Activities

Santa Barbara's climate, which boasts over 300 days of sunshine every year, is a huge draw for those looking for some outdoor adventure year-round. The Santa Ynez Mountains offer endless opportunities to hike and bike your way to amazing scenic vistas. The golden ridgelines cascade into the Pacific where you'll find a plethora of activities on the water, including kayaking, surfing, SUP and more, as well as incredible views of the California coastline. On any given day, you'll find pick-up beach volleyball games, people sea kayaking from Stearns Wharf to the Harbor, boats setting sail to go whale watching, and stand-up paddleboarders sliding across the water. You'll find a wide variety of options for outdoor fun here in Santa Barbara, Ca.

Hiking

Santa Barbara hiking trails offer outdoor lovers plenty of options for terrain and scenery. The Santa Ynez Mountain range is one of only two in the world that runs east to west, eventually spilling into the ocean on the breathtaking Gaviota Coast. So throw the necessities in your backpack and hit the trail because the view is about to get incredible.

SANTA BARBARA HIKING TRAILS

Choose from several trails that wind along flowing creeks shaded by California bay, sycamore and oak tree forests before you eventually peak out above the canopy where chaparral-choked mountainsides sweep across the entire range. Catch sight of Santa Barbara's red tile roofs, white sand beaches, and the Pacific beyond it with breathtaking, panoramic views.

You'll find plenty of amazing vistas from the top of Inspiration Point , whose trailhead is located a short distance north of the Santa Barbara Bowl. For beautiful views of an 80-foot tall waterfall, check out the short but rewarding hike at Nojoqui Falls. Or, to pair some fresh air with an appreciation of local flora, head to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where the Porter Trail will provide expansive views of the area.

HIKING IN THE SANTA YNEZ MOUNTAINS

Those who reach the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains are rewarded with more stunning views to the east and northeast showing off Santa Barbara's backcountry and the vast Los Padres National Forest.

Some of the trails that lead to the spine of the range include Tunnel, Cold Springs, San Ysidro and Romero Canyon. This rugged wilderness is fortified in sandstone and inviting trails that lead all the way to New Cuyama. The backcountry is a backpacker's dream where lonely trails lead to remote campsites, solitude and discovery, a piece of Santa Barbara experienced by just a few.

CHANNEL ISLANDS HIKING

And don't forget the Channel Islands National Park as a premier hiking destination. The five islands; Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel, all have unbelievable trails leading to amazing wildlife, rare forests, and jaw-dropping scenery. It's only a short boat ride away to a part of California that is as captivating today as it was 200 years ago.

Biking

Whether you're pedaling your beach cruiser along Santa Barbara's famed ocean-side Cabrillo Boulevard, racking up big mileage on a winding road ride, or descending at full speed down perfect single track, Santa Barbara's diversified landscape offers a route for all skill levels and modes of two-wheeled transportation. Don't want to bring your bike, or don't have your own? No problem. Beach-front retailers make it easy to rent and ride while you're here.

Mountain biking Santa Barbara's front and backcountry trails is as challenging as it is rewarding. Rides range from moderate to strenuous, and are a great way to experience the vast 875,000 acres comprising the Los Padres National Forest and its 1,257 miles of maintained trails. The challenging terrain will test the very best with steep, rocky ascents and thrilling, technical downhill routes.

Kayaking

Santa Barbara's many beaches, bays, and the beautiful Channel Islands National Park beckon you to explore them first-hand, in a sea kayak. When kayaking in Santa Barbara, you'll often get quite a natural show that can include migrating gray and humpback whales, dolphins, sea lions, starfish, and sea birds. Santa Barbara Harbor is always a fun choice for a quick ocean jaunt. Paddle the calm waters that surround Stearns Wharf and extend along Santa Barbara's local beaches.

For the ultimate sea kayaking adventure, make sure to plan a trip to Channel Islands National Park, which possesses some of the best coastal kayaking in the world. Let your guide take you through the sea caves of Scorpion Bay, or gliding over the area's famous kelp beds. Skip the car ride and hop in a kayak for an exciting way to see Santa Barbara's shores.

