Family Fitness Fun

With School Out, Why Stay In?

Summertime in Santa Barbara spells longer days to play and an endless array of outdoor activities. Here are some recommendations when it comes to embracing fun and fitness while creating happy and healthy family memories.


A Proper Paddling
Explore the Channel Islands National Park, internationally recognized for endemic wildlife specifically adapted to its isolated environment. Just off the coast of Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Island is also home to a rich cultural heritage. Discover the legacy of the Chumash Indians and Colonial Spanish, and explore geologically spectacular sea caves. With an entrance ceiling of 160 feet, Painted Cave is one of the largest and longest in the world, making it the star attraction in Santa Barbara Adventure Company’s popular kayaking tours. Foreign, corporate, educational, and local groups alike come to enjoy the magic of viewing native Channel Island Foxes; sea lions; harbor seals; and Blue, Gray, and Humpback whales. There’s even the occasional army of leaping dolphins migrating through the channel to capture attention. So gather your little land-lubbers and join Rachel Harvey and the Santa Barbara Adventure Company crew in “sharing the wonder of the island and nature of Santa Barbara.”
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Swell Times 
Take advantage of Santa Barbara’s fabulous weather and breathtaking beaches by taking a lesson with A-frame Surf Shop. Group and private surf lessons cover all the essentials, from reading conditions and proper surf etiquette to timing the wave, paddling, and standing. Highly skilled and with contagious enthusiasm, the small team of instructors have helped hundreds of students—from ages 4 to 80 years-old—ride their first wave.

“The best part of my job is meeting new people and seeing them happily freak-out when they catch their first wave,” says co-owner Sam Holcombe without hesitation. And if the rave reviews on Yelp are any indication, Sam, Rob, and the rest of the team are top-notch.
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Run for It
What better way to power through the mid-week hump than with a fun run with friends and family? Nite Moves, a weekly summer race series from May to September, is celebrating its twenty-fourth season. With the beautiful Leadbetter Beach as its venue, Nite Moves has become a nexus for Santa Barbara’s active community.

This increasingly popular summer tradition offers a five-kilometer run/walk and/or a one-kilometer ocean swim for all ages. The after-party that follows features live music, locally catered food, McConnell’s Ice Cream, a beer garden, and raffle prizes! And for the those aged five to eleven years-old, there’s a one-mile run as well.
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Get Up, Stand Up 
Can’t surf? No problem! Try stand-up paddleboarding with Channel Islands Outfitters. Hitting these shores from Hawaii five years ago, the sport has been steadily winning over fans up and down the coast. Paddleboarders can travel longer distances and catch more waves in a given period than most traditional surfers, and all while getting a killer low-impact, full-body workout. that also concentrates on the core.

The local shop’s co-owner Fraser Kerser admits, “It’s become the sexy sport. Young women love it as they can get toned and tan while hopping in and out of the water.” But the most amazing aspect by far is the view. “You get an entirely different perspective standing up as it allows you to see six feet below the glossy surface to kelp beds and marine creatures,” says Kerser. In fact, spotting sea lions, fish, harbor seals, pelicans, humpback whales, and dolphins is extremely common. So stand up and be counted among the pursuits growing list of participants.
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Head for the Hills
Stretch your legs and drink in the scenery of the Santa Barbara frontcountry while hiking with the Sierra Club! The casual group offers four hikes a week, each to a local trail. The routes are rated on their Web site from easy to strenuous and include diverse terrain with rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, canyons, beaches, meadows, forests, and refreshing vista points. 

Knowledgeable guides will serve as liaisons between you and the teeming myriad of flora with quirky monikers—such as Sticky Monkey-flower and Crinkly Onion—as colorful as their characteristically faint-orange tapering petals or elegant, purple bundles. So treat the family to Santa Barbara’s winding paths and vibrant greenery for an exercise in environmental education…emphasis on exercise.
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Wheel Fun Workouts
Bicycles are just the beginning at Wheel Fun Rentals on East Cabrillo. They also offer tandems, quad sports, rollerblades, double surreys, and more for your pedaling pleasure. Take the kids on a cruise down Cabrillo’s bike path, a 4.5-mile long stretch with the beach on one side and lively downtown Santa Barbara on the other.

An antique carousel, classical fountains, a palm tree-lined park, the zoo, and a shipwreck-themed playground are some of the colorful sites that light your way from Stearns Wharf to the Bird Refuge and back. Pretend you’re in the Tour or take your time and break at the Bathhouse or beach.
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Top photograph by Kevin Steele. Hiking photograph by Craig R. Carey.

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