Looking for an easy bike ride in Santa Barbara? You've come to right place! This half-day adventure will take you past some of the best sights along the coastline and then into town for a quick bite.
The Santa Barbara coastal trail is about 4.5 miles long and is open to cyclists and pedestrians — Photo courtesy of Damian Gadal
The bike trail that runs along the Santa Barbara coast is about 4.5 miles long, paved and has two lanes for straightforward travel. Leadbetter Beach and the Santa Barbara harbor anchor one end of the path, while the Santa Barbara Zoo and Andree Clark Bird Refuge sit at the other end. Stearns Wharf is right in the middle.
You can pick up the trail at any point, just remember to share the road with pedestrians.
When you have seen all the sights along the way, or have simply had your fill of breathtaking scenery, cross Cabrillo Blvd at State Street and stay in the bike lane on the right-hand side of the road. Turn right at Yanonali St. to bike through Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, a hip part of town that's home to wineries and art galleries.
In just a few short blocks you will see Metropulos - a restaurant, deli and grocer - on your left-hand side. There is no better place to pick up a delicious sandwich or salad if you're hungry.
What if you don't have a bike?
If you didn't bring your own bike, don't fret. Many Santa Barbara hotels have complimentary beach cruisers for guest use. If that's not available to you, you can always rent one at one of the bicycle rental places along the beach.
Rates vary, but it usually costs well under $50 for a half day (and sometimes even a full day). If you want a bike the whole family can ride, consider a surrey. A single surrey will seat 3 children and two adults, while a double surrey will seat... well, pretty much double that!
What if you have kids?
This ride is perfect for kids. The route is paved and mostly flat, with few obstacles and limited intersections. There are also multiple bathrooms along the way, as well as places to stop for snacks.
Since the bike path can get busy, especially during the weekends, it is a place to teach children proper biking etiquette. If they do not know their hand signals already, now is a good time for a lesson.
What if you want to ride a little further?
No problem. You can easily extend this half-day biking itinerary into a longer adventure. Instead of stopping at the bird refuge where the trail appears to end, simply cross the street to turn up the hill. The trail picks up along the cemetery (spooky!) and then continues, soon revealing a glorious stretch of coastline leading to Butterfly Beach.
You can stop at the beach or pop into the luxurious Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara for a cocktail and a little celeb spotting. Or continue into ritzy Montecito for some shopping and a bite to eat before heading back into town.