Santa Barbara’s best beaches

leadbetter beach santa barbara

9 must see beaches in Santa Barbara

We have to admit, living along the American Riviera has its benefits. Sun and surf are part of the culture here and we’ve put together a list of our favorite local beaches for you to explore during your stay. Whether you plan to BBQ, surf, shop, sail, walk the shore with Fido or simply lay out and bask sunshine, there’s a beach for you. Here are 9 not-to-be-missed Santa Barbara beaches.

1.   Hendry’s Beach – Arroyo Burro Beach County Park

hendrys beach santa barbara

Locals call this beach “Hendry’s” and if you’ve brought your dog with you to one of our pet-friendly vacation rental homes, Hendry’s beach is the place to bring him – or her. On the left side of this picturesque beach, dogs can run leash-free. There’s also a pet-wash machine located in the far lot to wash the sand off your pup before returning home. Hendry’s is also the home of The Boathouse, one of our local favorites restaurants. Enjoy spectacular views during breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just come for drinks.

2.   Butterfly Beach

butterfly beach santa barbara

Nearest to Montecito, Butterfly Beach is directly across the street from the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. It’s considered one of the best beaches from where to watch the sunset, given its west-facing position. This is an ideal beach for sunbathing and catching up with a great novel. Celebrity sightings have been known to happen, so keep your camera handy.

3.   East Beach

east beach santa barbara

Follow the bike trail toward East Beach, which is across from the Santa Barbara Zoo. There’s no shortage of activities here to satisfy outdoor lovers. Swimming and sunbathing are the obvious choices, but feel free to join a game of volleyball or take to the bike or rollerblading paths. Children will enjoy the playground and nearby food stands.

4.   West Beach

west beach
photo: Damian Gadal (CC BY 2.0)

Looking off Stearn’s Wharf to the west is West Beach. After walking the pier it’s an easy jaunt down the bike path and onto the sand. There’s plenty for water lovers to do, on and off the ocean. Los Baῆos Public Pool is a short walk away and there’s also a nearby wading pool for kids. Rent kayaks, paddle boards or head over to the nearby Harbor for a sailing cruise. Skateboarders will also love the nearby Skater’s Point skatepark.

5.   Leadbetter Beach

leadbetter beach santa barbara

 

Leadbetter is a popular spot for picnicking on the grassy area, making it an ideal beach for social gatherings and BBQs. Bring meats ready for grilling on the built-in grills next to the picnic tables. Kick back and watch the local surfers in the distance, as it’s also a known surf point. From here, you can walk up the hill to Shoreline Park for an overview of the beach and the perfect vista point to admire The Channel Islands.

6.   Hammond’s Beach

photo: California Sea Grant (CC BY 2.0)

Hammond’s is a local favorite for surfers and a bit hidden. This exclusive beach has a meadow behind it. Park at the shared lot this beach has with Miramar Beach and walk the trail through the meadow onto the beach. Enjoy a peaceful walk along the shore picking up bits of driftwood along the way.

7.   Padaro / Santa Claus Lane

padaro beach carpinteria

Locals nicknamed Padaro beach as “Santa Claus Beach,” since the easiest point of access is via Santa Claus Lane. Santa Claus Lane is lined with beachside restaurants and shops making this beach the perfect locale for an afternoon outing. Located in Carpinteria, this beach is a quick drive from Santa Barbara, but very worth the short trip. Wait for low tide to walk north in front of the lovely homes along Padaro Lane.

8.   Summerland Beach

summerland beach

Another quick drive outside of Santa Barbara but well worth the short trip is Summerland Beach. Enjoy sweeping views from the park at the top of the cliff then walk down the long pathway onto the beach. Hopefully, you brought the dog, as it’s dog-friendly here. Grab lunch or breakfast at the nearby restaurants just up the road.

9.   Campus Point

campus point

Just as you might guess, Campus Point Beach is near the University of California Santa Barbara. If you consider yourself a beginner surfer, this is where you’ll find your peers. One part of Campus Point is in front of the campus’ lagoon and the other is below the main campus bluffs. But there are actually two areas to this beach – Campus point is to the east, and the area to the west is called Depressions. Park at the end of Lagoon Road but note that spots are limited during school hours.