20 Things to do for mother’s day in Santa Barbara




Written By Barbara Cast


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Butterfly Beach Walking/Biking Pathway/Santa Barbara, CA (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)

Happy Spoil Your Mom Day!  Yep, it’s that time of year!  Hopefully, you spoil your mom daily in unique ways to let her know that she is loved and appreciated throughout the year.  But here are 20 ways to bring joy and beauty into her day in the city of Santa Barbara, CA!


  1. RIDE BIKES TOGETHER – Spend some time on wheels of different sorts – Surrey, bikes, chopper bikes, electric bikes.  After renting from the East Mason Street location’s Wheel Fun Rentals, for more variety, you can ride one block west to the Cabrillo Beach walkway parallel to the beach!  The views are gorgeous!  I mean, the Pacific ocean is at your front door.  And, you get to people-watch as you ride.  You can ride south along the path to the end of the lake near the Santa Barbara Zoo.  Be sure to try to spy the giraffe’s head as you ride by!  Or, you can ride north past the marina and in Shoreline Park, but beware of the big hill to climb.  It’s a fun and sneaky way to get some movement in your day!  It’s a good idea to reserve your bike in advance on their website.  Address: 24 E. Mason Street, Santa Barbara, CA; (805) 962-2282.
Cabrillo Beach Bike Path at Sunset, while riding a chopper bike rented from Wheel Fun Rentals/Santa Barbara. (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)
  1. VISIT ALL THE ANIMALS – Speaking of giraffes, many moms and families love the Santa Barbara Zoo for its smaller size and proximity to the beach!  You can explore and learn about different animals, but you can also take a break to enjoy the green area and sneak a peek of the Ocean! Be sure to make reservations before you go!  Address: 500 Niños Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93103; (805) 962-5339 main | (805) 962-6310 info line.
  1. VISIT A MUSEUM – Many moms share that MOXI: THE WOLF MUSEUM OF EXPLORATION & INNOVATION is a very fun and interactive hands-on museum right on State Street. Explore the different exhibits, workshops, and art installations – Sound, light & technology with Blippi, Climate Change Challenge, and Van Gogh Virtual Reality Experience.  MOXI’s website says that they offer a monthly, sensory-friendly programming “for children and adults affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or sensory challenges and their families” to enjoy the museum.  And Moms with toddlers, MOXI has a day for you too!   They also offer the several different MOXI Summer Camp opportunities for children in 1st through 6th grades.  Reserve tickets on their website.  Address: 125 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 770-5000.
  1. BUTTERFLY BEACH STROLL – If you are interested in just a light stroll with incredible views before or after a meal, head over to Butterfly Beach Montecito. Be sure to park on Channel Drive across from Butterfly Beach, and walk north on Channel Drive.  As the road veers to the right, a nice bike and walking path appears on the left, presenting you with a beautiful view of the Pacific blue! For something a little more strenuous, this pathway eventually connects with Cabrillo Road, which takes you to the Santa Barbara Pier!  **However, in order to get to Cabrillo Road, you have to ride on a regular street and cross a bustling intersection with stop signs to reconnect with the bike and walking path again.  Please take care, if you choose to take on this challenge.**  It is such a fun and beautiful ride.  Address: 1260 Channel Drive, Montecito, CA
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Butterfly Beach Walking/Biking Path/Santa Barbara (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)
  1. GET A MASSAGE – Maybe you can take your kids to the local park for an hour or two while Mom gets a massage, facial, peel, or Halotherapy treatments at an underground crystal Salt Cave – The Salt Cave Santa Barbara!  She can also spend some time in the Salt Cave breathing in the micro-particles of salt to open up the lungs.  Let Mom be pampered for an hour or two while you have fun with the kids. You can book a treatment on their website.  Address: 740 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 963-7258.
  1. GO FOR A NATURE WALKDouglas Family Preserve is a park for people and dogs to walk the hiking trails alongside Monterey pine, Monterey cypress, and eucalyptus trees.  You’ll also enjoy viewing the wildlife and the stunning ocean.  Beware, the ocean views involve steep cliffs with no railing, so please keep your children close at hand. There is also a trail that meanders through majestic oak trees.  Follow the trail down to Arroyo Burro River to Arroyo Burro County Beach (Hendry’s Beach).  If you want to take a very long walk, enjoy the shoreline walk until you reach the Mesa Lane staircase.  After climbing to the clouds, make a left on Mesa School Road to reach the Douglas Family Preserve once again.  No reservation necessary.   Address: 2438 Mesa School Ln., Santa Barbara, CA 93109; (805) 897-2524.
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Douglas Family Preserve/Santa Barbara (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)
  1. PHOTOGRAPHY SITES – If your Mom enjoys dabbling in photography, be sure to stop by the Santa Barbara Courthouse with its breathtaking architecture and gorgeous grounds.  They  offer self-guided historical tours.  You can find valuable information available on their website to read, while you tour the outdoor grounds and stand in front of the buildings.  The Mural Room and the Clock Tower are temporarily closed.  You may enjoy the tour from the outside.  You may also tour this beautiful building remotely.  They will announce docent-led tours soon.  Address: 1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93121; (805) 962-6464.
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Santa Barbara County Court House/Santa Barbara (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)
  1. SMELL THE FLOWERS – Attention, flower-loving Moms!  Make your way over to the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens! The Gardens boast 78 acres of breathtaking land!  Your kiddos can learn about the 1000 species of different types of California plants as they hike some or all of the 9.2 km of trails!  Reservations are required.  You get your reservations on their website.  Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105; (805) 682-4726.
  1. DRINK IN A LITTLE HISTORY – Learn a little about California History and take in the majestic architecture of the towering Mission Santa Barbara, the tenth mission founded in 1786, by  Fr. Fermin Francisco de Lasuen.  Although there are no docent tours available at the time, you can take a self-guided tour, including the Sacred Garden, the Historic Cemetery, the Mission Church, and the Museum.  Please be aware and check the website for when the church and cemetery is unavailable for tours, due to church services, weddings, and funerals.  No reservations are required for the self-guided tour.  Ticket prices can be found on their website.  There are no restrooms on-site, so be sure to visit a restroom before visiting Mission Santa Barbara.  This year, don’t miss the special events – Drinks At Dusk – Spring and Summer Series (Tickets can be purchased on the website), and Old Mission Market & Festival.  Address: 2201 Laguna St., Santa Barbara, CA 93105; (805) 682-4713.
  1. HORSE AROUND TOGETHER – Experience stunning and breathtaking views on a beach or a trail horseback ride through the Montecito area of Santa Barbara for 90-minutes with Los Padres Outfitters (LPO)! Group, Family, Couples or Individual rides are available, 7 days a week, yearlong, for guests,10 years or older. (If your children, who are under 10 with horseback riding experience, please contact LPO to discuss the possibility to ride).  Be sure to ask about their special occasion rides and pack rides!  Be sure to reserve your ride on their website or give them a call.  (805) 755-8687.