Surfing and Standup Paddleboarding

It's known as a sport for the soul, and when you paddle out in Santa Barbara, you'll quickly see why. The surfing in Santa Barbara allows for some of the best in California, with something for every skill level.

If you're just getting your feet wet, so to speak, it's easy to find surf lessons or rent a board. Once you're geared up, head to the inviting beginner surf breaks south of town, or up the bravery level with a visit to Gaviota or Jalama.

An alternative to surfing, is stand up paddleboarding, or SUP. It can be done anywhere there is water and Santa Barbara is no exception. Its curvy coastline offers respite from northwest winds. For the experienced standup paddler, enjoy an exciting downwinder that ends right in Santa Barbara Harbor. There's nothing quite like paddling with a carefree pod of coastal bottlenose dolphins, the only sounds being the slice of your paddle through the water and one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet briefly coming up for air, breaking the surface of the water.

Fishing

The vast Santa Barbara Channel extends just beyond the Santa Barbara shores, making for an excellent reason to consider adding a chartered fishing trip to your itinerary. If you want to stay on the mainland Stearns Wharf just east of the Santa Barbara Harbor is a reliable, easily accessible and a favorite fishing locale. Other pier fishing takes place off Goleta and Ellwood Piers, but successful surf fishing can be had up and down the Santa Barbara coastline.

Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is located in the harbor in Santa Barbara, California, United States. When completed In 1872, it became the longest deep-water Wharf between San Pedro and San Francisco. Named for its builder, local lumberman John P. Stearns, the wharf served the passenger and freight shipping needs of California's South Coast for over a quarter century. Find more about the history of the wharf, visit stearnswharf.org.

Santa Barbara Harbor

Are you wondering where you can go and please everyone in the family? The Santa Barbara Harbor has something for everyone: boat rentals, kayaks, Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs), jet skis, a Maritime Museum, sunbathing on the beach, restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, deep sea fishing, scuba diving, a water taxi, and whale watching, even an ice cream cone to enjoy in the shade. Come to the Santa Barbara Harbor and spend your day having fun! Find out more click here.

Captain Jack's Tours and Events

Captain Jack's Tours has been voted “Best Wine Tour” in the Santa Barbara News Press Readers Choice award for the 3rd year in a row. We offer Wine Tasting tours starting at $70, Beer Tasting tours, Coastal Sailboat Cruises and Kayak Tours starting at $40, Horseback Rides starting at $85 and more. Captain Jack's Tours offers these tours individually or prepackaged in a full day tour. We also specialize in team building, family reunions, and corporate events. Activities include: Paintball, Wine Blending Competitions, Wine Pairing Dinners, Deep Sea Fishing, Whale Watching, Private Sailing Cruises & more! Call us at 805-564-1819 or visit www.CaptainJacksTours.com for more information for more information.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding in Santa Barbara is one of the best ways to enjoy the area's diverse landscape. From relaxing sunset beach horseback rides on low tides to remote backcountry getaways, it's easy to hop in the saddle and see a new side of Santa Barbara.

From leisure to luxury, this activity will leave a lasting memory. Saddle up in the scenic Santa Ynez Valley. Here, riders often pair their afternoon with a few stops at local wineries. Or, if you've always dreamed of a horseback ride along the beach, Summerland Beach is the perfect spot to trot along the coastline. Wherever you choose, explore Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas the old fashioned, but highly enjoyable way—on horseback.

Santa Barbara Beach Horseback Rides

Enjoy this iconic – one-of-a-kind – Santa Barbara adventure that CNN Travel rates in Top Three Things To Do in SoCal. Rides offered three times daily all Summer. Perfect for families, couples and groups. Check our website for weekly discounts, free wine tasting specials and group rates. For more information click here.

Circle Bar B Guest Ranch & Stables

Luxurious Accommodations, Fine Cuisine, Horseback riding. Amazing horseback riding, tranquil surroundings, excellent food and warm hospitality await you at the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch. For more information please click here.

