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10 Free Things To Do Around UC Santa Barbara

10 Free Things To Do Around UC Santa Barbara

Don’t worry Gauchos, I’ve Gaucho back! Here are 10 FREE things to do around UC Santa Barbara for you to enjoy when you want to give your wallet a break.

Hey, Gauchos! Whether you’re an incoming student or a continuing student, we can all agree that college is expensive and we definitely don’t have the funds to be going out and spending crazy amounts of money any time we want to have a fun time. So how can you have fun without having to pay? It seems like nowadays everything has some kind of hidden fee. Don’t worry Gauchos, I’ve Gaucho back! Here are 10 FREE things to do around UC Santa Barbara for you to enjoy when you want to give your wallet a little break.

1. Visit the Art, Design & Architecture Museum right on campus!

Did you know that our school has an Art Museum right on campus? Right next to the lagoon stairs and the colorful art wall lies an amazing museum! There are various events and exhibitions that UCSB sponsors that are all free for UCSB students to enjoy! The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 PM to 5 PM and Thursdays from 12 PM to 8 PM. 

2. Stearns Wharf

It’s one of the most popular destinations in Santa Barbara among tourists and it offers great views from off the pier!


3. Hike to Inspiration Point

Inspiration Point offers a beautiful view of the city of Santa Barbara, the ocean, and the Channel Islands plain in sight. The most common route that takes about 1-2 hours stars on Tunnel Road just past the Santa Barbara Mission. There’s even free parking in surrounding areas, but you can also try busing it there!

4. Coronado Butterfly Preserve

From late October through early March and open from sunrise to sunset, you can see Monarch butterflies migrate for free! The preserve is not only a home for Monarchs but also to birds and other wildlife.

5. Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara

Located in West Beach, this free museum exhibits collections of preserved and restored carriages in the nation as well as authentic army and circus carriages. They offer a collection of saddles that were owned by the famous Clark Gable, the Cisco Kid, Jimmy Stewart and more. This museum is free on weekdays!


6. 1st Thursday

Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara, the 1st Thursday of every month there is a free celebration of art and culture on State Street that exhibits shops, participating galleries, art-related venues, and free access to these exhibits and performances. There are live musics and lectures offered and guest participation is encouraged! You can plan your trip with a 1st Thursday Passport, which is a map that details your trip, that’s available at the Visitor’s center and online!

7. Alameda Park

This park located downtown offers a playground, wide and open areas to simply relax on the grass, picnic benches to have a romantic date or even catch up on a good book, and even offers gazebo shelters where musicians are often found playing! This park often hosts large city events like The Earth Day and Summer Solstice festivals.

8. Complete the Labyrinth

One of UCSB’s hidden treasures is the labyrinth that faces the sea right on campus! A labyrinth is a walking meditation that has been used since ancient times to calm the mind, relax the body, and revive the spirit by following this uninterrupted path to a center and back. It’s a stress reducer and a healing resource that allows one to let go of grief or loss and trauma. It’s a gift of inner peace and truly a work of art and the best part, it’s completely free! (When you go to the middle, clap your hands and hear the sensation!)


9. Explore Downtown

Downtown Santa Barbara is really just one bus ride away for UCSB students and it has so much to offer. From the booming city life as well as the beautiful parks and landmarks like the Courthouse or Old Missions that it has to offer, just walking through Downtown Santa Barbara is such a scenic, calming experience. Plug your headphones in and take a relaxing, beautiful walk or bring a friend along and have a meaningful conversation. Bring a book and read on a bench or at the park. Take scenic pictures or have a photoshoot with your friends! Downtown SB is so beautiful and has so much creative potential to offer.

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10. Knapp’s Castle Trail

Located in the mountains above Santa Barbara, there are the remains of an old castle that burned down more than 70 years ago called Knapp’s Castle. It’s about a 0.8 mile hike and offers one of the most scenic and beautiful views. (I suggest taking this hike closer to sunset and watch the sunset across the three arches!)


11. BONUS: Just go to the beach!

We go to a beach school, what’s more free than going to the beach right across the street?! If you’re bored of DP or Campus Point, take a walk or drive to Goleta Beach Park and hang out by the pier or go to Sands! You can never have enough beach pictures!

Best of luck, Gauchos!


What are some other free things to do around UC Santa Barbara? Let us know down below!
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