12 Awesome Parks and Natural Attractions in Santa Barbara (2023)
With near-perfect weather all year round, Santa Barbara becomes one of the ideal South Californian regions for outdoor enthusiast and wanderlusts. Locals of Santa Barbara are extremely fond of the city and barely choose to visit out in search of recreation and rejuvenation; however, those who do not belong here are still unfamiliar with its hidden charm and secrets.
Featuring the huge stretch of mountain-strewn coastline, wonderful parks and an abundance of natural attractions, Santa Barbara is nothing but magnificence. The city of Santa Barbara is also referred to as “America’s Riviera”, widespread for its style, section and well-known charm.
12 Awesome Parks and Natural Attractions in Santa Barbara
Out of its huge outdoor itinerary, here are the 12 Most Popular Parks and Natural Attractions in Santa Barbara. Have a look:
1. Coronado Butterfly preserve
Nearly 10 minutes from Downtown Santa Barbara lies the Natural Wonder, the Coronado Butterfly preserve. It isn’t a regular sight where you can see butterflies captured or a few of them roaming here and there, but a herd of them sticking to trees, land, and where not. The preserve is spread over 9.3 acres and is home to not just butterflies but also numerous birds, wildlife, eucalyptus groves, and the coastal sage scrub habitat. It is also home to the largest Monarch butterfly over-wintering groves in California that are on their best from late October through early March. The preserve is operation from Dawn to Dusk and is absolutely free to explore.
2. Shoreline Park
One of the most popular parks in Santa Barbara, the Shoreline Park, is the magnificence you cannot miss. The Park can be reached in the Santa Ynez Mountains and is famous for offering astonishing views of the harbour, Island, Mountains, and the flabbergasting Santa Barbara skyline. The beauty one can witness from here is nowhere else to be found in the entire county. The Park comprises the playground, Picnic areas and benches, a huge concrete statue of the white whale, a telescopic whale watching zone, and Torri gate, leading to beautiful sites. On a clear day, one can capture Channel Island views, spot grey whales and experience a slightly closer and clearer view on the moon.
3. Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point is a well-known hiking destination in Santa Barbara that takes you deep inside cities’ preserved nature. It offers nearly a 3.5 miles heavily trafficked hiking path ideal for hikers of all experience level. The most popular and common route begins from the Tunnel Road via Tunnel trail and Jesusita Trail. Though the trails aren’t well marked, with a number of hikers on the way, you can easily stay on track, companied and entertained. There aren’t many shaded paths in between; thus, it is advised to carry your cap, sunglasses, sunscreen and plenty of war and some snacks along. Dogs on leash are allowed as well.
4. Alameda Park
Located in the downtown area, Alameda Park is one of the oldest city parks in Santa Barbara. It is basically a two-block park featuring unique and rare trees, an 8,000 square foot playground (Kid’s World), picnic site, bandstand and a few reservable party sites. With a huge playing space, the Park is especially loved by kids, and you can find several of them playing and enjoying their time around. There are several green spaces ideal for spending a lazy afternoon or evening. Here you can also take self-guided Alameda Plaza tree tours and learn about several rare, unique and endangered trees.
5. Chase Palm Park
Chase Palm Park is a unique picturesque beach park with 10 acres stretch along Cabrillo Boulevard. It can be reached in the heart of Santa Barbara, ideal for visitors of all age group. Chase Palm offers astonishing beach views on one side and magnificent mountain view landscaped at another, drawing nature seekers of vivid interest. It is a pleasant site for walking, biking, jogging, and running; however, weekend scenes here are completely unique and fun. Weekends are Chase Palm Park usually means exhibitions and art displays where you can explore and even buy the art pieces you loved. The combination of blue sea-sky, nicely lined palms, green grass beds and peaceful atmosphere here indeed is mesmerising.
