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Santa Barbara Off the Beaten Path: Best Beach Spots

by Eugenia Lazaris

Aug 29, 2022

© Arlene Mendoza

Multigenerational

When visiting a city like Santa Barbara, spending some time at the beach is an absolute necessity, especially for family travelers. But with so many beautiful beaches to choose from, where do you begin?

 

beach

East Beach © Arlene Mendoza

 

For a classic day at the beach, head to East Beach. While this might be the most popular beach for tourists, it deserves a spot on this list for its classic Santa Barbara scene. With surfers dotting the waves and the city sprawled out behind, it is a great place to relax and enjoy the sun. The beach includes a walking path and nearby Stearns Wharf and Chase Palm Park to explore.

 

Butterfly Beach, while technically in neighboring Montecito, is a laid-back spot frequented by Santa Barbara locals for its sandy shore and calm waters. The beach doesn’t offer any public facilities, so rather than large crowds, you are more likely to find die-hard locals who know a good thing when they see it. You’ll find this beach to be a little more difficult to get to than most because parking is limited, especially on weekends, but renting a bike and taking the 3-mile trail from Stearns Wharf, in between East and West beaches, will take you right to Butterfly Park. The reward will be worth it.

 

trail

© Arlene Mendoza

 

No list of great beaches would be complete without an option that includes the family dog in the fun. For families traveling with their four-legged friends, head to a local favorite known as Hendry’s Beach. This spot, also known as Arroyo Burro Beach Park, has soft sand, public restrooms and a great eatery, making it the ideal place for families with pets to enjoy a day at the beach.

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