UCSB Campus, Lagoon, and Beach

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Santa Barbara, CA
UCSB Campus, Lagoon,  and Beach
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The campus of University of California Santa Barbara, a former US marine corps base and home to UCSB since 1954, is a beautiful 1,000 acre nature area. Bordering the Pacific ocean on three sides, the campus is gifted with eucalyptus groves, a lagoon, and Campus Point Beach each with good surf and pretty bluffs. The best way to see it is the walk below, which will take about 2 hours, depending on whether you stop to take tons of photos like I did or you simply walk!

Start near the Campbell Hall parking area and make your way south along the wide walkway adjacent to Campbell Hall (home to Arts and Lectures concerts) through an umbrella of trees. To your right will be the Coral Tree Cafe where you can sit outside and have a cup of tea with banana bread or a freshly-grilled gardenburger. Continue on the wide walkway. The beautiful grassy knolls of Campus Green that lead to the Engineering section of campus will be on your left. Sciences and Engineering are the main focus at UCSB, and the many Goleta engineering companies that exist today were started by former students.
You will pass a large square called the Arbor where students hang out. Here you can sit on a grassy hill in the shade under a canary palm. There's A Slice of Woodstock's Pizza on the right, some chairs and tables, and Summit Cafe. Soon you'll come to Davidson library on the left. Notice the zillions of bikes on campus, and the fantastic system of bike paths. There are so many bikes on the bikepath that it is practically life-threatening trying to get across!
Continue on the walkway and turn right after the Music Building. A row of palms and umbrella trees leads to Campus Center (UCen) where you can eat lunch. I like the self-service salad bar on the second level where you can get fresh soups and breadsticks. The balcony outside Starbuck's Coffee is a tranquil place to take in views of the lagoon. Downstairs there are fast food restaurants and outdoor tables overlooking the lagoon. A popular cafe is Root 217, which offers organic food with sustainable plates and utensils.
There are free World Music concerts every Wednesday at noon (during the school year) at the Music Bowl, a small grassy amphitheatre located in the Music Building courtyard. It's a great place to bring your lunch and soak up the happy atmosphere.
Make your way from the UCen to the east under strands of eucalyptus trees beside the lagoon. Here are the freshmen dorms. At Lot 5, you will find a path with stairs that takes you around the lagoon to Campus Point Beach. There is a wooden handrailing and many wildflowers. You will pass through a lovely wooded area with greenest lawn. I've always wanted to have a picnic here under the huge trees with views of the shimmering lagoon! Head down to the beach. A wooden staircase with lookout points leads up onto the bluffs above the beach to the Labyrinth Trail. It's magical up there! Every bend leads to new cute views of the beach below. Watch the surfers on the point and the water splashing up over rocks.
Campus Point is where UCSB holds its summer surf camps. Watch the kids laugh and goof around below! Because it is protected from the west wind, the surf is good. This classic point break has 2-3 takeoff spots, best during medium and large swells. As you walk around the point, from the bluffs look down on the tidepools below, and then 2nd Depressions, a bodyboarding spot with fast, consistent lefts. See the bodyboarders ride with glee!
If you look around, you may find clay pigeons on the ground. This area was the firing range where the marines practiced their shots during World War II.
You can either follow the Labyrinth Trail down to the lagoon that leads back to the UCem, or you can turn around and walk north along Lagoon Rd. Here you will find a coastal path that parallels the road and winds its way atop the cliffs above Goleta Beach. Marvelous views present themselves with each turn. Once you get to the Highway 217 entrance to campus with its impressive archway, cross Lagoon Rd and check out all the brand new buildings. Elings Hall is a modern glass building with streamlined landscape design and a cafe. Here you can enjoy an omelet or sandwich.
Walk back to Campbell Hall by passing through Engineering II and taking the wide walkway through Campus Green. You will see the beautiful architecture of the white Physical Sciences North building on your right and many sculptures dotted amongst the shady lawn.
Soon you will be near Campbell Hall and can make your way back to the parking lot! I hope you enjoyed your walk!
If you have kids, check out the Gorilla Playground, behind Robertson Gym, between the gym and the back of the main Recreation Center. It's not far from the parking lot. The gorilla sculptures are so fun for kids to climb!
The bike path that starts at Lagoon Rd leads down to Goleta Beach and all the way to Modoc Rd in Hope Ranch. It's a ride along a creek without any cars or fumes! Many students use this bike path to get to campus from their rental apartments.
Make sure you check out the happening college beachtown of Isla Vista! You can walk there from campus.
Also nearby is sunny Camino Real Marketplace where you can enjoy a cranberry oatmeal muffin from Anna's Bakery on the red brick terrace and people-watch. If you're looking for a playground there's one at the unusual and pretty Dinosaur Park near Faculty Housing. For a gorgeous walk to sand dunes and a surfing beach, check out Coal Oil Point.

