Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center Reviews

100 East Carrillo Street, Santa Barbara, CA

98%
families recommend
166 family reviews

Our Member Reviews:

The best entire family vacation spot
by blondee
We've been going to Santa Barbara Vacation Center for 6 years and we always return. Our kids are 7 and 11 and they look forward to it every summer. We adults enjoy the adult activities as well as the down time without the kids.
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The staff is always full of energy and willing to help. The kids group staff is great with the kids and the programs staff have activities for the adults that make them feel like a kid again.

Think of it as a cruise on land!!

Date of Stay: 07/25/2015
Children in Party: 2


Kids (3-6)
Tweens (10-12)
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Best Family Vacation! Fun for everyone!
by 4Punjabis
All of us, including mommy and daddy, had a great week and wished we could have stayed longer!

Upon arrival, you are greeted by very enthusiastic staff members who take your luggage up to your room while you review your week's itinerary with ... more another staff member. Meals are served in the Carrillo Dining Commons, a short walk from your room, served buffet style, which was heaven for my kids since they could sample every type of food offered!

We stayed during the week of 4th of July, and there is a shuttle that takes you to Goleta for the fireworks show. We started out our first night with a bang and the rest of the week just kept getting better!

We had signed up for the adult activities before our arrival, which I recommend doing since the wine and bike tours are very popular (well worth the day trip). My husband and I participated in the kayaking, wine tour, biking and hiking tours. We actually cancelled the 8 mile bike tour so we could explore Santa Barbara without the kids and have a nice dinner.

The only thing I wished I had known prior was that you can book babysitters in advance of your arrival outside of the family vacation center recommended times. Once I figured that I could get a babysitter to help me with my toddlers at mealtimes, I always made sure to have booked a babysitter at the front desk. I even had babysitters come during nap time, so I could go swimming at the pool or exercise at the recreation center (Family Vacationers get access to the recreation center).

Our kids really enjoyed the Small World childcare time and the counselors. The bouncy house, rock climbing wall and animal show were also a big hit with them. We brought their bikes and sand tools, which we used everyday. My boys loved to bike to the cafeteria and ride around the area between the towers and cluster rooms. The sand toys were used at beach day and beach night, and also daily at the volleyball court.

The accommodations are either the San Rafael towers or clusters. The towers has an elevator, and the room we stayed in was a suite with two bedrooms and a sitting area with a sofa a chairs. We had requested a small fridge for our room, and brought our own coffee maker since our little ones are early risers. Both buildings don't have air conditioning, which was a concern for us, but in all honesty we shouldn't have worried about it because we requested a room on a lower floor and weren't in our room much except for in the early mornings or evenings after the activities finished.

My kids kept asking to go back, and because the Family Vacation Center is so popular and has repeat families coming back each year, we weren't able to stay longer or come back another week much to all of our disappointment. If you really want to enjoy your vacation and have some quality adult, kid and family time (yes, all separate!), then you should book your next vacation at the Family Vacation Center.

Date of Stay: 07/04/2015
Children in Party: 2


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Kids (3-6)
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UCSB Family Vacation Center
by Sandieweinzimmer
My kids and I have been attending the Family Vacation Center since 2009.

We absolutely love this place! There is something for everyone----the sports person, the pool lounger, and the happy camper who makes friends wherever ... more she goes! My son is almost 13 and that is a difficult age to be creative with vacationing. He simply can't wait to go back. There is a mix of alone time and kid time. It's the perfect combination of summer bliss. I highly recommend this to anyone! The staff is truly fantastic and they engage the kids so much. We can't wait to go back for year number 6!!

Date of Stay: 07/06/2015
Children in Party: 1


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Family reunion mecca!
by catsaway9
If you're looking for a place to gather the family across generations, look no further. The Family Vacation Center has organized activities for children (infant through high school) where counselors are in charge of the kids, while adults have time off to do ... more their own thing. Families can enjoy activities together, or they can split up to pursue different interests and then come together at meals to share the highlights of their day. Everyone has the option of being as busy or as lazy as they like - there truly is something for everyone, from lounging on the beach, to hiking, to tennis, to crafts.

The location is lovely, right on the ocean on the UCSB campus.

The price includes meals, accommodations, and most activities. The rooms are basic (college dorms, suite-style) but comfortable and the food is surprisingly good for a college dining hall. They have plenty of high chairs and booster seats. It's served buffet-style which can be challenging when you have infants/toddlers, which is why we appreciated having extended family there to help.

