Photo Courtesy of Go Goleta at Glen Annie Golf Club
Goleta is called “The Good Land” for good reason (aside from the fact that’s what the name literally means). Santa Barbara’s immediate neighbor to the northwest, Goleta has its own community identity dominated by an ultra laid-back, no-fuss vibe. Goleta has long been synonymous with the University of California Santa Barbara, where serious academia is matched by serious fun on one of the world’s most beautiful college campuses. Goleta is also home to inviting wide-open spaces including untouched coastline, bucolic farms and orchards and a pair of highly rated golf courses. These days, Goleta’s star is also rising when it comes to the growing concentration of cool hotels, craft beer producers and killer cuisine. It’s particularly well suited to an action-packed guys’ getaway when the line-up calls for equal parts adventure, entertainment and refreshment.
Once the group has agreed upon your “mancation” dates, the first order of business is deciding where you’ll call home for your two or three night stay. If it’s luxury you seek and you’re serious golfers, look no further than the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara which is adjacent to the sought after Sandpiper Golf Club. If you want something that’s a bit hip and rock-and-roll, The Leta Hotel is a go-to hot spot. And if you’re more of a brand loyalist looking to earn points, Hilton Garden Inn and Residence Inn by Marriott Santa Barbara Goleta are both immaculate, shiny and new.
Start your adventure on the green at Glen Annie Golf Club or Sandpiper Golf Club. If the group is really into golf, you’ll definitely want to play each course once. Otherwise, you simply need to choose between coastal (Sandpiper) or mountain views (Glen Annie). Each has a café onsite that can take care of your lunch needs, too. And if traditional golf isn’t your game, instead you can opt to take advantage of Goleta’s top-notch disc golf course, Evergreen Disc Golf.
Dedicate your first full afternoon to exploring Goleta’s buzzing beer scene. Start at M. Special Brew Company, where you can enjoy games and live entertainment depending on the day and time. Then move over to Draughtsman Ale Works for another tasting sampler. At this point, you’re probably ready to get some food in your bellies, so head to Hollister Brewing Company where you can continue your craft beer education while enjoying gourmet quality brewpub fare. And if you want to squeeze one more brewery in before dinner (because, why not?!) Captain Fatty’s is another solid choice.
If the gang’s not ready to call it a night after your personal brewfest, get the competitive trash talk flowing over a few rounds of bowling or billiards at Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond.
Fuel up for another action-packed day with a hearty brunch at The Leta Restaurant, where indulging in a breakfast cocktail certainly won’t be frowned upon.
If you’re not golfing again, this morning calls for something active and outdoorsy. Consider a hike to the Gaviota Hot Springs, or rent premium bikes from Bicycle Bob’s and plot your own Tour de Goleta. (The shop also offers casual and advanced guided group rides on Sunday mornings.) Another idea: Santa Barbara Adventure Company can help you get out to sea on their Gaviota Coast guided coastal kayaking excursion that starts at Refugio State Beach.
After taking to the mountains or the sea, beeline to the Beachside Bar Café for a seafood-centric dinner with a stellar view. The restaurant sits right at the base of the Goleta Pier and overlooks Goleta Beach so you can take a stroll along the pier and see what the fishermen are hauling in if you need to wait for a prime table outside—otherwise belly up to the bar and order some oysters on the half shell or steamers while you wait.
The post-dinner plan should entail a nightcap at the Mercury Lounge or The Imperial—or both! The Mercury occasionally hosts bands so you could luck out with a front row seat to a cool indie act. And the Imperial is known for its perfectly executed craft cocktails with an emphasis on vintage classics.
Start your last day with a surf session led by Goleta’s leading surf and skate shop, Surf Country. First, you’ll want to get caffeinated so stop at Dune Coffee Roasters for a takeaway coffee and snack. Then, meet your instructor at Campus Point, a popular break at UCSB. They’ll have boards and wetsuits at the ready—along with lots of patience and encouragement to get you stoked on riding some waves.
After you’ve conquered surfing, continue the educational theme at Good Land Organics. With some advanced planning, you can book a tour of the innovative farm that’s pioneering coffee growing in North America—in fact, it’s the very first farm to grow coffee in the continental U.S. The family-run farm is located in a microclimate equally well suited to growing exotic fruits like caviar limes, cherimoya and passion fruit so there’s a whole lot to geek out on here whether or not you consider yourselves foodies. Next, you can discover how fruit is transformed into hard cider at Santa Barbara Cider Co. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday and they pour more than a dozen different ciders.
Before you part ways and say your goodbyes, make sure you squeeze in a supremely satisfying Mexican meal at Pepe’s Café. The family-run restaurant has been a part of the Goleta community since 1958 and after immersing yourself in The Good Land lifestyle, you’ll feel right at home—and might even see some folks you know.