Park It: Enjoy a Day in the Sand or on the Grass

Geneva Ives

By , Local Expert, Santa Barbara
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Fun in the sun — that's what parks and beaches are all about. If you're looking to spend some time outdoors in the sunshine in Santa Barbara, this list is perfect for you. Read about the top 10 beaches and parks in the area so you can plan your visit accordingly.

Ready for a little surf? Try Santa Claus Beach to see where the locals hang out or - if you have little ones - head for Carpinteria State Beach, considered one of the safest beaches in the nation. If you're staying near Montecito, Butterfly Beach is a great spot to visit. The people watching is top notch in this celeb-studded neighborhood.

Not in the mood for a car...  Read more »

  • 1

    Chase Palm Park

    • Type: Parks
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    This park gives you the total Santa Barbara experience: lush grounds, beautiful open spaces, a...  Read more »

    Local Expert Tip: "Make sure you have a few dollars handy to ride the gorgeous historic carousel."

  • 2

    Santa Claus Beach

    Santa Claus is a local favorite for it's wide sandy shore (limited rocks, too!) and pleasant but mild waves.

    Local Expert Tip: "Bring your camera! Between the seashore scenery, nearby train tracks, mountain backdrop and beachfront homes and businesses, you're guaranteed a lot of golden vacation photo opps."

  • 3

    Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden

    • Type: Gardens
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Pack a picnic and grab your sketchbook if you're artistically inclined, this is hands-down the most beautifully landscaped park in town.

    Local Expert Tip: "If you time your visit just right - and you're into this sort of thing - you're likely to run into a small wedding or two!"

  • 4

    Carpinteria State Beach

    Considered "the safest beach on the West Coast" by Doctor Beach, Carpinteria State Beach has a natural...  Read more »

    Local Expert Tip: "Plan a day around your trip to this beach. Enjoy a swim, then pop into some shops off the main avenue and grab a burger at The Spot."

  • 5

    Elings Park

    This park boasts the best of everything, from great hiking trails to relaxing shaded areas, a dog park and sports fields.

    Local Expert Tip: "Elings Park makes a great wedding venue, with spectacular city and oceans views as your backdrop."

  • 6

    Butterfly Beach

    This beach is very 'Santa Barbara,' boasting loads of clean white sand and tan people in designer swimwear.

    Local Expert Tip: "Arrive early or late in the day if you want to get a spot, this see-and-be-seen beach is usually packed!"

  • 7

    Leadbetter Beach

    • Type: Beaches
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Pack some snacks! The free BBQ grills and picnic tables onsite are first come, first serve.

    Local Expert Tip: "Leadbetter Beach is within walking distance from the Santa Barbara harbor, so park in this area to spend a fun, budget-friendly day."

  • 8

    Alameda Park

    • Type: Parks
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Alameda Park is the most kid-friendly park in town, with a huge wooden playground and lots of grassy space to run.

    Local Expert Tip: "Multiple picnic areas lend themselves to outdoor birthdays and other celebrations. Bring a pinata and hang it from a low branch."

  • 9

    East Beach

    • Type: Beaches
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    East Beach is comfortable, clean and has a lot of nearby parking. There's also restrooms and a restaurant onsite.

    Local Expert Tip: "Don't forget your volleyball! A number of nets will make your dreams of Tuesday (or any day) spent playing beach volleyball a reality."

  • 10

    Andree Clark Bird Refuge

    • Type: Reserves
    • Neighborhood: Santa Barbara

    Every great outdoor park list should include a peaceful spot for avian observation - this is Santa Barbara's. Bonus: it's close to the beach!

    Local Expert Tip: "Birds aren't the only thing to see here - cute wild bunnies roam the grounds, too."



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