Santa Barbara is one among the foremost beautiful beach towns on the western seaboard. Located about two hours north of l. a. , its history, mild climate and scenic beauty has deservedly earned its nickname of the “American Riviera“. Understandably, it’s got a reputation for catering to rich people. No worries, though. There are still many free things to try to to in Santa Barbara with kids. 1. Old Mission Santa Barbara A visit to the Queen of the Missions may be a must when visiting Santa Barbara . The 21 California Spanish missions were an integral part within the state’s history. Founded by the Franciscan priests, they were built as centers of spiritual and cultural activities but are now parishes and living museums. California’s fourth graders usually need to choose a mission for a project and my daughter picked this mission for her report last year. The expansive lawn ahead of the mission is fashionable families and sunbathers or kids who need wide open spaces to play tag.