In 2000, Jennifer Best quit her job as education reporter for the Santa Maria Times to be a full-time parent. But it wasn’t long before she was back at the writing game, this time penning weekly features for the paper on family-friendly activities. Her what-to-do stories were popular with readers, who wondered if there was a guide in which she found out about the places she described. There wasn’t, so Best wrote one. In 2006, her Best Family Adventures: San Luis Obispo was published. Four years later and Best has put together another guide, this time for all of Santa Barbara County.
Clearly written, well organized, and vast in its inclusion of activities inclusions, Best Family Adventures: Santa Barbara County is an easy-to-follow guide of entertaining ways — both indoor and outdoor — for you and yours to spend time. “This is a guide to all things family-friendly,” Best writes. “You can take your children or your pastor, your conservative grandmother or your future in-laws to any of these venues and have a perfectly wonderful time.”
Chapters are laid out by cities — from Carpinteria to Guadalupe — with additional sections dedicated to “Los Padres National Forest” and “Outlying Areas & Day Trips.” Each chapter is then divided into five subcategories: Letters, Arts, History, Nature, and Other Adventures. City sections begin with an encapsulation of its history before launching into the myriad subcategories. Particularly useful is the resource section: 26 pages with information ranging from suggestions of the best outdoor guide books to annual celebrations to telephone numbers for a slew of organizations in the various cities.
According to Best, “This adventure guide is meant to be tossed in your backpack, left on the coffee table, spilled on, marked up, dog-eared and otherwise abused.…The point of it is to get out and explore all that Santa Barbara County has to offer.”