6. Douglas Family Preserve
The Douglas Family Preserve is spread over 70 acres right at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas Road on the mesa above Arroyo Burro Beach. It is also referred to as Wilcox Property (by the locals), famous for the abundance of Natural calamity and beauty. The preserve is well known for hiking, cycling, dog-walking (both lease and of-lease depending upon the region), and wildlife watching. You can enter the Park from the Oak Grove Trail where Las Positas Road and the southern side of Cliff Drive meet or from the east at Mesa School Lane, Medcliff Drive and Borton Drive. Before you begin with exploration, we recommend you take a picture of the map of the trails at the Park’s entrance and thereafter continue your time.
7. Lake Cachuma
A reservoir in Central Santa Barbara County, the Lake Cachuma one of the most popular recreational area you can find in the region. Lake Cachuma is set between the natural setting of Santa Ynez and the San Rafael Mountains. The site offers several recreational opportunities, including hiking trails, water sports and tours, camping facilities or, in short, a relaxing getaway in the laps of nature. Lake Cachuma is somewhere between the beaches and bustle of Santa Barbara and the Danish Community and can easily be reached off Highway 154. The atmosphere here is mostly mild, with clear sunny skies and cold wind blowing all through the day. If you are looking to spend your time in a peaceful and less crowded site in Santa Barbara County, Lake Cachuma is indeed your jam.
8. Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park is more of a hidden gem in Santa Barbara as not many people know about it unless they particularly search for the Park. True to its name, the Park is known for its painted caves that are preserved to honour the centuries-old Native American artwork. It is a really small park and can be reached by walking a couple of minutes up on a trail on Painted Cave Road, only two miles from California Route 154. One has to be extremely careful keeping a sharp eye on the location as if not focused; you can easily miss it and pass by. You won’t find any facilities or something extravagant here, but surely the best remaining rock arts by the Chumash Indians.
9. Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden
Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden is incredible natural preservation that can be reached in downtown Santa Barbara. This stunning garden and Park is an unexpected gem in the city featuring 75 different tree and plant species. There are several small routes/ trails within the garden featuring multiple sound posts that speaks up information simply by touching the button. Within the Park lies one pretty lake housing ducks, geese and water lilies. The gardens are usually at their best after winter during the entire spring season, though October can be pretty dull here.
10. Whale Watching Tours
The waters of Santa Barbara houses over 30 varieties of whales and dolphins, making it one of the best marines watching site in the State. There are several tours and events that take visitors close to these beautiful and mesmerising sea animals, enjoying their time out in their natural habitat. Along with Whales and dolphins, here you can get close to several other marine animals, including orcas, sea lions and some other huge fish varieties. The best time to be here is from May through November when you can even sight the largest alive mammals on earth, humpback whales. Condor Express whale watching, double dolphin cruise, celebration cruise are some of the best tour operators.
11. Santa Barbara Beaches
What better natural attractions can you explore in Santa Barbara other than its alluring beaches? The Santa Barbara coastline is home to over 14 world-class beaches offering vibes for visitors of all kinds and interests. Either it is the astounding sunset views from the Leadbetter Beach or the serene atmosphere and deep blue horizon of Miramar beach, there’s something pretty, unique and marvellous on every waterline here. If you are more into peaceful and less crowded beaches, then the Summerland Beach and Mesa Lane beach can be your jam; however, if you are up for some water sport and recreation, then consider heading towards East beach or the Santa Clause beach.
12. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
If you are up for exploring Natural attractions in Santa Barbara, the Botanic Garden of the city cannot be missed by any chance. The garden is spread over 78 acres, nestled in the Mission Canyon. The garden is in existence for over a century now and has witnessed several incidents and developments that shaped present-day Santa Barbara County. The garden is home to over 1,000 rare and indigenous plant species, some locals, whereas many specifically imported and cultivated. The garden is also home to the historic Native American dam (that dates back to the early 1800s) and multiple informative trails. Visitors or locals who are craving a dose of nature in Santa Barbara must add this site into their itinerary.