Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is an ideal holiday destination for lovers of the outdoors and nature, especially during the spring and summer months. Surfers, sailors and sun worshipers can enjoy some of the most beautiful coastline California has to offer, while hikers and bikers can test their endurance with trails extending deep into the Los Padres National Forest. But if your idea of vacation aligns more with relaxation instead of activity, the American Riviera offers plenty of leisurely-paced outdoor fun, like world class golf courses with ocean views, family picnic spots on the beach and romantic sunset sailing. Whether you’re up for a challenge or want to take it slow and easy, here are three of the most popular warm weather activities and outdoor things to do in Santa Barbara.


popular warm weather activities and outdoor things to do Santa Barbara


Golfing in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara golf courses are especially scenic with both ocean views as well as mountain views. The Sandpiper Golf Club in Goleta is a championship golf course that was rated by “Golf Digest” as one of the top 25 public golf courses in the nation. Players of all skill levels can enjoy rolling fairways that have hosted several professional tournaments. A round of golf is truly an experience to remember with breathtaking ocean vistas and mountain views from every hole.

Set against the rolling foothills, golfers at Glen Annie Golf Club can also enjoy sweeping ocean and mountain views while playing a challenging layout. Relax in style with a drink at the clubhouse while overlooking this gorgeous landscape. This lovely location is also a great venue for weddings and special events.

Picnic at Lizards Mouth or hike Gaviota Peak

For those who love nature but appreciate a more leisurely hike, Lizard’s Mouth offers a relaxing setting that opens to scenic views. Hike or bike this quarter mile route off of West Camino Cielo Road and enjoy a picnic in the warm California sun.

For those who are up for a challenge, Gaviota Peak is a 6.5-mile loop hike up to a 2,458-foot peak. Not for the faint of heart, this hike is perfect for the outdoor adventurer and is only about a 30-minute drive outside of Downtown Santa Barbara.

Sailing to Channel Islands National Park and whale watching

One of the great things about sailing in Santa Barbara is that you can really choose your own adventure. Opt for a sunset sail and let the pros handle the work while you relax on the open water with a glass of wine in hand. Another option is to take the kids whale watching and enjoy an educational tour of the harbor and learn a little about the local sea life. Others might like a longer seafaring adventure sailing out to the Channel Islands National Park. These five islands are just off the coast of Santa Barbara but are home to wonderous plant and animal life, as well as raw beauty that’s perfect for touring via kayak and terrain ideal for hiking. Check out our article on four great sailing trips to take in Santa Barbara.


Most popular warm weather activities for spring and summer months in Santa Barbara


Enjoy Santa Barbara’s Beaches

What would a trip to Santa Barbara be without at least some time spent enjoying the beach? There is a beach for every mood, be it volleyball playing on East Beach, playing catch with the family dog at Hendry’s Beach or trying stand-up paddle boarding near the Harbor. But above all, the American Riviera is the perfect destination to just relax and work on your tan.

Arroyo Burro Beach is a dog-friendly beach off Cliff Drive that’s known to locals as Hendry’s Beach. It is located below the Douglas Family Preserve. The left of the beach is where dogs can run free off-leash.

Leadbetter Beach is a popular beach across from Santa Barbara City College and is just west of the Harbor. The long strip of grass makes this beach a great spot for families to picnic and then have some water and sand fun. Check out the surf report and bring your longboard.

Just next door is Butterfly Beach in Montecito. Bask in the laid-back sophistication of this chic and chill beach in a town that’s home to quite a few celebrities and most recently royalty, since Prince Harry and Meghan moved in. Butterfly Beach is along Channel Drive, just across the way from the Four Seasons Biltmore.

Where to stay in Santa Barbara to enjoy outdoor activities during spring and summer

If you’re looking for the best time to visit Santa Barbara, consider booking your vacation rental home for the spring or summer season. With ideal weather and plenty of outdoor activities everyone can enjoy, your Santa Barbara getaway will certainly be trip to remember. Search your dates now: