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Seven Not-to-be-Missed Beaches

One of the simple pleasures of Santa Barbara is its proximity to the ocean. With miles of sun-drenched and sandy coastline, you’ll have trouble picking which of its pristine beaches to visit first. From surf-friendly waves to a gentle ocean, a visit to Santa Barbara beaches makes even a perfect day that much better.

When you’re ready to hit the beach, here are 7 not-to-be-missed Santa Barbara beaches and a few insider tips:

Arroyo Burro Beach

Visitors and dog lovers jump for joy over Arroyo Burro Beach, better known to locals as Hendry’s Beach. Load up your pooch and head to this flat, dog-friendly spot for a game of fetch along the coastline.  Hungry after a day of beach play? Make time to grab a seaside meal at Boathouse, a local and visitor favorite.

Insider Tip: Afterwards, give Fido a bubble bath at the self-serve dog-washing station in the parking lot!

Bring the dogs for off-leash fun at Arroyo Burro Beach.

Butterfly Beach

For the sophisticated traveler­­­, before hitting the beach, grab a craft cocktail across the road at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. If you’re lucky, you might spot a famous celeb. Once your thirst has been quenched, sunbathe at Butterfly Beach while you catch up on your favorite novel.

Insider Tip: Make sure to stay late. Located in Montecito, Butterfly Beach faces west, making it a great place to watch the sunset.

East Beach

Adventure-seeking visitors can enjoy a competitive game of volleyball at the numerous courts available along East Beach. If two wheels is more your style, rent a bike at Wheel Fun Rentals and cruise along Cabrillo Blvd., complete with cool coastal breezes.

Insider Tip: Family-friendly East Beach is located next to Stearns Wharf and makes your stay a breeze with lifeguard stations, a playground and cafés.

Dusk at East Beach.

 Goleta Beach Park

Make the most of your beach time with a visit to this “Good Land” beach. Cast a line off the Goleta Pier, or kick start your weekend with a good ol’ barbecue.

Insider Tip: Plan to stay the entire day! This playful beachfront location has both picnic and grill areas, volleyball courts and horseshoe pits.

Leadbetter Beach

Near the Santa Barbara Harbor and the breakwater, Leadbetter Beach is a popular location for surfing, boogie boarding and stand-up paddle boarding.

Insider Tip: Before leaving, take an extra few minutes to walk up to Shoreline Park, where you’ll be treated to a bird’s-eye view of the surfers below and get the best views of The Channel Islands.

Morning run along the shore at Leadbetter Beach.

Summerland Beach

For those wanting a relaxing, laid-back beach day, escape to Summerland Beach. Sit back and simply enjoy the surrounding beauty at this low-key location.

Insider Tip: Not only is Summerland Beach dog-friendly, but horse-friendly too. Book a sunset horseback riding tour with Los Padres Outfitters for an unbeatable experience touring the beaches and backgrounds of Summerland.

Summerland Beach at sunrise with Los Padres Outfitters.

Refugio State Beach

When visiting Refugio State Beach, be prepared for breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. This palm-tree lined paradise is just a quick 20 miles west of Santa Barbara, and worth every mile.

Insider Tip: Spend the night. At Refugio State Beach, set up camp right along the coast, waking up to beach-front bliss every single morning.

Plan This Itinerary


Boathouse Hendry’s Beach

Arguably the most beautiful restaurant setting in Santa Barbara, the Boathouse sits on the sand at Hendry’s Beach, amidst the bluffs.  Large beachside patio with giant fire pit, inside/outside bar with fabulous cocktails (try the…




Stearns Wharf

Enjoy the seaside sights and sounds of Stearns Wharf, one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landmarks. Named for builder John P. Stearns and located at the end of State Street, it is California’s oldest working wharf and the perfect spot…


Wheel Fun Rentals

Best way to see Santa Barbara like a true native! Explore along our beautiful coast or head downtown for some shopping and dining without the worry of parking! Get the family together for a group Surrey ride (which is able to accommodate up…


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