Connecting you with Recreational and other activities in the Santa Barbara area

Santa Barbara offers visitors many diverse experiences. For most attendees, you could plan activities on Wednesday or Thursday before the Institute and on the afternoon on Sunday November 13.

There is so much to do that the Institute is not attempting to organize your choices for you.

Here are a number of great options:

The Channel Island National Park

hh-channel-islands-overview-1Santa Barbara has the only South facing coastline in North America. This orientation combined with the transverse Santa Ynez Mountain range and the Channel Islands National Park perched off the coastline, creates a stunning backdrop for the city.

This park is undoubtedly one of the most unique and breathtaking in the country. Five islands make up the archipelago and surrounding marine sanctuary that’s long seclusion from the mainland has created unique animals, plants and archaeological resources found nowhere else. The islands are also home to the oldest dated human remains in North America—Arlington Springs Man (13,000 BP). A visit to the park is a full day or multi-day adventure.  Most visitors enjoy a half day excursion to the islands to enjoy whale watching or kayaking.

The Waterfront

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The waterfront is defined by Stearns Wharf and the Santa Barbara Harbor. On Stearns Wharf there are restaurants and specialty shops; the main attraction is the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. You can dine, go whale watching, sail, kayak, take a fishing excursion, and more. You will find information on all of these options here: The Santa Barbara Harbor.  Another popular attraction close to the waterfront is the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Downtown Santa Barbara

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In the heart of the city lies downtown Santa Barbara, which is anchored by State Street. This main street brims with shops, restaurants, museums, galleries, wine-tasting rooms, nightclubs and bars. This chic avenue has a European feel, with its red-tile architecture, white-washed buildings, bustling sidewalks, al fresco dining, open-air paseos, fountains and foliage. Arts abound in Santa Barbara, with live shows nearly every night. Several theaters are the anchors, including Granada Theatre, dazzling after a restoration to its flapper-era glory. Friday night we will be at the END POLIO concert with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at the Arlington, where “stars” shine above a Spanish village tableau.

Also take in the state-of-the-art New Vic; and Lobero, intimate and charming built in 1873. Exploring Santa Barbara by foot is easy and public transportation is readily accessible. For 50 cents catch the Downtown – Waterfront Electric Shuttle.

Funk Zone

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Santa Barbara has always been a haven for artists, artisans, winemakers and chefs looking for a slightly different approach. Thanks to the growth of The Funk Zone, this downtown Santa Barbara neighborhood has exploded into a contemporary Santa Barbara subculture of artisan shops, art galleries, hip eateries, award-winning craft breweries, and even a craft distillery. Some people use the term Funk Zone and the Urban Wine Trail interchangeably as the Funk Zone is home to the majority of the wine-tasting rooms on the trail. The Urban Wine Trail starts on Stearns Wharf and ends in the Historic Theatre District.

Santa Barbara Wine Country

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Santa Barbara County wine country is located 35 miles north of Santa Barbara. The region is different than any other wine-growing region in California as the east-west orientation of the coastal mountains forms valleys opening directly to the Pacific Ocean. This unique topography allows the flow of fog and ocean breezes to shape distinct microclimates, perfect for the cultivation of classic grape varietals and world-class wines. The best way to explore the wine country is on a tour. In addition to wine tasting, popular activities include ATV tours and horseback riding. The heart of the wine country is the Santa Ynez Valley which includes the towns of Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos and Ballard. Each has a distinct character and appeal.

There is so much to do and see; come early, stay late or both!