This week, I set out to the city for which our humble university takes its name. It’s worth the time to get to know Santa Barbara itself and not just State Street. One of the easiest — although not cheapest — ways to do this is to take one of the several tours that run through the city.

On this particular jaunt I headed toward Stearns Wharf, where I met up with the crew of the Land Shark, an amphibious tour vehicle not unlike the duck boats in San Diego and San Francisco. The Shark runs a two-hour loop around SB and Montecito, including the home of Beanie Baby mogul Ty Warner. After making the loop on land, the bus drives straight down the launch ramp in the harbor and into the water.

If you ever wanted to drive your car into a lake just to see what it felt like, this is probably as close as you can get and still survive. The tour itself is fun and informative and will certainly teach you about the area and introduce you to different parts of the town. The only bummer is that even after shelling out a large chunk of change to hear about the city, you are still harassed by shameless plugs for a variety of businesses around town.

After disembarking from the Shark, we walked down the beach to the harbor where we once again set off into the water, this time in a kayak. While the tour was interesting, the experience of kayaking around the harbor was by far the better half of the day. There’s something slightly thrilling about tipping side to side as a novice kayaker, watching water come sloshing into the kayak and wondering how long it’s going to take to flip over. If you ever want to figure out how much you trust somebody, go kayaking with them; it’s only a matter of time before you want to kill them for getting you drenched.

Because I’m too much of a wuss, there’s not too much I can tell you about heading out into the open ocean. As soon as we turned around the breakwater, we started getting splashed by the swell and opted to turn around and explore the harbor. No matter, though; within the harbor you can find artificial caves underneath the catamarans and gawk at absolutely massive yachts.

Whether you go by land or by sea, or in a vessel that does both, turn off “Gossip Girl” or whatever other crap you are watching and take the opportunity to go exploring before school really gets going.