This park is Grand Central for large picnics in Santa Barbara. Officially named San Antonio Canyon Park, it is known locally as Tucker's Grove (which is actually the lower section near the entrance) and is much more open, sunny, and spacious than some of the other parks in the area. Many companies and large organizations choose this park for outings because of its ability to handle up to 400 people in a single picnic area. Tucker's Grove has 8 reservable picnic areas with capacities of 400, 310, 120, 80, 40, 25, 25, and 25. The lower park is great for families because of its wide-open spaces and relatively flat grounds that are right next to a large playground.
- Features: Alcohol Allowed, Biking, Dog Wash, Hiking Trail, Horseback Riding, Horseshoe Pits, Parking On Site, Picnic Site, Playground, Popular Event Venue, Reservable Areas, Restrooms, Sports Fields
- Dog Policy: Dogs Allowed On Leash throughout the park. Dogs Allowed Off Leash in a special enclosed area at the upper most part of the park.
Little kids love the playground at Tucker's Grove because there's a geometric dome climber (very rare in Santa Barbara), two Landscape Structures playgrounds with slides, a huge sand pit (bring sand toys), and swings. There is also a very unusual cement racing station. Kids used to bring matchbox cars or marbles and watch them roll down the track but unfortunately the wear and tear of weather and youthful exuberance has degraded the race track to unusable status.
You will notice a hill on the mountain side of the lower section of Tucker's Grove. Most people think of it as simply a park boundary and don't realize that there is a trail to the top of the hill where you will find terrific views of the ocean. The trailhead is next to the playground. Take a right at the top of the trail, onto the fire road, to reach the best view point where you can see the Channel Islands, More Mesa, Campus Point at UCSB, and other beach areas. If you want to see something humorous, take a left at the top the trail and check out the two cell towers disguised as huge trees. They look surprisingly real.
The upper section of Tucker's Grove is known as Kiwanis Meadows which has the look and feel of a completely different park. From the Kiwanis Meadows part of the park you can access hiking and riding trails that take you all the way to San Marcos Road and beyond. The San Antonio Creek Trail starts at the parking area for Kiwanis Meadows. To get to Kiwanis Meadows you drive past all the lower picnic areas, and through a white gate. The white gate to the Kiwanis Meadows parking area is closed around sunset or if San Antonio Creek is raging. You can always park before the gate and walk the rest of the way. There is a second white gate at the top of the Kiwanis Meadows parking area that is always closed (except if the area is rented) so you will need to walk the last 500 feet. Once at Kiwanis Meadows you will find a large lawn, a fenced off-leash doggie area, a volleyball court, the Area 5 picnic tables and barbecue, a small playground, horseshoes pits, real restrooms, and a dog wash station.
Dog Off Leash Area
An off leash dog area is located in the Kiwanis Meadows section of Tucker's Grove. It is a large fenced-in area designated for dogs to run off leash and there are trees along the border that provides shade. Inside the off leash area there are picnic tables and some benches, one of which is shaped like a doggy bone. The park provides drinking water for the dogs inside the fenced area. It is a large, community water bowl built into the ground where multiple dogs can drink at once. After you enter the enclosed area, immediately turn right to get to the water bowl which is hidden in the bushes near the fence. Kiwanis Meadows is one of the few parks that have a self-serve dog wash station. Dogs need to have a license and vaccinations tag on their collar when using the off leash area. You must clean up after your dog and there are several poop bag dispensers in the area.
Tucker's Grove is named after Reason Penelope Tucker, the man who owned the property in the late 1800s. After relocating throughout the country, Tucker arrived in the Goleta Valley in 1872. Here he bought two parcels of land, one of which included Tucker's Grove. After Tucker died in 1888, his son Charles inherited Tucker's Grove. Even though he never developed the property it became a popular spot for community picnics and other gatherings. When Charles died in 1911 an auction was held for the land and George Edwards, president of the local Commercial Bank, purchased the 18 acres for $3,000, considered a great bargain at the time. After Edwards offered, and failed, to sell it to the county for the price he paid, he deeded the property over to the county for use as a park. In 1912, a huge barbecue was staged to celebrate Santa Barbara County's newest park.