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East Beach and the Sandcastle Festival

Santa Barbara, CA
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East Beach and the Sandcastle Festival, Santa Barbara California

Description

To us, East Beach is called Tiki and Toko Warriors Beach! There are these strange woven fence-type things that run parallel to each other near the second (easternmost) parking lot. My son balances driftwood against them to make teepees. Then he designs a game of war between the Tiki warriors and the Toko tribe! It's great fun.
There's a colorful playground with baby swings, both literally in the sand. It's mostly empty though because homeless people hang out in the shade area near the playground.
It's fun to watch the volleyball players at East Beach. Or to go for a long stroll around the gorgeous red cliffs on the eastern end all the way to beautiful Butterfly Beach. Summer weekends are packed at East Beach and people sit under the umbrellas at East Beach Grill enjoying yummy (but heavy) blueberry wheatgerm pancakes and watching the passersby on the East Beach boardwalk. It's a fun scene!
In early September, East Beach comes alive with the Sandcastle Festival. This is my favorite Santa Barbara festival. Groups gather to build their best castles in the sand. The creations are extraordinarily clever! At the end of the day, the winners are announced. Plus, there is hula dancing and live music. There are icecream stands and cold drinks to buy- you have to buy one of the chilled coconuts and sip the juice straight from the shell! This is out of this world yummy! The best part of the festival is walking around and watching the creations throughout the day as they are transformed into the final masterpieces. There is also a rubber duckie race in the ocean that kids enjoy watching.
I wouldn't recommend swimming here if the storm drain area is open to the ocean. Otherwise it should be ok. Check the water quality before you go. It is always very cold in the ocean in Santa Barbara so don't expect a relaxing swim!
There are restrooms at the Cabrillo Pavilion Bathhouse, the white Spanish building.
There's some great bikeriding around here: Cabrillo Bike Path leads from East Beach to the pier, West Beach, and the harbor. You can bike all the way to beautiful Shoreline Park. Across the street from East Beach is the beginning of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge Bike Path, where you will have stunning views of the lush green Montecito hills.
Other places to visit near East Beach are: Santa Barbara Zoo, with its gorgeous views and great exhibits; Doubletree Walk, a walk along Cabrillo Blvd under palms and past tropical flowers; and Chase Palm Park, an amazing park with a playground that is a tiny Spanish town and shipwreck, a carousel, and a stream surrounded by long wispy grass.

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Photo Gallery

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The bear from behind! Notice the fur!
The bear from behind! Notice the fur!
A sandcastle in progress!
A sandcastle in progress!
Baby swings with a view!
Baby swings with a view!
Sunny August day at East Beach.
Sunny August day at East Beach.
Party down at East Beach- a busy Sunday on the sand. Notice the tiki warrior station!
Party down at East Beach- a busy Sunday on the sand. Notice the tiki warrior station!
East Beach boardwalk- a happening scene on summer weekends. Grab a beer at East Beach Grill, sit under the umbrellas, and people watch!
East Beach boardwalk- a happening scene on summer weekends. Grab a beer at East Beach Grill, sit under the umbrellas, and people watch!
Crowds hang out and watch the beach volleyball games.
Crowds hang out and watch the beach volleyball games.
The Cabrillo Pavilion Bathhouse, where East Beach Grill is located. Behind it- the Radisson Hotel tower.
The Cabrillo Pavilion Bathhouse, where East Beach Grill is located. Behind it- the Radisson Hotel tower.
Cold day at East Beach- notice the two brave souls in the water.
Cold day at East Beach- notice the two brave souls in the water.
Kids play in the sand at East Beach, while a jogger heads toward the lovely red cliffs.
Kids play in the sand at East Beach, while a jogger heads toward the lovely red cliffs.
Audience participation during hula dancing at the Sandcastle Festival.
Audience participation during hula dancing at the Sandcastle Festival.
Hula dancing at the Sandcastle Festival.
Hula dancing at the Sandcastle Festival.
Kids like to watch the hula dancing!
Kids like to watch the hula dancing!
A Sandcastle Festival entry.
A Sandcastle Festival entry.
Awesome Pacman sand sculpture- typical for nerdy Goleta!
Awesome Pacman sand sculpture- typical for nerdy Goleta!
Starfish sand sculpture and the sea beyond.
Starfish sand sculpture and the sea beyond.
Octopus sand sculpture and the Cabrillo Bathhouse Pavilion beyond.
Octopus sand sculpture and the Cabrillo Bathhouse Pavilion beyond.
Beautiful sand castles...aaah this is the life!
Beautiful sand castles...aaah this is the life!
Swimmers bolt after they hear the buzzer at an East Beach swim meet.
Swimmers bolt after they hear the buzzer at an East Beach swim meet.
Swim meet at East Beach.
Swim meet at East Beach.
Saturday morning at East Beach Grill.
Saturday morning at East Beach Grill.
Summer weekend morning at East Beach.
Summer weekend morning at East Beach.
Red cliffs of East Beach, as seen by boat.
Red cliffs of East Beach, as seen by boat.
Sand volleyball players.
Sand volleyball players.
Lovely shoreline at East Beach.
Lovely shoreline at East Beach.
The distance vegetation on the cliffs is wonderful.
The distance vegetation on the cliffs is wonderful.
The soft, abundant sand.
The soft, abundant sand.
Incredible sunset at East Beach.
Incredible sunset at East Beach.
Swings in the sand.
Swings in the sand.
The fun playground.
The fun playground.
Climby structure at the playground.
Climby structure at the playground.
A boy plays in the sand at the playground.
A boy plays in the sand at the playground.
The red cliffs between East Beach and Butterfly Beach.
The red cliffs between East Beach and Butterfly Beach.
Cute little boulders strewn on the beach.
Cute little boulders strewn on the beach.
The pretty area east of East Beach.
The pretty area east of East Beach.
A lady looks toward the mesa from the red cliff area.
A lady looks toward the mesa from the red cliff area.

Directions

From Highway 101, exit at Milpas Street. Turn towards the ocean. Turn left on Cabrillo Blvd and then turn right into a parking lot. There are two parking lots for this beach: one before the historical white Cabrillo Pavilion Bathhouse building and the other after it. The second parking lot has the playground and tiki warrior fences.
The parking fee of $3 for three hours is paid by the honor system- you stick dollar bills into the slot that has the same number as your parking space. You can use your car key to get the dollars to slide in all the way.
There are restrooms inside Cabrillo Pavilion Bathhouse, the fancy white Spanish building.
East Beach Grill, 1118 East Cabrillo Boulevard, Santa Barbara CA 93103, call (805) 965-8805. Serves breakfast and lunch.

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Visitor Ratings

Overall Visitor Rating:


Gin
12/27/2016 04:49
At the end of a long Santa Barbara weekend we got a huge treat...an orange sunset quite a spectacle!!

Jessica
11/25/2009 20:50
awww i wish i could have gone this year...i'm sad i'm missing it and all the fun...i had a blast last time =D

JH
11/06/2009 15:20
Simply amazing, Pacman, bear, octopus...beats a tired sandcastle anyday!!

Darline
10/01/2009 13:43
a great event!

Carey
09/09/2009 14:37
Great beach. East Beach Grill is great too. We get breakfast (or just a cup of coffee) and then let our baby run wild on the beach. She loves chasing the birds. There is also a playground there.

Last Updated Mon, 15 Oct 2012 00:03:36 GMT