Kids always love the staff. They are mostly college-age, full of energy and enthusiasm and available for babysitting and special requests such as guitar lessons or laundry. Each year the week has a theme, and the staff put on shows throughout the week to further the plot. The little kids really get into it.

We have been meeting here every summer for 10 years, and as the kids have grown, they have found new things to do. The youngest of the group is now in 6th grade, but we started coming here when she was 9 months old, and the program has grown with her. If I had to pick, I would say it's best for families with young to elementary-age children, just because those are the ones who need the most entertaining, but older kids love being at the beach and having the freedom to ride their bikes around campus. They get to do things like surfing and the ropes course.

We are a group of 16 (8 adults including 2 grandparents, and 8 children, some of whom are now young adults but are still coming back). We first came here for the grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary and liked it so much we've been coming ever since.

Date of Stay: 06/28/2015
Children in Party: 6


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A way to make memories over and over again
by blonde00
When people ask what we are doing for the summer and I respond with family vacation camp, they give me a negative look of "Are you serious?". I then respond with "the kids get to go off and have fun while we adults get to go wine tasting, ... more bike riding, golfing, hiking or sleep." After further conversations, they have turned that negative look into a positive one and are intrigued in going. We have three generations that travel each year and other vacationers tend to return the same time each year so we all have become extended family. Definitely a place where lifetime memories are made!!

Date of Stay: 07/27/2013
Children in Party: 2


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Kids (7-9)
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Busy or lazy, it's all perfect!
by Shel
The FVC is hands down the best-kept secret of the University of California family camps. No waiting list (yet), gorgeous beach location, fabulous food, and endless activities, all served up by an amazing, energetic staff of college students.

more /> The vacation is booked by the week, from Saturday afternoon to the following Saturday morning. The kids will spend big chunks of time with their age-group counselors for 5 of the 6 days in between. Great parent activities, from bike rides to art classes, yoga, wine tour and golf are available while the kids are busy. There are even more "after the kids are in bed" events, with plentiful babysitting available.

The dorm suites are probably better than the college life you remember. Each family has their own suite, with living room, bedrooms and bath room. Housekeeping comes by regularly to restock towels and vacuum up the sand.

There is a generously sized swimming pool for the exclusive use of the FVC families, and the beach is a quick walk away. Bicycles and foam surfboards are available. Tennis courts are reserved, and the campus Recreation Center (with a pool and gym) is available for use. There is a well-stocked crafts studio with projects for all ages. Or... you can nap. No-one will rat you out to your kids!

Most meals are included, primarily at the Carrillo Dining Commons. Set meal times are a challenge for some families, but the selection and quality is great.

Date of Stay: 07/19/2014
Children in Party: 1


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Family of 21 Spending 7 days together and still loving one another
by rj5557@sbcglobal.net
Can anyone reading this possibly name One Vacation Location that 21 family members would beg to return - ages 3@9, 1@10, 1@16, 2@19, 1@20, 2@22, 1@24, 1@26, 1@28 AND 4 sets of parents ranging in age from 40 to 55 and grandparents 73 and 75! There is not one place on ... more this entire planet that I could even begin to compare with everything that UCSB Vacation Center has to offer for every age group. We had no idea the wonderful memories this vacation would afford us - we will never ever forget that June week in the summer of 2013.

Bob and I, the Grandparents, wanted a vacation that would include all our immediate family. I "surfed the internet" and checked every possible option - each possibility had at least one major concern with the age differences in our family.
I asked other family members, friends and friends of friends. It usually came down to "You Can't Beat Disney" OR "TAKE A Cruise". Well LET ME TELL YOU - YES YOU CAN BEAT EACH OF THOSE OPTIONS- AND UCSB beats them both ! ! !

I have about 900 photos that I would be more than willing to share just to show anyone all the possibilities that await you. If I can figure out how to repost a video from one particular day, and share that with you, I will try - no promises. I'm not great with the computer.

We personally did not have babies or preschoolers, but there were many that week, and they were as well cared for just as a Mommy or Daddy would. Daily Camps for Our 9 and 10 year olds when for example, we took an adult wine trip - Fun Teen activities and Adult entertainment for our 20somethings on most evenings. For All of us - Making New Friends, GREAT food, A Personal Retreat for Each Family, Wonderful Santa Barbara Weather and Moonlit Marshmellows roasting at night. I could go on and on but please go to the UCSB Vacation Center Website and Read All That is Offered.