  1. LAND OR WATER TOUR? – How about both?   Santa Barbara offers LandSharkTours for a unique city and harbor tour.  According to their website, you will learn about Santa Barbara, as you drive through the streets of Santa Barbara “to some Historical landmarks and visit numerous attractions”.  After you complete the land part of the tour, your tour bus will dip and take a float in the Pacific Ocean to explore the the Santa Barbara Harbor.  You will see numerous yachts, fishing boats, and marine life.  Become a student and learn about the different Maritime stories around Stearns Wharf!  No restrooms are available on the bus/boat.  You can purchase tickets on their website.  Tickets sell out quickly, according to the website, although it is difficult to find the reservation button on the website.  If they don’t have enough tickets purchased for a boat ride, they will cancel their tour.  Address: 99 West Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 683-7600.
  1. A TASTY MEAL WITH A VIEW – One of Santa Barbara’s nicest restaurant views is at Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach.  The food and drinks are delish to your taste buds, as the stunning views are a feast to your eyes, especially at Sunset!  However, the Boathouse does not take reservations, so you could be waiting for a long time for a table.  If you have your dog with you, be sure to reserve one of the tables that cozies up to the beach, so your pup can sit with you.  You will enjoy watching families playing on the beach, surfers catching waves, kayakers gliding through the deep blue, and dogs chasing after their tennis balls. Address: 2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109; (805) 898 -2628.
The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach/Santa Barbara (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)
  1. DELICIOUS ITALIAN FOOD AL FRESCO – If your Mom craves some tasty Italian food, then Ca’Dario Montecito is the place to be!  They have al fresco dining on a charming street filled with restaurants and shops.  We really love their pizza!  Their delicious Italian dishes really hit the spot after a day of frolicking around Santa Barbara. **Make reservations soon, as spots fill up quickly.**  Address: 1187 Coast Village Rd. Unit C, Montecito, CA 93108; (805) 884-9419 x2.
  1. KAYAKING TOGETHER – Next to the  Santa Barbara Harbor, drive over to Paddle Sports Center to rent some kayaks!  Enjoy a couple of hours of kayaking in the Santa Barbara harbor and under the pier.  There is a small “island” at the end of the breakwater barrier.  You can land your kayak, walk around, and take some photos.  They also offer tandem kayaks, standup paddle boards, boogie boards, and surfboards.  Reservations are not required but recommended, and can be made online.  Address: 117 Harbor Way, Suite B, Santa Barbara, CA 93109; (805) 617-3425.
Kayaking the Santa Barbara Harbor with a kayak rental from Paddle Sports Center/Santa Barbara. PC: Barbara Veronika Photography
  1. GO ON A BEAR HUNT – OK, no bears on this hunt.    Santa Barbara Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour provides a fun opportunity for a self-guided tour through historic Downtown Santa Barbara.  According to their website, you and your group will solve “22 fun puzzles and challenges”, which will take you to introduce you to different art, history, and beautiful architecture.  The tour lasts about 1 ½ to 2 hours, covering over two miles of walking. Address: 1031 State St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.  Their website recommends parking “in or near the free City Parking Lot #3 at 32 W Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Parking in that lot is free for 75 minutes then relatively inexpensive after that.”
  1. ATTENTION FOODIES! – Take Mom on a Food Tour!  On Stearn’s Wharf, check out Eat This, Shoot That.  They provide the Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone food tour.  This 3-hour tour takes you to the Funk Zone neighborhood, where you will taste unique foods and drinks from up to 8 different restaurants!  You will feel like you just enjoyed lunch!  Bring your comfy walking shoes and a camera (smartphone work too!) to learn some food photography tips and tricks, as well as snapping the creative street art in the area!  Children 6 years and up are welcome to join in on the fun. **Please be aware that, as of this publishing, there are no reservations available on Mother’s Day.**  Purchase your reservations on their website.  They will then send you the starting point in your confirmation e-mail.  (805) 699-6719.
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Street Art in The Funk Zone/Santa Barbara (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)
  1. DO YOU SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM? Be sure to grab some McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream to enjoy some fun and creative flavors.  According to their website, their creative flavors consist of “vanilla grapefruit, earl grey & shortbread, honey & cornbread cookies, eureka lemon & marionberries, sprinkle cake, and chocolate-covered strawberries!”  Need I say more about the fun flavors?  You can grab a scoop and walk down State Street to window shop, or sit and people watch. Address: The Funk Zone – 120 State St. Suite B, Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 324-4061; 728 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 324-4402.
  1. TAKE A TROLLEY TOUR – Enjoy a City Historical Tour of Santa Barbara with a fun, entertaining, and educational 90-minute tour with Santa Barbara Trolley Company.  It is a great way to get an overview of some of the things to do in Santa Barbara, so you can decide which places to visit!  You get to see and hear about Santa Barbara without driving.  Buy your tickets on their website.  With your ticket purchase, you will receive a coupon for local sites and 20% off of Wheel Fun Rentals! Address: 1 Garden St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 965-0353.
  1. GET A LITTLE ARTSY!   Santa Barbara Art Glass offers a 30-minute glassblowing tour, which provides a small piece at the end of the tour.  Please call to schedule. 15 person limit per tour. You can also create your own piece by participating in a glassblowing class.  Call about class times and prices.  And, of course, you can purchase different, creative artisan items in their studio! Address: 706 E. Mason St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101; (805) 965-1541.
  1. EXPLORE THE DIFFERENT BEACHES AND PARKS OF SANTA BARBARA1000 Steps Beach, Mesa Lane Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach County Park (Hendry’s Beach), Butterfly Beach, Shoreline Park, and Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.  Enjoy a stroll on the shore, looking at the beautiful rock formations and tide pools at 1000 Steps Beach.  Watch the surfers and interesting cliff formations at Mesa Lane Beach. Play catch with your dog off the leash, frolic in the water with your family, or enjoy a meal beach side (Boatside at Hendry’s Beach) at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park (Hendry’s Beach).  Spend the day on the beach or walk/ride your bike on the path to see amazing views at Butterfly Beach.  Walk on the mile-long path and take in the cliffs side views at Shoreline Park.   And, finally, walk though the beautiful garden at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.   Don’t forget your camera to capture some beautiful photos to take home to remember your time together with family, friends or your solo adventure!

