8 Best Beaches In Santa Barbara, California (2024)

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Want to know where the best seaside spots are in “The American Riviera”? We’ve got you covered with the best beaches in Santa Barbara!

Santa Barbara is one of California’s most beloved and outdoor adventure-friendly cities.

Located in the central coastal region of the Golden State, this sunny part of the world is a dream come true for anyone who appreciates sandy shores and expansive horizons. 

But when it comes to the wide array of picturesque beaches that Santa Barbara has to offer, which are the standout locations? 

Whether you’re a local looking to highlight some hidden gems or a tourist seeking good spots to traverse, knowing where to go for the perfect beach day is something everyone can benefit from. 

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Santa Barbara’s Top 8 Beaches

We’ve compiled this list of Santa Barbara’s top beaches so that you know exactly where to head next time the coastline calls your name. 

1. Butterfly Beach

Location: Montecito, California

One of the first places any Santa Barbara native will tell you to visit when arriving in this coastal zone is Butterfly Beach.

With its consistently fair weather, serene landscape, and mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets, it’s well known for being a favorite location of celebs. 

Located close to Montecito’s Coast Village Road, which features an assortment of cute shops and the Honor Bar, a delightful craft cocktail bar, you can spend entire days at this pretty beach without wanting for a single thing. 

If you want to make the most out of Butterfly Beach, make sure to arrive in time to catch either sunrise or sunset (or both) – the views are absolutely unmatched. 

2. Goleta Beach Park 

Location: 5986 Sandspit Road, Goleta, CA 93117

Also known as “Good Land” beach, the Goleta Beach Park is a sandy wonderland of paved trails for cycling, running, and skateboarding on land, while the gleaming waters offer both kayaking and paddleboarding opportunities.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone here! 

There are also grill and chill areas dotted all along the Goleta Beach strip, making it an ideal location for bigger groups or people wanting to stay for longer than just a few hours. 

Goleta Beach Park is a great place to plan a full-day visit around, especially if you’re on a road trip and need a break in the sun.

Pack your kids, your lunch, and a whole lot of energy because this park offers endless outdoor entertainment. 

3. Haskell’s Beach 

Location: Goleta, California

Tucked beneath the Ritz-Carlton Bacara hotel is Haskell’s Beach – a golden nugget of California coastline that’s completely accessible regardless of whether you are a resort guest or not.

Park along Goleta’s coastline and stroll along the golden shores, making sure to keep an eye out for local octopi, starfish, sea anemones, and more. 

If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, you can hire a kayak to go gliding along Haskell’s crystalline waters and get a closer perspective on all that beautiful local marine life. 

4. Summerland Beach 

Location: Summerland, California

Not much sounds better than a land of endless summers.

This south-facing Santa Barbarian beach is aptly named for its glorious stretch of soft sands and clear horizons, making it the perfect location for a sundowner’s session or gentle walk along the coast. 

Two things make Summerland Beach special: first, it’s dog-friendly!

As one of the few dog-friendly beaches in Santa Barbara, this is great news for anyone who has a furry friend to bring along on their beach trips. 

But dogs aren’t the only four-legged friends allowed on Summerland Beach.

It’s horse-friendly terrain, too. Not only that but there are sunset horse riding tours available for booking through Los Padres Outfitters, so you can experience the magic of sunset riding even if you don’t have a horse of your own. 

5. East Beach 

Location: Santa Barbara, California

If you and your crew’s idea of a perfect beach day included plenty of outdoor activities, you’d be well suited to a good session at East Beach.

With volleyball courts, bikes for rent, and a sturdy playground for the young ones, this beach is an endless rotation of fun and games. 

Adding to East Beach’s full-day-trip perfection is the ample presence of restaurants and cafes.

This gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy a variety of great food and drinks while you admire the natural beauty of this popular beach. 

6. Leadbetter Beach 

Location: Santa Barbara, California

Close to the Santa Barbara harbor is Leadbetter Beach, a beach known for its incredible longboarding, surfing, boogie boarding, and stand-up paddleboarding opportunities.

It’s the perfect spot for family beach days or school outings that require a little something for everyone to stay entertained. 

Leadbetter Beach is a true crowd-pleaser with its mild, gentle shore break and perfect swimming conditions.

To make it even better, there’s a local eatery called Shoreline Cafe to keep you nourished while you spend all your energy having fun. 

7. Arroyo Burro Beach 

Location: 2981 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

Dog lovers and beach lovers alike can rejoice at the sight of Arroyo Burro Beach, also known as Hendry’s Beach to some.

With a uniquely flat outstretch of sand, this beach is perfect for runners, joggers, and dog walkers who need ample space to roam when they spend a day out on the coast. 

After all that physical activity, beachgoers can cool down and fuel up at the nearby Boathouse Restaurant – and enjoy the luxury of a self-service dog washing station at the parking lot. Heaven!

8. 1000 Steps Beach 

Location: 1429 Shoreline Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109

1000 Steps Beach is one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic landscapes, bookended by north and south sandstone cliffs that create a cozy, “world’s away” feeling that separates it from other beach experiences. 

With smashing summer waves that crash onto the sandstone rocks and a natural sea cave, this unique beach is unmissable if you’re in the Santa Barbara area.

