Five Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors Around Santa Barbara

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Gwendolyn Wu
Executive Content Editor

While the fall equinox officially begins on Thursday, the best part about living in sunny Santa Barbara is that the weather will never let you down. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons why people choose to come to the University of California, Santa Barbara over other campuses. Only one other UC can boast about being close enough to a beach to enjoy water sports, after all.

It’s difficult to enjoy 70-degree weather from inside a classroom, though. Isla Vista Recreation and Parks maintains a treasure trove of parks that don’t get enough love, and there are many other hidden spots where students can enjoy a day out. For those fortunate enough to live in Isla Vista (and even those who live on-campus or in downtown Santa Barbara), there are plenty of places to soak up the last of the summer rays.

Campus Point Rentals

Although technically located on the UCSB campus, people who weren’t able to cram their surfboards into their apartments and dorm rooms can experience the Pacific Ocean with the help of the Rec Cen’s rental service. The Rec Cen provides rentals for camping equipment and water sports for a nominal fee.

See that big trailer sitting at the entrance to Campus Point? Employees rent out water equipment there to anyone, and there’s even a discount for students. As of press time, it’s only $25 to rent a kayak or surfboard for the whole day with a UCSB student ID.

Tierra de Fortuna Park

Anyone who took Earth Science 7, also known as Dinosaurs, knows that the massive creatures inhabited the Earth millions of years ago. However, anyone can recreate Jurassic Park by venturing out to the end of Fortuna Road, where Tierra de Fortuna Park is located. A large stegosaurus, merry-go-round and see-saw are some of its highlights.

Families will sometimes spend their days there, but it’s a fairly deserted park where visitors can enjoy the playground. Tierra de Fortuna Park is also located on the far edge of West Campus, and is a short walk away from Sands Beach.

Goleta Butterfly Grove

People willing to venture past the western edge of Isla Vista are in for a surprise when they get past Sands Beach. Butterflies swarm the Ellwood Bluffs neighborhood from mid-November to mid-February, and there are docents there from 11 to 2 p.m. during those months to guide visitors through the grove.

Throughout the other eight months of the year, students head out that way to get in a round of morning exercise. Although a little far from UCSB’s campus, there is free parking and many students find it worth the early morning ‘hike’ or run.

Inspiration Point (and Other Hikes)

Hiking enthusiasts won’t be starved of adventure when moving in at UCSB. The classic hike that most undertake is the 3.5-mile round trip trek to Inspiration Point, which eventually ends with a beautiful view overlooking the Pacific Ocean, city of Santa Barbara, and on a clear day, the Channel Islands. Along the way, hikers might see lizards and happy dogs panting after their owners.

There are many other popular hiking trails throughout the hills above Santa Barbara, like Knapp’s Castle and Gaviota Peak. While it will be a little difficult to get to without a car, many students go on weekends, making it easy to connect with someone and become hiking buddies.

Lane Farms Pumpkin Patch

Santa Barbara’s very own pumpkin patch opens for the season on Sep. 30, inviting families and friends to come pick pretty orange squash and shop for fresh produce. It’s a popular spot for residence hall RAs to take their residents to, and a fun place to take photos. Ignore the pumpkins sitting outside of Albertsons in favor of supporting a local farm stand.

Lane Farms also offers many other fall fun staples, like a corn maze, hayrides and farm animals. Students can get there via the SBMTD 11 bus, and the patch is located at 308 S. Walnut Lane, right off Hollister Avenue.