When you are finished reading -I CAN ASSURE YOU - YOU WILL NEVER REGRET THE DECISION - GO FOR IT - GO FOR THE MEMORIES - AND GO FOR YOURSELF.






Date of Stay: 06/22/2013


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A Family Tradition that Continues
by blonde00
We've attended as a family for five years and have it in our vacation schedule each year. I've always described our trip to Family Vacation Center as a cruise on land but even better. There is high energy from the staff and entertainment almost ... more every day (yes, the staff puts on a production - land and water). It is a safe environment where you know that you and your kids (when you aren't with them) are being taken care of extremely well. There is fun for the whole family. The kids love being in their groups with other kids their age. They do arts and crafts, games, field trips and sing camp songs that you will take home with you and hear for months on end. While the kids have their fun, so do the adults. There is wine tasting trips, hiking, bike riding, golf, surf and paddleboard lessons or do nothing.

The room is a dorm room that had 2-4 bedrooms with their own bathroom and living room. It's like a condo without a kitchen. There is a kitchenette on each floor that has a microwave. The food onsite is really good. There is a a large variety to pick from and they have different selections every day. There is even a wood fire oven that they make pizzas every day and they are kid and adult friendly combinations.

Overall, a great place by the beach with plenty of things to do.

Date of Stay: 07/27/2013
Children in Party: 2


Kids (3-6)
Kids (7-9)
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Get a break from your kids!!!
by stalkerj
We all love our kids - no doubt.

But vacation with these kids sometimes, though no fault of their own, become even more taxing than working and staying at home. A vacation is supposed to rejuvenate not exhaust the parents.

What ... more makes FVC so special is the fact that every day THE KIDS ARE TAKEN CARE OF. That's right, FREEDOM EVERY DAY.

And guess what? Because the kids are with kids their own ages - they actually look forward to leaving their parents for the day!

So you can walk to Starbucks, read the paper, or go to the gym with the peace of mind your kids are having a blast. If cracking open a book isn't your think there are a bunch of adult activities every day to do where you'll meet other parents who too are in on this great secret of a vacation spot.

Want to go out for the evening with your spouse? NO PROBLEM!!! Tons of babysitters eager to help out.

Did I say this was on the UCSB water front campus?

I can't oversell this if you have kids and need a break. You'll be like us on our 7th year!

Date of Stay: 01/01/1900
Children in Party: 1


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Kids (7-9)
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Great Family Vacation for all ages!!
by blonde00
We have returned to Family Vacation for four years and plan for many more. It is a great location where family members of all ages can come together and have a great time. The adults can have their own fun by wine tasting, hiking, biking, tennis, ... more golfing and remembering and trying to be college students while the kids are off with their own activities which including crafts, learning fun songs, playing fun games, beach and pool time and crafts. You might be staying in a dorm room, but it is a 2 to 4 bedroom dorm room with a living room for your family. This is much bigger than a hotel room or a cruise ship room. It isn't the typical college campus food that you are served - many varieties to choose from wood fire pizza, stir fry, grill, salad bar, desserts, frozen yogurt - and it is good food!!

Our kids always fall "in love" with their counselors and make new friends. They tend to eat with their counselors and their friends instead of us (they are near by so they are still in viewing). The staff is great and always full of energy.

The beach is close by and there is plenty of open area to ride (or learn how to) bikes, skateboard or scooter around. The kids have their own activity schedule and so do the adults. There is also time for family time. You can decide if you want a family day, adult time or me time.

Great location for families. You normally vacation with the same families every year and reconnect where you left off last year.

Date of Stay: 08/04/2012
Children in Party: 2


Kids (3-6)
Kids (7-9)
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My kids cried when we left...so did I!
by amzfitz
With young kids, it is truly a vacation to get a break from cooking, cleaning, planning activities and driving everyone around. We woke up each morning, slapped on some sunscreen and rolled out for a fresh-cooked breakfast and all kinds of fun! Each day is ... more different, but your kids are engaged at least six hours per day. They enjoyed trips to the zoo, bowling, the beach and a scavenger hunt. Our relaxed family time included visits to the craft shack, bike rides around campus and carnival games.