Whale Watching

There's a reason why the Santa Barbara Channel is one of the west coast's best areas for whale watching. Its nutrient-rich water is home to hundreds of species of marine life as well as a wide variety of seabirds. Spotting dolphins is a daily occurrence, along with seasonal appearances of migrating whales. A whale watching trip here combines nature, adventure and a potential glimpse of the biggest mammals on Earth.

From late November through April, thousands of Pacific gray whales migrate through the Channel first heading south to the warm water lagoons of Baja California. On their return in the spring many gray whales, especially mothers with newborn calves, hug Santa Barbara's coastline heading to their eventual summer home in the Bering Strait off Alaska. While you're visiting Santa Barbara, enjoy the many leisurely trails along the scenic bluffs that also double as perfect vantage points to sit and watch for these magnificent creatures heading north.

Late spring through early fall, the Santa Barbara Channel offers regular sightings of humpback whales and the largest mammal on earth, the colossal blue whale. You might also spot the shy minke whale, fin whale, Pacific white-sided dolphin, coastal bottlenose dolphin and rissos dolphin.

There are a variety of ways to get out on the water for a whale watching adventure in Santa Barbara:

At 75 feet, the Condor Express delivers up to 120 passengers to the Santa Barbara Channel's prime feeding grounds. With in-cabin and upper-deck seating, the Condor Express is a great way to see one of the many species of whales that visit the area throughout the year. You can even enjoy a spectacular dinner cruise.

With a maximum capacity of 15 passengers, the Sunset Kidd is one of the more serene ways to see whales in their natural habitat. The 41-ft. yacht sails alongside giant California Gray Whales as they break the surface, allowing you to not only see the whales but also hear them as they catch their breath. Passengers can help sail the Sunset Kidd or sit back and enjoy the wildlife, which may include everything from minkes to orcas and even the giant blue whale.

If you want a closer look at the Channel Islands, Captain Jack's might be just the right tour. The four-and-a-half hour trip off the Santa Barbara coast offers a spectacular look at blue, humpback, gray and killer whales from the comfort of a 75-ft. catamaran. Passengers enjoy beer, wine and snacks while catching a glimpse of the beauty and grandeur of the Pacific's most majestic creatures as they migrate to Baja to give birth, and then again as they head north with their babies.

One third of the marine mammals in the world can be spotted in the waters off the coast of Santa Barbara, and Celebration Cruises wants you to see them up close. From February to May, 27 species of whales – including humpbacks, minkes and California grays – share these waters with Celebration Cruises' 46-passenger luxury yacht. You'll also see sea lions and dolphins on this Santa Barbara cruise.

Spotting Santa Barbara's whales from the deck of a sailboat is an experience like no other. Santa Barbara Sailing's 50-ft. catamaran, the Double Dolphin , silently slips through the waves so you can get as close as possible to the whales and other aquatic animals without disturbing them. Reservations are required for this extraordinary cruise that runs seven days a week.

Sailing

SANTA BARBARA HARBOR

The Santa Barbara Harbor is your launching pad for sailing the scenic Santa Barbara coastline, and venturing beyond to the Santa Barbara Channel and around the remote Channel Islands National Park. Santa Barbara's predominant northwest winds create the perfect opportunity for the novice to learn basic sailing skills inside the harbor in a class with a local instructor. Or, consider chartering a sailboat with a captain for your private group. Conditions are also ideal for the experienced sailor to sharpen skills in the open water. For website click here.

SAILING EXCURSIONS

Guided sailing tours can be an excellent choice for a romantic date, a fun sightseeing activity for big or small groups, or a unique option for team building or corporate events. For the ultimate Santa Barbara evening, reserve an exclusive private excursion for you and your sweetheart during a stunning Santa Barbara sunset sail. Hoping to catch a glimpse of migrating whales or playing dolphins? Go with a group on daily whale-watching excursions.

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