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Graduation in Santa Barbara: Favorite Activities from an Alum

*Originally posted June 2, 2012

Things to do in Santa Barbara

It’s 70 degrees with a light coastal breeze, and the sun doesn’t set till 8 pm. Yep, it’s that time of year! School is ending, and not just for the summer, for many of Santa Barbarians its graduation! Whether you are that lucky graduate or their loving family,  June marks that special time of year for commencement and celebration, and with this awesome weather where better to celebrate than outdoors? But with so little time, what to do?

If your coming up for the day…
take advantage of the coastal climate with a graduation picnic at Goleta Beach or Ledbetter. If a restaurant is more your style, there are a variety of delicious coastal dining options including the Beachside and Boathouse, or for other recommendations see Dinning and Santa Barbara.

So you’re here for the weekend…
and need something to do while your Gaucho is prepping for graduation? Then go Wine Tasting in Santa Barbara’s beautiful back yard, Santa Ynez, famous for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and more. Or wait till your grad is all done and go tasting with the whole gang for a group discount!

Coastal Kayaking is another great way to get outside and appreciate Santa Barbara’s rare beauty. Just north of Goleta is Naples and Gaviota, some of the last remaining undeveloped coast of southern California. At one of the only freeway exits along this stretch of coast is Refugio State Beach where you can escape and kayak, soaking up the benefits of this undeveloped rarity where harbor seals, dolphins, and sea lions call home.

If the plan is to make a week long holiday out of it…
then consider, is water or land more your thing? If the answer is land then camping might be just for you. Carpenteria, Refugio, El Capitan State Beaches are all still open for reservations. And if camping in comfort sounds more appealing, consider El Cap Canyon luxury cabins. Or its sister, Ocean Mesa campground, just inland of El Capitan State Beach, which offers a café, pool, and hot tub and showers to its campers, along with trailheads to several hiking trails into the hills.

Lastly but not least is my personal favorite, the sea caves at Santa Cruz. While the Channel Islands look great from Santa Barbara, nothing compares to the view paddling through the rugged and timeless caves at this rarely visited national park.

Spending a day away from the mainland was the last tick I made off my bucket list as a senior at UCSB. What’s on your graduate’s Santa Barbara bucket list?

Photo: Guide Jen Brown on her graduation day at UCSB.

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