Continue to directions...

Shady walkways near Campbell Hall leading to Coral Tree Cafe.

Outside Davidson Library, the Coral Trees have golden trunks!

Lagoon and dorms, as seen from the tables on the UCen balcony, outside Nicoletti's Coffee Shop.

Chairs and tables on the upstairs UCen balcony. Eucalyptus trees behind, near the freshman cafeteria.

The tables outside Campus Center, overlooking the lagoon.

My favorite spot on the sloping lawn by the lagoon, near Campus Point Beach.

The same spot, but taken from the other side.

Campus Point Beach, near the Marine Studies center. A great place for beginners to learn to surf!

Campus Point Beach, as you approach the bluffs trail.

The bluffs trail.

View of Campus Point Beach from the bluffs trail.

Around the point, there is a great area for bodyboarding called 2nd Depressions! Watch the consistent, fast lefts from the bluffs!

Views of Campus Point surf break from Lagoon Rd.

View of blue-green water and the white cliffs of Goleta Beach, as seen from the walkway on Lagoon Rd.

View out to sea from the coastal path along Lagoon Rd.

A crescent-shaped beach right below Lagoon Rd.

Engineering students cross Lagoon Rd and sit here, taking in views of Goleta Beach.

Palm-lined walkway on Lagoon Rd, with sweeping views of Goleta Beach!

New building on the northeast side of campus- lovely colors!

Modern buildings on the northeast side of campus, overlooking Goleta Beach.

Elings Hall, with a cafe, on the northeast side of campus.

Cafe with outdoor seating, and views of modern Elings Hall.

The wide walkway that leads from the center of campus to the Engineering buildings. Wonderful open spaces.

Physical Sciences North, a beautiful building surrounded by lawns.

Elison Hall and the pyramid sculpture in front.

The marvelous eucalyptus trees on campus.

The Music Bowl at UCSB.

Kids dance to Caribbean music at the Music Bowl.

Tropical spot near the library.

Umbrellas outside Summit Cafe, near the library.

Canary palms at The Arbor.

Shady spot on the lawn.

Modern architecture outside the library.

Workout equipment near the freshman dorms.

Calisthenics exercise equipment near the freshman cafeteria.

Exercise stations near the freshman cafeteria and the Campus Point parking lot.

UCen, perched on a hill above the lagoon.

A bench by the lagoon.

The lawn where graduation is held.

The Physical Sciences North building with its lovely Norfolk pines.

Art by Bari Ziperstein, in the campus art museum.

Picnic table on the lagoon, near Campus Point Beach.

Palm trees in front of De La Guerra Dining Commons.

Pelicans enjoying a sunny October day at the lagoon.

Coral Tree Cafe- such a nice place to sit!


From Highway 101 northbound, take Highway 217. Continue to the end, pass under the UCSB entrance arch, and turn right on Ocean Rd. Turn left on University Plaza. Turn right into the large parking structure.
From Highway 101 southbound, exit at Los Carneros Rd. Turn towards the ocean. After you pass Hollister Ave, turn left on Mesa Rd. Turn right on University Plaza. Turn right into the large parking structure.
Cost for parking is $3 for one hour, $5 for two hours, $7 for a day. You go to one of the pay machines and pay there with credit card, then walk back to your car and put the ticket on display in the windshield.
After parking, walk to Campbell Hall where the walk above begins.
You could also park for free at Goleta Beach Park and walk up the hill to Lagoon Rd and the university.
The best time to see the campus is autumn, when there is rarely any fog to obstruct the views of the lagoon and ocean. Summer can be nice too because there are lots of people at the beach, but after 2pm is best, when the fog will have lifted.
There are restrooms and showers at Campus Point Beach.
Call (805) 893-8000 to reach the campus operator.


Click on map for interactive view


Add your comments
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Wed, 09 Sep 2009

Wow, these noon concerts are really neat, thanks for sharing. I want to go!

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Thu, 18 Aug 2011

An absolutely amazing campus and school. I envy anyone who attends this University. And these photos barely scratch the surface.

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Thu, 01 Oct 2009

So wish I could be there....to be back in the day.... Gauchos!

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Sun, 23 Jan 2011

Is this the only college campus situated on a beach? Really amazing.

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Fri, 17 Jun 2011

Gee, the map doesn\'t show the monument where the University of Akron soccer team jumped into the ocean with their NCAA Championship trophy. Shame!

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Fri, 14 Jan 2011

This is a nice lagon i love this

Last Updated: Sun, 15 Jan 2023 02:02:07 GMT

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