For more than 20 years, Channel Islands Outfitters's Paddle Sports Center has helped humans commune with nature through their guided expeditions, courses, and gear rentals. Their expert guides lead kayakers and hikers to California destinations such as Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island, where explorers enjoy picturesque scenery and native wildlife that haven’t yet learned about sarcasm. The outdoor fitness center also offers instruction for outdoorsmen ranging from courses that cultivate Wilderness First Responders to lessons in the art of standup paddleboarding. Meanwhile, their surf shop doles out aquatic equipment such as surfboards, paddleboards, and an array of kayaks that are available in single-seat or tandem models.
In 1917, the Ranger was a sport-fishing yacht—the first built on the West Coast—that hosted celebrities trying their luck at snagging tuna, swordfish, and other swimmers. Flash forward nearly a century, and the Ranger is now a lure, one of several vintage boats that entice visitors to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Inside a former Naval Reserve building, the museum traces the history of the California Coast seas, from cannons to seaplanes and surfing to the environment. The Munger Theater brings the sea to life with films that could feature maritime history or a trip around the coast, and lectures and other events further enrich the experience.
Family owned and operated since 1923, Metropolitan Theatres unspools blockbuster and art-house independent films at 19 locations in the U.S. and Canada using superior film presentation and digital sound systems. Theatre concession stands dole Coca-Cola products and detonate kernels of popcorn to fill bellies and share with encroaching Godzillas. Snacks in hand, customers sink into seats inside conventional or stadium-style theatres to laugh, gasp, and grimace at star-studded titles, such as The Grey, War Horse, or Hugo. Independent films such as The Artist and The Descendants appease creative tastes.
State Street Ballet's lithe dancers gracefully pirouette to classical masterpieces during performances modernized with special effects and digital technology. The season's first show, Starry Night, celebrates Vincent van Gogh's art in a multimedia performance that juxtaposes art, music, theater, dance, and text from the post-Impressionist's recovered Twitter feeds. Choreographed by celebrated dancesmith William Soleau, the ballet aims to mimic the flow of oil paint across a canvas through dancers’ movement as videos project a backdrop of collaged paintings and letters. The surfaces of the recently renovated Granada Theatre are also draped with art, from Moorish-inspired geometric patterns on the golden walls to decorative niches imbued with Old World grandeur.
At the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, visitors of all ages delight in newfound knowledge about the community around them, soaking up information from a wealth of permanent collections, artifacts, and art. Guests marvel at beautiful Chumash baskets and stonework, paintings and armor from Spanish settlements, and relics of life in Santa Barbara during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History seeks to educate its visitors about the world around them through in-depth exhibits on nature, wildlife, and native cultures. A 72-foot blue-whale skeleton stares down and Chumash Indian relics wait for their secrets to be uncovered. Traverse these halls to see everything from outer space, fossils to bears and a nature trail.