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Parks and Recreation Offers Healthy Activity at a Safe Distance during Pandemic

Swimming, Tennis, Walks, and Hikes Popular with the Santa Barbara Community

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Barbarans have sought ways to get some healthy exercise without endangering themselves or the community, and the City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department has stepped in to help fill this need. Swimming at Los Baños del Mar, the City’s only Olympic-length public pool, has proved extremely popular, as has tennis at the Municipal Tennis Center and Oak Park tennis courts. Beaches and walking paths in parks are great options for getting a breath of fresh air, and hiking trails such as those at Cold Springs, Stevens Park and Rattlesnake Canyon can host more vigorous workouts as walkers and runners observe responsible social distancing as they exercise.

“We are working hard to make sure the Santa Barbara community has options for healthy activity,” said Rich Hanna, Recreation Programs Manager at the Parks and Recreation Department. “We’ve had to reconfigure swimming and tennis to make them safe for participants and our staff, and I’m proud of the work our staff has done to stay flexible and adaptable in making these low-cost options possible in a safe way.”

Swimming and Tennis

Since swimming resumed at Los Baños del Mar in May, pool hours were extended and all available swim slots have been filled while in compliance with Santa Barbara County Public Health Department Health Officer Orders. An online sign-up system releases swim times for the upcoming week on Monday evenings, with each swimmer allowed a maximum of two slots per week. Since re-opening a total of 1,128 hours of swimming time has been made available. This represents and 598 hours of time for public lap swim and masters swimming, and 530 hours of time for organized youth swim club practice and water polo conditioning, or 13,536 swim times. Swimmers who have used Los Baños have expressed overwhelmingly positive feedback from swimmers.

Similarly, six Municipal tennis and 12 Municipal pickleball courts plus two Oak Park tennis and pickleball courts have been hopping, serving approximately 2,800 tennis and pickleball players per week. Since re-opening Municipal tennis and pickleball courts on April 28, a total of 23,562 hours of court time has been made available for the community’s use. This represents 7,854 hours of tennis court time and 15,708 hours of pickleball court time. Tennis and pickleball players have expressed overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding the tennis and pickleball courts' availability seven days a week, 11 hours per day.

To sign up for swimming at Los Baños, visit Each week’s worth of swim times are released Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m.

To sign up for tennis times, visit

Walks and Hikes

Parks such as Shoreline Park and the Douglas Family Preserve contain gentle walking paths, which may be used by people in pairs as long as a physical distance of six feet is maintained at all times. Those looking for a slightly more vigorous workout can try parks such as Stevens Park, Rattlesnake Canyon, and Gould Park for hiking trails—maintaining physical distance and making room for others passing on the trails. Consider taking a copy of the new Parks and Recreation Map of Santa Barbara when you set out, so you can easily find a new place to walk or hike if your original destination seems crowded. Remember that group activities are not allowed in parks at this time, and masks are required when hikers are passing on narrow sections of the trail.


Dogs and their owners have three options for off-leash fun: the fenced-in off-leash dog area at MacKenzie Park, Hale Park, and the Douglas Family Preserve. Dogs are allowed on-leash in many areas, including the Arroyo Burro Open Space and West Beach.

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2018
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