Free Summer Activities in Santa Barbara

While we all want to enjoy the fun activities in Santa Barbara, we know these things can be expensive. Many of our guests at Marina Beach Motel ask us about free or inexpensive things to do in town — so we put together a little family-friendly list of options that’ll be easy on your budget.

Spend the day at the beach

When it’s only 37 steps from Marina Beach Motel, there’s no real excuse to slack on this one. We’ve got beautiful views and sunshine year-round. The “free” part is practically a bonus. Hang out under an umbrella with a good book, build some sandcastles, take those tacos to-go, or — of course — just go swimming.

Explore the Santa Barbara Museum of Art 

This lovely art museum houses a tremendous number of works from a vast range of periods, styles, and mediums. Admission is free for all from 5-8 PM on Thursdays.

Tour the Santa Barbara County Courthouse

As one of Santa Barbara’s oldest and most architecturally interesting structures, this building deserves your time. We recommend that visitors take a couple hours to learn about our local history and snap some photos for the road. The Courthouse is open to the public every day but Christmas. 

Check out the local art and music on 1st Thursdays

The first Thursday of every month, downtown Santa Barbara art galleries and other participating venues collectively present local art and music for the public to enjoy. Admission is free from 5-8 PM. This is the perfect relaxing summer evening — take in the local artwork, have a drink, and maybe find a few new souvenirs.

Wander through Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is our beautiful waterfront shopping and dining center. Although it’s free to wander around and revel in the views, you might not be able to resist buying up some of the many beautiful handmade goods (and food).

What are your own favorite free things to do when you visit Santa Barbara?

We’d love to hear from you! Find us on Facebook and Instagram for more news and fun from our neck of the woods — ahem, beach.