ACTIVITIES: Whatever the weather, there’s a park for you – My Top 8 Favorite Santa Barbara Parks

If you love the outdoors as much as I do, then you must find yourself looking for any reason to be outside. Our two adorable kids certainly do. If we’re not headed to one of our beautiful Santa Barbara beaches, then we’re hiking in the foothills, visiting the Santa Barbara zoo, frolicking in the rose garden at the mission, or simply chasing critters in our yard. The options for outdoor activities are endless when you live in paradise! Granted, these spring days occasionally throw us for a loop. Will it be a cold 73° or a warm 73°? Some days you just can’t tell! On top of that, the little bit of El Niño we’ve had can bring scattered showers.


Whatever the weather, one outdoor activity that’s always a winner with young kids is the park. They never seem to care if it’s a warm or cold day when enjoying the adventures of a playground. Mine certainly have their favorite spots. I, on the other hand, always have careful consideration before deciding which park to choose. How much time do we have? Did it rain recently? Will it be a scorcher today? Are we meeting people there? What’s the bathroom situation? Here’s a few tips to help make your decision easier.


Alice Keck Park & Shoreline Park

If you know you’ve got some time on your hands, then you should consider Alice Keck park. Parking can take a little extra time, but once you’re there the fun is on. Feeding the ducks and turtles, running through the meandering pathways, then heading across to Kids World can be a day of entertainment. Another one of our favorite spots is Shoreline park. We’ve spent many a lazy day enjoying this picturesque location. Go for a jog or bike down to the harbor and back then finish the morning off with a romp on the playground overlooking the islands. Or better yet, bring the bathing suits and towels and head down to the beach for the whole afternoon!





University Open Space, Steven’s Park & Willow Glen Park

If it’s recently rained I always choose the same park, University Open Space. Although there are many options for mud-free playgrounds, this one is my favorite. The entire playground has AstroTurf and there’s no tempting sand box to get dirty in. It’s also a great place to play on a hot day. There are lots of great shade trees and it gets a nice breeze. A couple more clean park options are Steven’s park and Willow Glen park. These both have wood chip ground covering instead of sand or dirt. Bonus! They’re also tucked away in quiet neighborhoods so you can enjoy the silence and safety of being secluded.
*One thing to note is that University and Willow Glen parks don’t have bathrooms. So unless you’re planning on knocking on the door of a nearby home, come prepared with a potty seat.


Elings Park, Manning Park and Lookout Park

Planning a party, or meeting up with friends? These are three great spots to consider. Elings park is truly a gem. There are countless activities for both families and adventurers alike! Soccer and baseball fields, playground, hiking trails, walking trails, BMX bike track, dog park and even more. I would be remiss if I didn’t boast the picturesque Santa Barbara backdrop as well!  Manning park is another beautiful place to meet friends for have a gathering. The playground is clean and the vine adorned pergola has such natural beauty. Additionally, the large grassy area creates a great space for games and entertaining. Last but certainly not least, I chose Lookout park. There’s a fantastic, clean playground that is fun for all ages, bathrooms, picnic tables with barbecues and stunning ocean views. Like Shoreline park, this treasure sits atop a stunning beach that feels almost like a private island getaway.What more could you want when getting friends together?


Truly, there are so many great parks to spend your day. With over 50 parks in our community, you really can’t go wrong with any of them. All I can say is, I hope to see you there!