Group travel in Santa Barbara, CA, is a thing. That means everything from discounts for group activities to spacious accommodations perfect for your collective VIPeeps (more on that later). It’s little wonder, considering there is so much that falls under the “fabulous” column here; it would be a shame not to share it with as many of your favorite people as possible. And the way you experience it with your tribe — whether that’s the kids or your golf buddies — makes it endlessly appealing, as well. From the Santa Ynez Mountains to the wide, sandy beaches and all the amazing wine tasting and spa-induced pampering in between, Santa Barbara is one of those places you can make your own in oh-so-many ways, making it perfect for any more-the-merrier special occasion.
With our Canary Hotel right in the heart of the city and just a few steps or pedal pushes from the buzz of State Street, we’re experts on what’s happening in Santa Barbara. Here are some of our pro tips for you and your group.
Family Friendlier: Traveling With Kids in Santa Barbara
Whether you’ve got toddlers or teens in tow, Santa Barbara is your new BBFF (that’s baby-sitting best friend forever), trust us. The little ones will be wide-eyed with wonder at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where they can play junior scientist and have some hands-on fun at the museum’s Curiosity Lab. Or check out the museum’s Sea Center, located at Stearns Wharf, where kids can crawl through a specially designed tunnel inside a 1,500-gallon tide-pool tank. Yowza!
And make time for the Santa Barbara Zoo, where besides visiting the elephants and giraffes, kids can ogle a 15-foot-long animatronic T-Rex named Duncan who puts on a heck of a stage show. The family-friendly list is long in Santa Barbara but has to include whale watching with great local outfits like Condor Express and hopping on a few of the Canary’s free bikes for a leisurely family ride on the beachfront Cabrillo Bikeway.
Pour It On: Wine and Craft Beer Experiences
If you’re coming to town with your wine-loving friends or your brew crew, you don’t even need to leave the city limits to tap into the some of the very best wine and craft-beer tasting opportunities in all of California.
Wine enthusiasts just need to remember this name: the Urban Wine Trail. Located in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, a re-imagined former light-industrial area just a mile from the Canary, this is where you can enjoy some of Santa Barbara wine country’s best tasting rooms, run by top local vintners like Carr Winery. And since one of California’s most celebrated wine regions is just a cork’s throw away, you’ll want to set off on a wine-tinted adventure in nearby AVA’s like the Santa Ynez Valley. It’s as simple as downloading this free touring guide provided by the Santa Barbara Vintners’ Association. Then again, maybe like a lot of wine lovers, the Oscar-winning movie Sideways was your intro to Santa Barbara wines. You can visit the film’s memorable locations with this free guide. (Note: The “spit bucket moment” is not encouraged.)
If your group is more about Pilsner than Pinot, you can tap into the local microbrewery scene with ease, too. Make time to visit popular local breweries like the Funk Zone’s Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. and Telegraph Brewing Co., or opt in for our Brew-mance package and get tasting vouchers for those breweries and others, as well as a bucket of craft beers when you arrive (you can book it right here). You’ll discover that when it comes to small-batch beer, Santa Barbara’s cup definitely runneth over.
Golf: Let’s Talk Tee Time
You’re planning a golf vacation with your favorite foursome and the requirements are pretty simple: Exceptional courses paired with a fantastic array of 19th-hole activities. The good news is that Santa Barbara makes it all a chip shot. Santa Barbara has become a top golf destination, featuring six public courses, some designed by the likes of Robert Trent Jones Jr. Just a warning, though — one of your biggest challenges here won’t be a fairway’s tree line, but the amazing ocean views that might distract you. However the competition goes (and even if the drinks are on you), you always come out the winner thanks to the incredible array of restaurants and bars where you can discuss the day and plan the next round.
Land of Ahhs: Yoga, Spa and Wellness
There’s something about Santa Barbara that makes you feel healthier just by being there. Maybe it’s the farmers markets brimming with fresh fruit and produce, the refreshing sea breezes, or the fact there are so many options to keep you fit and fabulous. Whatever moves you, you’re right to choose Santa Barbara for that girls’ yoga get-away or an active escape with like-minded couples.
It starts with your accommodations at the Canary, where you can get the downward dogs flowing right in your room with complimentary yoga mats. If you want to step it up, the Canary has partnered with Santa Barbara’s top-rated fitness facility, Bay Club, where your whole group can get a free workout or yoga class as a guest privilege. Beyond the hotel, there are multiple studios, gyms and outfitters where you can practice everything from hot yoga to stand-up paddle-boarding to keep everyone moving and grooving. Speaking of which, you can even hit the beach and try SUP every Wednesday morning with the Canary’s GM.
After all this activity, you’re going to be ready for a little pampering, so make sure to work in some spa time for your group as well. There are plenty of indulgent day spas to choose from — there’s a spa per square mile in wellness-loving Santa Barbara — so search here to create your bliss shortlist.
Share the Experience in Style
So you have the perfect destination for your group and a comprehensive list of activities and adventures to make the experience more than memorable. Now you just need an equally fabulous place to call home in Santa Barbara. Solution? The Canary’s Nesting Suites. These three-bedroom suites are big enough to accommodate your favorite people in the world, but offer privacy, too, with separate hallways and spacious living rooms so you can spread out in style. Add luxe touches like our generous list of in-room amenities and Mediterranean-inspired furnishings (including canopy beds and hardwood floors), and you can see why the Canary is your suite solution for group travel in Santa Barbara.
Photos: Santa Barbara —Visit Santa Barbara