**With all of these beaches, be sure to check the tide schedule, so you can visit during low tide.  Santa Barbara beaches are covered with water during high tide.** 

Addresses: 1000 Steps Beach – 1 Santa Cruz Boulevard,Santa Barbara, CA 93109; Mesa Lane Beach – 2341 Edgewater Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109; Arroyo Burro Beach County Park (Hendry’s Beach) – 2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109; Butterfly Beach – 1260 Channel Drive, Montecito, CA; Shoreline Park – 1237 Shoreline Dr. Santa Barbara, CA 93109; Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens – 1557 – 1567 Garden St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.


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Arroyo Burro Beach County Park (Hendry’s Beach)/Santa Barbara (PC: Barbara Veronika Photography)

Whichever activity that you decide to try out, be sure to keep this list handy and share it with others, so you can come back throughout the years to get a taste, sip, glimpse, and experience Santa Barbara, in a way that will bring a smile to you Mom’s face!


***Oh What Fun It Is To Explore – Go Enjoy & Make Some Memories***


** Please know that Santa Barbara may be very crowded on Mother’s Day, so plan accordingly.  Please confirm all addresses, phone numbers, websites, and reservation/tickets purchases, before making your plans, as things may have changed after publishing this article.** 

Happy Exploring!!

One thought on “20 Things to do for mother’s day in Santa Barbara

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