Often referred to as the ‘American Riviera,’ Santa Barbara is known for its stunning coastline, which offers a variety of water-based experiences for visitors including kayaking, surfing, boating and more.
East Beach is a true gem that embodies Santa Barbara's coastal charm with an expansive, sandy beachfront bordered by a grassy park with large palm trees. Offering numerous amenities including restaurants, volleyball courts, playground spaces, lifeguard stations and a spiraling bike path, East Beach is the perfect spot to spend the entire day beachside. The beach is also close to Santa Barbara's lively downtown area, providing a seamless blend of natural beauty with urban elegance.
Situated along Shoreline Drive, one of the most beautiful beaches near downtown Santa Barbara, Leadbetter Beach is popular with windsurfers, joggers and sunbathers. Its moderate waves make it ideal for beginners and casual surfers. It's one of the more picturesque sites near the city, with a large golden sand beach and grass lawn, making it one of the most popular public beaches in the area.
Known for its long fishing pier and sunbathing beaches, Goleta Beach Park provides 29 acres of recreation just outside of Santa Barbara. From May to October, the Paddle Sports Center on the beach provides kayak and paddleboard rentals as well as guided trips, where visitors can launch from either the beach or Goleta Pier. The park also features volleyball courts, children's play areas and horseshoe pits for additional family fun activities. The grounds surrounding the beach are covered with paved bicycle paths that connect beachgoers to downtown Santa Barbara. A highly anticipated new restaurant on the beach featuring coastal California cuisine, The Ellwood at Goleta Beach, is set to debut in late summer 2023.
Just south of Santa Barbara lies the quaint coastal town of Summerland. Known for its serene atmosphere, Summerland Beach offers the ultimate oceanfront backdrop for unwinding. Lookout Park, set on a cliff above the beach, is the first thing visitors see when they arrive. The beach has a calm surf, making it a favorite spot for stand-up paddling, kayaking and mild swimming. Summerland Beach is Santa Barbara's only horseback riding beach on the South Coast. Los Padres Outfitters, a local tour company, offers two-hour guided horseback trips on the dunes and across Summerland's backcountry. As a pet-friendly destination, Summerland Beach welcomes four-legged companions, making it a favorite among dog owners.