the front country. Try a local favorite, Inspiration Point via Jesusita Trail. At around 2.5 miles round trip, this hike is doable for most hikers and rewards with one of the most stunning views of the city and Pacific. Take Tunnel Road all the way to the end - parking is limited. The trail begins on a paved fire road and at the end of this road, head straight up the dirt road. After about a 1/4 mile, take the trail to the left, head up and enjoy! For other front country, back country and ocean trail options, go to santabarbarahikes.com