One of my favorite parts of the camp is that it feels like a good, old fashioned time - the kids are learning camp songs and we all bonded together (with tears in our eyes) for the farewell show featuring the amazing staff. Kids got awards for the pinewood derby race, various tournaments, and all kinds of achievements during the week.

I mentioned that my kids cried when we left. I have to admit that I was a little choked up at the thought of going back to reality!

We were reluctant travelers who could not leave a deposit for next year fast enough. Now we are counting the days until the FVC 2013!

The staff who supervise and entertain the kids have so much energy and do such a great time with them. Kids are grouped by age/grade (mine were in the Kindergarten and Second grade groups this year.) They bonded with new friends and now have pen pals that they are looking forward to seeing again next year.

The adult staff is top-notch as well. We were never bored...stand up paddle board, wine tasting, karaoke night, and many new friends made it a trip to remember.



Date of Stay: 08/04/2012
Children in Party: 2


Kids (3-6)
Kids (7-9)
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Best vacation ever!
by jbarth
The UCSB Family Vacation Center is the best experience for every member of our family! From the moment you enter the parking lot and you are greeted by energetic counselors, your days and nights are filled with fun! The kids go off in ... more one direction with their age appropriate groups and the parents go in their direction for everything from wine tasting, golf tournaments, the best tennis (daily) instruction...and much, much more. This vacation lets a family be a family with every member having a great time!

Date of Stay: 08/04/2012
Children in Party: 2


Kids (7-9)
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Enjoy all the amenities of a cruise at the beach in beautiful Santa Barbara
by sccheno
The Family Vacation Center is more than a hotel, although it is priced like one (albeit, an expensive hotel). We have gone to Family Vacation Center for the last 2 years and are going again this coming summer because this was the first ... more vacation I took since having kids that I felt like I had a vacation too. The cost of a week at the Family Vacation Center include accommodations in an on-campus apartment at University of California Santa Barbara, meals, some adult beverages, activities and child care for children as young as a month or two. The kids have a blast at camp where they have all sorts of activities. The camp schedule accommodates the activities scheduled for adults, which you can participate in or not. This year the adults have dinner on a boat cruising the Channel, while the kids enjoy a pyjama party. We kayaked, took guided tours around Santa Barbara and the wine country, we took art classes, swam in the pool and at the beach, and relaxed. We are going again the week of 4th of July and I can't wait!!!!

Date of Stay: 08/15/2011
Children in Party: 1


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Great Family Vacation destination!!
by blonde00
FVC is great!! For the price of a Cruise without leaving port and having the ability to leave the kids with trained counselors while the adults get to have fun themselves (wine tasting tours, time to relax without the kids) is a great vacation week!

more /> We've been there for 3 years now and without hesitation, will go back again. Most families return the same week year after year and you spend time with old and new friends. The counselors are even multi-year staff members and they have a blast with all of us that return year after year.

The kids have a blast, the adults get time to themselves and then you have family time. We have 3 generations travel with us each year and everyone has fun.

Our favorite activies are:
1. Time at the craft hut making creative derby cars
2. Spending time at the beach/pool
3. Seeing our kids enjoying themselves and creating new friends

I think our older daughter is going to learn how to skateboard this year. Last year, she got her confidence up to upgrade her bike to the next size. Our youngest son had a blast riding his tricycle to his group and back and forth to the cafeteria. We adults had a blast going into Santa Barbara for the Art Walk (local vendors selling art) and having an adult night out in Santa Barbara for dinner without the kids. The adult activities at night were great too (Margarita making contests).



Date of Stay: 07/30/2011
Children in Party: 2


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UC Santa Barbara Family Vacation Center
by Susan C
Our family has been attending UCSB Family Vacation Center for 7-years now & we plan to continue until the kids go off to college! This is the most relaxing all-inclusive vacation our family has ever experienced. We can always depend on the ... more beautiful dorm facilities overlooking the ocean, recreation center & gym, fantastic dining commons, daily activities for all & a cheerful and entertaining staff made up of college students! We have spread the news to everyone in San Diego and have made lifelong family friendships at the FVC. The kids look forward to this family vacation each year and continue to count down the days until our annual week's summer attendance! Susan C.




Date of Stay: 07/17/2010
Children in Party: 2


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