Jul 11

The Santa Barbara Bucket List

You know that cliche saying, “Live every day like it’s your last”, or something along those lines? I’ve been looking at the world that way a bit lately. No, no, I don’t have a terminal illness, don’t get your panties in a bunch (or throw a party just yet), but I guess I should add “in Santa Barbara” to the end of that phrase and it would be appropriate.

Some of you know about the very big move I have planned after Christmas; for those who don’t, I’ll leave you hanging for now. Oh, the suspense is killing you, I know! I’ll tell you about it soon, I promise, because I have a hard time keeping my big mouth shut for long. But either way, let it be known that my days of living in the glorious Santa Barbara (or anywhere near it) are limited, and it is starting to weigh on me. Heavily.

Santa Barbara Knapp's Castle


As we sat on the rooftop patio, bundled up in blankets and snuggling up next to each other, singing patriotic songs at the top of our lungs while fireworks danced in the sky in the near distance, I looked around at my friends and soaked in the moment. This would be my last Independence Day in this country for a while (spoiler alert!) and I was suddenly overcome with a sadness and longing, like I already missed them and this place. These faces– this dysfunctional, hilarious, loving, crazy, and slightly incestuous little family I’ve created for myself– make me wonder why I’m planning to leave this town I love to go to the other end of the world to a land where I literally don’t know a soul. I guess that’s the beauty of the quarter life crisis; figuring it out doesn’t always make sense.

Friends on Fourth of July

With all that being said, I’ve decided I want to take advantage of each and every opportunity this town has to offer and create as many wacky and wonderful memories with my friends as I can before I take off–which has lead to the creation of the Santa Barbara Bucket List. I have listed out all of the fun experiences I can think of that are to be had in this area; some of them I have already done in the past, though that doesn’t mean that I won’t do them again, and I’ll try to write a post about each one as I check it off the list.

Not a local, just visiting Santa Barbara for the weekend? A lot of these are perfect tourist activities. Already live here but looking for some new ideas, or maybe you have some out of town friends visiting and you’re not sure what to do with them? This list might just have an answer for you.

Without further adieu, I present to you my

Santa Barbara Bucket List:

Waterfront Activities:

1. Water Sports: Learn to surf!  Paddle board! Kayak out of the harbor! (almost completed– I’ve paddle boarded and kayaked, still need to learn to surf!)

2. Ride the Land Shark

3. Rent and ride a surrey (4-6 person bike thingie) around the waterfront (completed–on my birthday and the day was epic)

4. Take a boat to the Channel Islands and hike on an island (completed)

5. Walk along Stearns Wharf and eat ice cream, chocolate, and clam chowder in a bread bowl (completed)

6. Take a coastal cruise on the Double Dolphin or the Condor Express (completed)

7. Buy something at the Art Stroll on the waterfront on Sundays (completed)

8. Take a sailing lesson (completed)

On board the Double Dolphin coastal cruise in Santa Barbara

Surrounding Areas Activities:

9. Eat a tri tip sandwich and listen to music at the historic Cold Springs Tavern (completed)

10. See Lotusland in Montecito

11. Take a dip in the pools at Red Rock

12. Put the “World’s Safest Beach” in Carpinteria to the test

13. Surf Rincon (or at least just go watch the other surfers and see what the big deal is) (completed–the watching part anyway–stil can’t surf)

14. Explore the tide pools on Isla Vista beaches (completed)

15. Visit the Bird Sanctuary in Summerland

16. Buy an egg and don’t get pecked at the ostrich farm in Santa Ynez (completed)

17. See Knapp’s Castle at sunrise or sunset

Red Rock Santa Ynez River

Photo Credit: Steven Pinker

Other Sights/Places to Visit:
18. Visit the Botanic Garden

19. View Santa Barbara from Franceschi Park on the Riviera (completed–Mac’n’Cheese Man took me)

20. Tour the Santa Barbara Zoo (completed)

21. Drive the scenic Highway 192

22. See a show at the Granada and Arlington Theaters (completed)

23. See a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl (completed)

Santa Barbara American Riviera

Photo Credit: Jim Corwin


Miscellaneous Shenanigans (probably my favorite category)

24. Taste cupcakes at every venerable cupcake establishment and determine the area’s BEST CUPCAKE (in progress– many cupcakes consumed so far)

25. Go the the Spearmint Rhino–with coupons from the Independent (because yes, my friend Julie assures me that there are coupons for a strip joint in the local newspaper)

26. Hike every major named trail in the Santa Barbara area–and drink a beer at the top (in progress–a few hikes with beers completed)

27. View the tranny hookers on Haley in action (no, not like in “real action”–that’s gross–just, you know, see them picking someone up) (completed)

28. Eat at Freebirds in Isla Vista (and reminisce on the good old days) (completed)

29. Wear a big hat to see a match at the Polo Fields

30. Hang out at the nude beach

31. Ride a trolley to see the Christmas lights around town (completed)

32. Throw tortillas at a UCSB soccer game 

33. Drink wine at every establishment in the wine ghetto

34. Eat as much ice cream and wow cow fro yo as humanly possible at McConnells (this may never be completed because I can always eat more ice cream!)

Wine and cupcakes Santa Barbara



























35. Santa Barbara Historical Museum

36. Santa Barbara Museum of Art (completed)

37. Museum of Natural History (completed)

38. Maritime Museum (completed)

39. Stagecoach Museum (completed– I crashed a wedding there but unfortunately have no photos)

40. Surfboard Museum

Foyer of Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Photo Credit: J. Sinclair/Courtesy of the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Buereau & Film Commission

Historic Sights:

41. Tour the inside of the Mission

42. Tour the Courthouse and view Santa Barbara from the Tower (completed)

43. Rancho La Patera and Stowe House (completed)


I have six three months to complete my bucket list. Think I can do it? Have something to add? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

  • Sam

    OH my god, I miss SB so much. I need to come and do the SB bucket list with you!! The land shark! I’ve always wanted to do that! The harbor.. ahhh… I miss it and you!

    • I miss you too! You definitely need to try to come to SB one more time (like, for more than an hour and on a day when I’m free) and we can cross some things off the list! We can take Taj to the surf board museum since he’s gonna be a pro surfer some day anyway…

  • Jeanne Mohle

    You should do a tandem paraglide ride from the top of the mountain. An excellent way to get a bird’s eye view of Santa Barbara!

    • Yes, I actually really want to go hang gliding since I’ve never done that. I’ll have to add those options to the list!

  • keeley

    You should stalk some montecito celebs! I know where Rob Lowe gets coffee . . .

    • Oooh, and try to break into Periwinkle Lane? And I’m pretty sure Kristen would buy you ice cream for the rest of your life if you told her where she could stalk Rob Lowe…

  • I somehow stumbled onto your blog…don’t even remember what I clicked on to get me here. Anyway, I’m a Santa Barbara local myself, and I LOVE the idea of creating a Santa Barbara Bucket List. So I hope you don’t mind, but I’m totally copying your idea and creating a SB bucket list! Thanks for the great idea!!

    • kaleenamq

      Well, thanks for stumbling by! 😉 I’m so glad you’re making one too, let me know how it goes and what you add to it! I’m always up for new ideas of fun things to do in SB. How long have you been in town?

      • I’ve lived here for just over two years now. Looking through your list, I’ve got a lot to do! I’m working on my list now and I can’t wait to actually start doing this stuff! I’ll definitely let you know how it goes. Thanks again for the idea!