And don’t worry, it won’t take a thousand literal steps to get there (it’s much closer to 200!). 

So rest assured, you can journey there and back with plenty of energy to enjoy its grand shorelines. 

Where To Stay In Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara has a variety of hotels, resorts, and inns for a variety of budgets.

✅ Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

Back when I worked for Hilton, JP and I stayed here when they underwent their most recent renovation and it was amazing.

It’s right along the beach, has a great restaurant with an outdoor patio and fire pits, and the rooms are nicely spread out.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort Today!

✅ Castillo Inn At The Beach

We visited Santa Barbara one weekend where prices were astronomical at our go to resorts, so we started looking at the inns.

The inns are actually really nice boutique properties.

They are not run down at all.

You can see our complete review of Castillo Inn at the Beach in this blog post.

We loved our room and it was in walking distance of State Street, so I highly recommend it.

You can see a full walk-through of our room in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Castillo Inn At The Beach Today!

Castillo Inn at the Beach in Santa Barbara

✅ Camping at Cachuma Lake

Another option outside of town is the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area.

It’s only about 30 minutes outside of Santa Barbara, near Solvang.

They have spots for tent camping, RVs, and even yurts!

Cachuma Lake Recreation Area - campsite set up with a tent, picnic table, and firepit

More Fun Things To Do In And Around Santa Barbara

Whether you’re looking to stay local or explore some nearby towns, we’ve got you covered!

We’ve visited Santa Barbara a handful of times now and have featured it many times on our blog before.

For some more trip planning ideas, check out these posts.

➡️ Santa Barbara and Solvang Weekend Getaway

Solvang is a little less than an hour away from Santa Barbara, so it’s the perfect addition to a Santa Barbara weekend getaway.

You can enjoy California’s historic missions, wine tastings, Ostrichland, and more.

Ostrichland USA near Solvang, California

➡️ Solvang Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Solvang may be a small town, but there’s plenty to keep you busy for an entire weekend.

From wine tasting to shopping to dining, this Danish town has a little something for everybody.

Solvang, California

➡️ Santa Cruz Island Day Trip Itinerary (Channel Islands National Park)

Channel Islands National Park is just off the coast of California and you can take excursions out there from Ventura and Oxnard.

Santa Cruz Island is one of the more popular islands because of its close proximity.

Santa Cruz Island at Channel Islands National Park in California

➡️ Santa Rosa Island Day Trip Itinerary (Channel Islands National Park)

Santa Rosa Island is a little bit further out, but it’s worth the extra time to get there and enjoy this day trip itinerary.

Santa Rosa Island at Channel Islands National Park in California

➡️ Ventura Weekend Getaway Guide

Ventura is less than an hour south of Santa Barbara, so it’s easy to add to a Santa Barbara itinerary.

It’s another popular coastal town with plenty to do for all ages and interests.

Santa Paula rail bikes

Where To Eat In Santa Barbara

Here are our 2 favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara that are a must try.

✔️ Santo Mezcal

Santo Mezcal is very centrally located on State Street, so it’s super easy to find.

This was the first time I had ever tried Chicken Molé and I absolutely love it.

It’s such a different tasting sauce with the chicken and I just love it.

I also loved that they have plantains!

Santo Mezcal - State Street - Santa Barbara, California - Chicken Mole

It’s one of my favorite sides and it’s everywhere in Florida, but virtually non-existent in California for some reason!

Another trend I picked up on at this place is the refried beans.

There’s 2 things here – one is that they tend to commonly be served in these tortilla bowls in Santa Barbara.

Second is that the ones on the right are very orange and they’re amazing.

I never want refried beans another way again.

So, if you’re in Santa Barbara, check out Santo Mezcal for their Chicken Molé, plantains, and refried beans!

The rest of the meal was great too but those were just beyond amazing.

enchiladas, beans, and rice from Santo Mezcal in Santa Barbara

✔️ Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood

Holdren’s Steaks & Seafood is a phenomenal steak house on State Street.

It’s a great place to go for a special occasion or if you just like to treat yourself.

Holdren's Steaks & Seafood in Santa Barbara

Their complimentary bread service is nice and it’s a good idea to start off with a side salad.

I recommend the filet mignon and lobster tail because this is the largest lobster tail I’ve ever seen in my life.

However, it is priced at market price, so you’ll be shocked when you get the bill because the lobster tail is twice as big as a normal one, so it’s twice as much as you would expect to spend.

filet and lobster trail at Holdren's Steaks & Seafood in Santa Barbara

But if you’re sharing with someone, it’s the perfect amount of food.

The loaded baked potato and mac and cheese sides also complement the meal well.

mac n cheese at Holdren's Steaks & Seafood in Santa Barbara

For dessert, you can try the trio and get a little bit of everything.

dessert trio at Holdren's Steaks & Seafood in Santa Barbara

Conclusion: Santa Barbara’s Top 8 Beaches

From the pristine shores of 1000 Steps to the adventurous coastlines of Haskell’s Beach, it’s easy to see why Santa Barbara is a hugely desirable place to live and a visitor’s favorite.

There’s a sunny seaside spot to suit everyone!

So next time you’re feeling like a beach day is beckoning, pick one of these options. You won’t regret it. 

Pack your sunscreen, grab some snacks, and get ready for another sumptuous day on the incomparable California coastline.