Goleta Beach Park

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Santa Barbara, CA
Goleta Beach Park
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Goleta Beach has a fun, festive atmosphere. The vibrant blue sea is a colorful sight. Too bad the county has let the grass go (even though they are close to the sanitary district where there is recycled water) and now there is just an abundance of dirt blowing around. There is also a very strong odor from the lagoon sometimes. Families gather on the weekend to have BBQs overlooking the beach, which is good or bad depending on whether you like smoke wafting around. Little kids flock to the playground, which has views of the water. The sand by the swings can keep kids busy for hours if you bring some spoons and cups. There are usually international moms associated with UCSB at the playground on weekday afternoons so it makes for some fun conversations.

Older kids bodyboard in the waves on warmer days. On weekdays, students jog along the sand by the cliffs or sit on one of the many picnic tables and study. In winter and spring Goleta Beach can be quite a cold beach, so bring a sweater. If you don't mind very cold water, bring a swimsuit in summer! If the lagoon is open to the sea, this beach is one of the most polluted ones along the coast, so don't wade or swim on those days.
Sometimes I've seen dolphins swimming and making their graceful arched dives near the west side of the beach very close to shore. It's a wonderful sight!
For kids, the abundant driftwood at this beach leads to endless imaginative games. During beach preservation in the spring some areas are closed off while tractors haul sand from the oceanfloor back to the beach, but afterwards, there are tall "cliffs" of sand that kids can jump off. This is a blast!
On the east side of Goleta Beach there is a rugged, wide fishing pier, which is pleasant to stroll along. See the mountains, the endless blue sea, and the stunning white cliffs that line the beach from a romantic walk on the pier. Look down at the long strings of kelp reaching to the surface. See what the fishermen have pulled up. Check out the seagulls as they balance meditatively on the railings.
A restaurant at the base of the pier is coming soon! It will be called The Ellwood at Goleta Beach.
Walk further east and you come to a lagoon where white cliffs topped with eucalyptus reflect in the pale green water. It reminds me of Australia.
To grab a picnic for the beach, try the Mexican burrito place, El Sitio Restaurant Fairview, on Fairview Avenue (a five minute drive). This is delicious Mexican food- something you should try while in California! The building doesn't look like much but their adovada burritoes are yummy and memorable- spicy pulled pork, rice, beans, and cheese, in a perfectly browned tortilla! The other meals haven't been as good (avoid the fish tacos). McDonald's is next door so you can get happy meals, which sells the picnic idea to your kids.
You can eat your picnic on the east end of the lawn, which is the only green section. Who knows why they aren't watering the west end of the lawn and have let it get all dusty- the recycled water plant is only 500m away so it makes no sense!
For a toy store nearby, check out Bennett's Toys & Educational Materials. They have a train set your kids can play with while you look at their toy and book selection. It is a six minute drive east. After, have a cup of tea at Crushcakes, in a cute craftsman house with big windows and a back patio with flowers and a lime tree, or at Old Town Coffee which has outdoor seating with strung lights, or Dean A Coffee Shop which has large windows, outdoor seating under umbrellas, and good egg sandwiches. There are many coffee shops around here!
A bike path leads east of Goleta Beach all the way to Modoc Rd and Hope Ranch. To the west it leads to UCSB and to the groovy college town of Isla Vista. It's nice to ride without the noise or fumes of cars.

Continue to directions...

A lone seagull contemplates the life by the sea...

A beautiful string of kelp as seen from the pier.

Wild surf on a January day at Goleta Beach.

Huge waves at Goleta Beach- February 2008.

Hot summer day at Goleta Beach!

The western end of Goleta Beach, near UCSB.

The western end of Goleta Beach, as seen from the bike path that leads up to UCSB.

A seal in the water at Goleta Beach, as seen from the rocky cliffs on the western end of the beach.

Goleta Pier, with UCSB in the background.

Lagoon and white cliffs.

The east side of the beach where the lagoon meets the sea.

It's peaceful to walk beside the lagoon when you reach the east end of the beach.

Swings with a view!

View of the ocean from the playground.

Bench, blue water, pier. Too bad the grass is gone.

A young couple enjoy the view.

Kids playing on the playground.

February flowers.

You can see the Channel Islands in the distance.

View of Goleta Beach pier, from UCSB.

Under the pier.

Running on the pier.

The cliffs and lagoon.

Kelp wrapped around a pier pilon.

Rows of palm trees make this a quintessential California beach.

SUP far out in the water.

The end of the pier, looking back toward the mountains and beach.

The grass is not green these days.

California dreamin...

Goleta Beach at sunset.

Golden light at the pier.

Looking toward the pier.

Moon over Goleta Beach, near the lagoon.

UCSB on the cliffs.

Picnic by the playground.

Beach volleyball on the sand.

Lifeguard shack and dying lawn. I don't know why they don't use recycled water.

The playground is always a hit!

Building sand castles.

Sitting outside at Dean A Coffee Shop, six minutes drive away.

Dean A Coffee Shop is six minutes drive away.

The pier and lawn- some of the lawn is dead these days.

An ocean kayak, ready to go!

Lazing in the sun.

Reading a book in the sun at Goleta Beach.


Goleta Beach Park is located at 5986 Sandspit Road, Goleta, CA 93117. Parking is free.
From Highway 101 northbound, take Highway 217. Exit at Sandspit Rd and turn left. The road curves to the left and the entrance to Goleta Beach Park is on your right.
From Highway 101 southbound, exit at Patterson Rd. Turn left and then left again and follow the signs to Highway 217. Exit at Sandspit Rd and turn left. The road curves to the left and the entrance to Goleta Beach Park is on your right.
There are public restrooms on both ends of the beach.
To get to El Sitio Mexican Restaurant: From the beach, turn left out of the parking lot. The road curves to the right. You will pass the airport and then take the left fork. Cross Hollister Ave. El Sitio will be just after the McDonalds and laundromat on your right.
El Sitio, 102 South Fairview Ave, Goleta CA 93117, call (805) 964-6104.


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Wed, 09 Sep 2009

This August at Goleta Beach, my two kids ran the kids' race in the 31st Annual Endurance Event sponsored by McConnells Ice Cream. They enjoyed the free ice cream after their race! And the beach of course.

Last Updated: Mon, 26 Feb 2024 15:43:14 GMT

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