South on 101 Playhouses, free outdoor movies, and 'Kardboard' kayak races

Outdoor entertainments are plenty this weekend in Santa Barbara.

July 3, 2019

Julia McHugh

Films from the Fifties

Classic films from a golden era are featured in this summer’s free outdoor cinema series “Those Fabulous Fifties!!,” at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse’s Sunken Garden. Bring a blanket and low-backed chair and enjoy screenings under the stars.

“Roman Holiday” kicks off the cinematic splendor on Friday night, July 5, at 8:30 p.m. Set in Rome, it stars Audrey Hepburn in an Oscar-winning American debut and Gregory Peck. She’s a sheltered princess who has ditched her guardians; he’s an American newsman who thinks he’s getting a scandalous story, but gets much more.

Next Friday, July 12, is Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic “North by Northwest” in which Eva Marie Saint (now a Montecito resident) and Cary Grant are pursued by foreign spies all the way to the granite face of Abraham Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore.

Future Friday screenings feature a brooding James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” (July 19), a sizzling Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot (July 26), and Brando and Saint (in her film debut) with Brando in “On the Waterfront” (August 9). Gary Cooper is a retired marshal and his new bride is Grace Kelly in “High Noon” (August 16). Finally, glorious Gloria Swanson burns up the screen in “Sunset Boulevard” (August 23).

Presented by UCSB Arts and Lectures and the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture. (805-893-3535,

'Garden Casitas'

Eight playhouses inspired by nature are now open for play at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

They are part of a juried exhibit, “Garden Casitas: Playhouses Designed with Nature in Mind,” which includes an above-ground “hobbit hole,” a California poppy-inspired redwood structure, and one made with shingles from a tree burned in the Thomas Fire. The “casitas” are open through the end of the year, and included in Garden admission. (805-682-4726,


Kardboard kayak race

Warning: you may get wet at the Kardboard Kayak Race Team Challenge held Saturday, July 6, at West Beach. Join the family challenge or put together a team to design a kayak out of just cardboard, duct tape, utility knife, yardstick, and permanent marker – in just an hour. Then a paddler must navigate to a buoy and back without sinking. Many don’t succeed… to the delight of observers.

It is $40 to enter, either in the Family Fun heat (paddler must be 14 years old or younger) or Paddling Pros. It’s wet and wild! (805-456-8747,

Rum Runners at Maritime Museum

Maritime buffs and rum lovers should enjoy the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s “Rum Runners, Sailors, and Prohibition,” on view through October. The exhibit originated at San Diego’s Maritime Museum but now has additions about Santa Barbara, apparently a smuggling hotspot during Prohibition. See a replica of an old still and watch a video on how rum is made, and learn about real rumrunner Ira Eaton who ran distilleries on the Channel Islands. (805 962-8404,


Teams build kayaks out of cardboard in just one hour, then paddle them around a buoy to win the Kardboard Kayak Race Team Challenge at Santa Barbara’s West Beach. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Contributed