Winter Outdoor Activity Guide

One of the most appealing attributes of Santa Barbara is its moderate year-round climate. Winter is a spectacular season to visit given the abundance of warm, sunny days and refreshingly crisp evenings. If we’re lucky, we’ll even get the occasional rainy day, which locals love for the change in mood and an excuse to get cozy—but you can’t keep us indoors for long! The American Riviera lifestyle is all about relishing in the great outdoors. And for the many active seniors and snowbirds who flock to our sandy shores during winter, there’s plenty of soft adventure and fresh air fun on tap to keep you feeling fit and energized. Following are 10 ways to make the most of Santa Barbara’s epic landscapes and revitalize mind, body and spirit this winter.

  1. Lawn Bowling:  Santa Barbara is home to two lawn bowl clubs whose welcome visiting players.Santa Barbara Lawn Bowls Club (1216 De La Vina) charges a nominal $5 a day including loaner balls. Mackenzie Park Lawn Bowls Club (Samarkand Drive) offers free lessons for those new to lawn bowling and requires a nominal fee to play as well.
  2. Golf:  Golfers swoon over our top-rated courses like Sandpiper Golf Club and Glen Annie Golf Club—both located in Goleta with awe-inspiring ocean and mountain views. Closer to our hotels in town, Santa Barbara Golf Club is the community’s public course known for its challenging play and affordable rates. Over in wine country, the River Course at the Alisal is another beautiful spot to play—and why not fit in some wine tasting afterwards?!
  3. Tennis & Pickleball:  The pickleball craze is alive and well here in Santa Barbara County and tennis remains a classic pastime, too. City Parks & Rec managed courts include Santa Barbara Municipal Tennis Center (1414 Park Place), Oak Park Tennis Courts and Pershing Park Tennis Courts (100 Castillo Street). Note that permits are required and non-resident daily fees are $5.
  4. Bocce Ball:  Locals in-the-know head to Arnoldi’sCafé (600 Olive Street) when they feel like pairing classic Italian fare with a game or two of bocce. Check their online schedule for league play info to ensure the two courts won’t be in use on your planned visit if it’s a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evening.
  5. Biking:  Complimentary bikes are available for guest use at our beach hotels, which are very close to the waterfront bike paths. For a little extra boost of power to ride farther and longer (and maybe tackle some hills!), electric bike share rentals are available in docks throughout town via Santa Barbara BCycle. Check out the station map to find the location nearest to your hotel.
  6. Birding:  Santa Barbara is a true birder’s paradise, so you’ll want to pack those binoculars! Santa Barbara Audubon Society funds the dedicated county birding online guide, which details where and when to find the most fascinating birds from the South and North Coast regions to the wine country and Channel Islands.
  7. Scenic Walks:  Lace up your walking shoes for a scenic stroll. Between the hiking trails, bike paths, parks and gardens, you’ll be spoilt for choice of beautiful, serene settings.Montecito’s Ennisbrook Trail is a local secret for a relatively easy walk that’s just under two miles round trip. Perched above Arroyo Burro Beach, the Douglas Family Preserve is another nice, flat option, while Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s 78-acres offers a variety of stone-paved and packed earthen trails through lovely native Californian landscapes (reservations required). And you can’t go wrong with a sunrise or sunset stroll along waterfront Cabrillo Boulevard.
  8. Kayaking:  If you’d like to get out on the water, rent a kayak from Santa Barbara Sailing Center or Paddle Sports Center—both down at the Harbor, which is a nice calm place for a paddle. Paddle Sports and Santa Barbara Adventure Company both lead private guided kayak tours for a more in-depth experience peppered with expert local knowledge.
  9. Sailing:  Book a sailing cruise with one of our local charter companies to savor fresh sea breezes, dolphin sightings and stunning coastal views. Top options include the Double Dolphin catamaran and the 16-passenger Sunset Kidd.
  10. Lap Swimming By the Sea:  While our hotels each have recreational swimming pools, lap swimmers will delight in the public outdoor pool, Los Banos Del Mar, located just a short walk from our beach properties. It’s open for public lap swimming Monday-Friday 7:30-9:00 a.m. and 12:00-2:00 p.m. Night swimmers can hit the pool between 7:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. And Saturday and Sunday hours are limited to 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.