Six things to do while social distancing on the Central Coast


Hiking in the Los Padres National Forest is one way to get out of the house while staying a safe distance from others. Photo by Kathryn Barnes

The preventative measures taken by Ventura and Santa Barbara counties against COVID-19 have warped daily routines as schools close, businesses shut, and homes become a forced refuge.

But here are some ways to hopefully ease these uneasy times.

1. Go outside

It’s been advised by the California Department of Public Health to keep social distance and stay at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t step outside and social distance in nature.

Just make sure to stay six feet from others and be mindful of objects people may frequently touch. Bring some hand sanitizer on your adventure!

2. Get a digital library card

Though the Santa Barbara and Ventura County public libraries have closed their branches and cancelled events, members can digitally access thousands of books, films, and newspapers with their library card.

If you don’t have a library card, you can still apply for a digital one and access the same materials temporarily here. For the Ventura Public library, you can register and access materials temporarily here and click “Log In,” and select “Register” in the pop-up box.

Book drops have been locked at all Santa Barbara and Ventura branches, and renewal fee deadlines extended. 

In Santa Barbara, you can call librarians with questions at (805) 962-7653 or text them at (805) 764-4542. 

3. Homeschool your kids

The Smithsonian Institute has also released links to their Digital Education Resources. You can access digitized photos of collections, and webcast videos taught by scientists.

For a list of free databases that range from science to art history, check out this page.

4. Order delivery

A few restaurants have taken it upon themselves to deliver your food for free to maintain public health.

For example, Prospect Coffee Roasters in Ventura is offering free shipping to customers ordering from home, and Captain Fatty’s Brewery can drop off a six-pack at your door.

Companies that deliver food, like Doordash, Grubhub, and UberEats, each display the cost of deliveries so you can find which restaurants will get your food to you free. Doordash even has an option to “Leave it at my Door” so there is no human contact.

5. Pick up free food for your family

Along the Central Coast, local governments and nonprofits are stepping up to provide free lunches to kids, many of whom rely on free or reduced school meals. You can find the times and locations in Ventura here, and in south Santa Barbara County here

Ventura County’s Food Share program has a list of pantries for free food for those struggling that you can see here. Santa Barbara has a list of locations at this web address.

6. Volunteer safely

Signing up for Nextdoor has been a handy tool to communicate with neighbor’s needs, especially the elderly. People have been shopping for their neighbors and sharing supplies. Log in if you want to help or need help.

The Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade created a free webinar on neighborhood cooperation during a pandemic.

If you just want to roll up your sleeves, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is
looking for people to deliver and hand out groceries (at a safe distance). The Bucket Brigade is also supporting local organizations by delivering food to at-risk folks. If you’re interested in deliveries, send an email to

For those in Ventura, you can volunteer with the county's Food Share program here, as well as the Senior Concerns Meals on Wheels program designed for senior home-delivery.



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