I continuously hear people complain about running out for things to do in a town they’ve lived in for an extended amount of time. It’s always shocking to hear people say that about Santa Barbara, where, through my personal experience, there is always an abundance of fun activities—and in one of the most beautiful places on earth at that—. During quarantine especially, I know students in particular have struggled to find and fit fun activities among their schedules and into their lives. For those of you who have time but few ideas, I’ve compiled a list of fun activities to do when bored in SB.
- Hiking/nature walks (more mesa, Lizard’s Mouth)
There are a multitude of available hikes above SB, Goleta and Montecito. Each has unique views attainable by any skill-level. More Mesa and Lizard’s Mouth are just a few examples of cool outdoor spots where you can hike, walk and even bike.
“Well I go surfing a lot with all my friends. Also skateboarding, hiking and exploring the backcountry, and just getting outside in general. It’s awesome,” says SM Senior Shane Russell.
There are beaches all along the coast of California. Lucky us, we have access to some of the most beautiful and famous beaches. In the surrounding areas we have Laguna, Malibu, Hope Ranch, Butterfly, Sands, Campus Point, Henry’s for dogs and East Beach for volleyball. There’s even a nude beach under More Mesa if you’re up for that experience. Apart from the usual beach activities like tanning and playing sports, it’s also very fun to go for sunrise/sunset dips.
- Coastal activities
We’re very lucky to have access to a beautiful ocean extending all along our California coast. Besides lounging at the beach, SB in particular offers a multitude of fun activities ranging from surfing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking and even the recent addition of parasailing. Surfing can become a fun hobby for anyone, and for those more experienced, we have the famous wave of Rincon just a few minutes away in Carpinteria. Stand up paddle boarding and kayaking are fun day activities with cheap rentals in the harbor. You can go out to the sea lions on the buoy, paddle under the pier—but be cautious of fishing lines—, catch some waves along West beach and stop and Sandspit for some sun. The end of the pier has recently added parasailing as an exciting 60 min activity that offers birds-eye views of our town and an occasional dip in the water for a bit of a rush. It is most definitely an exciting yet relaxing experience.
- Rocky Nook, Red Rock and Ojai stream
With summer coming up, both Rocky Nook, Red Rock and the Ojai stream should be filling and warming up again soon. Sun, water activities, and even some cool jumping spots are guaranteed at these local and not-so-local spots.
It’s not uncommon to see paragliders up in the sky along the coast or in the mountains of SB. But I bet you didn’t know that minors can participate in this activity as well. With parent/guardian consent and company, there is no age requirement for this experience.
Although camping is more commonly associated with going out of town, it can become a fun activity with family and/or friends by going to some nearby spots for a weekend. Have a bit of a staycation but get out of the house. Carpinteria, Ventura, El Capitán and Refugio camping spots are just a few nearby options—and all with beach access—.
- Take ferry to the Channel Islands
Not only is it a fun experience to take a ferry ride out at sea and catch a glimpse of some dolphins or even whales, but the destination offers beach, hiking and camping all in a national park.
- Take the train for a little day getaway
The tickets are affordable and the means of travel is something new and fun. The train goes along the California coast and stops at everything from rural rancheland and small towns to major cities. Where you go and what you do there is really up to you, but you got to travel through a relaxing and unique means of transportation.
- Biking and skating
Skating is a fun hobby anyone can pick up with some practice. Learn some new tricks or use it as transportation to get around town. The same goes for biking. The waterfront has family-size rentals and there are a multitude of electric options. You can take your bike anywhere through town or even up in the mountains.
“For fun I have been riding my electric bike up and down the hills of SB,
especially in the Mesa area. The electric bike makes it easy to get almost
anywhere,” says SM staff member Luke Ohrn.
In support of some local shops and to reuse some old clothing, thrifting a fun and environmentally-sustainable practice. Take some friends and dedicate some time to finding one-of-a-kind fashion in some of the shops in our area. Ventura, Goleta and LA have some of the best nearby shops.
- Visit art museums
Visiting an art museum can fill the afternoon with a relaxing and historically rich activity. SB has has quite a few art museums including the one on state street which, when done renovating, is sure to have some new exhibits. LA also offers a multitude of famous art museums only a small drive away.
- Visit the botanical garden and lotus land
Apart from the usual rose garden—which is beautiful nonetheless—, the botanical garden and lotus land are two local gardens where, with a small fee, one can go to admire nature unique to this area and put on display beautifully.
Grabbing a hammock, finding a cool spot, and lounging with friends is a super relaxing and fun way to fill some time. You’ll have sun, can listen to music, play cards and even make some art. It’s a new take on lounging around that takes you outside and away from the usual routine.
- Eating a fun dinner on the open state street
State street has recently opened up to allow restaurants and bars to serve food/drinks on the barred-off road of state street. It’s a unique experience that, with some friends and some fun outfits, can become a really cool outing for food.
- Drive in movie
Grab some friends, blankets and snacks, head over to Goleta, and catch a movie of your choice. It’s a fun replacement to the usual movie at home and supports a declining business.
Lastly, we’ve got picnics. Nothing fancy, but with good company, music, food, sun, cards and some art, it’s a great way to fill the time in a relaxing manner. There are great spots all around SB, along the coast or up in the mountains. One has water access and the other has breathtaking views.
I know it can become especially hard to come up with fun things to do when you’ve lived in an area for a long time, or even all your life in some cases. But trust me when I say SB offers so many amazing things to do. Switch things up and include new things into your schedule as often as you can. It’s really quite important to have a break and participate in something new and fun.