Car-less with a kid in Santa Barbara

Dolphins, cool sea breezes, Julia Child-blessed tacos, and no car keys to misplace. Those were a few of the highlights of our 3-day jaunt to Santa Barbara this month. I thought Jack’s best memory would be the ride on the 2nd level of the Pacific Surfliner, but he seemed to delight in everything. Not having a car turned out to be easier than I thought. We stayed at the Fess Parker Doubletree, which is directly across the street from the beach and a half-mile from the action of State Street. Whenever we wanted to go into town, we walked or took the 25 cent trolley that runs up and down Cabrillo Blvd. Our one splurge was renting a stroller for $45 from the Santa Barbara Baby Co. (they deliver), which turned out to be a great idea.

Here are some highlights from our child-centric weekend:

–Visited the Santa Barbara Zoo, a small but adequate zoo a block from Fess Parker. There’s a small train ride for the kids that’s an extra $2 or so.

–Stopped by Kid Zone, an old-fashioned playground (think lots of wood) near State Street. It was packed but a nice change from the usual plastic offerings.

–Ate on the patio at Super-Rica Taqueria, which was well worth the 20-30 minute wait. Best pozole I’ve ever had, plus handmade tortillas that are made to order. Jack ate every crumb of his chicken and cheese taco, then demanded some of our pork adobado and guacamole. Fun fact: Julia Child used to eat here when she lived in SB.

–Took a small boat called Lil’ Toot from the pier through the harbor. They let the kids take a turn steering for a few minutes. It’s a short ride, but good for small children. Cost: $4 adults, $1 kids.

–Had brunch on the beach at the East Beach Grill. Service was lousy (it was Sun. morning though), but the blueberry pancakes and oatmeal were better than average.

Tips for the train: Buy tickets at least 3 days early and you’ll be able to get a AAA discount. We intended to leave from Union Station, then found out you can park for free for 72 hours at Glendale station (which is closer to us anyway), so we just caught the train there. The only catch is you’ll have fewer seating choices (we ended up sitting across from the bathroom). Also, bring LOTS of snacks. There’s a cafe but the selection is mediocre.

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