There’s nothing easier than finding a beach in Santa Barbara. Just follow State Street to its end, and you’ll be at the coastline. Municipal beaches flank Stearns Wharf on either side—rather uncreatively named East Beach (1400 Cabrillo Blvd., www.santabarbaraca.gov, daily sunrise–10 p.m.) and West Beach (West Cabrillo Blvd., www.santabarbaraca.gov, daily sunrise–10 p.m.). In fine SoCal tradition, these beaches are broad and flat and sandy, lending themselves to Frisbee and ball games, beach volleyball, and lots of lounging about in the sunshine.
To the north of town, Arroyo Burro Beach (Cliff Dr., 805/687-3714, www.sbparks.org, daily 8 a.m.–sunset) is a favorite for dog-owning locals. To the right as you face the water, dogs are allowed off-leash to dash across the packed sand and frolic and fetch out in the gentle surf.
Arroyo Burro is rockier than the downtown beaches, making it less friendly to games and sunbathers. But the rocks and shells make for great beachcombing, and you might find a slightly smaller crowd on sunny weekend days. You’ll find a snack bar, restrooms, outdoor showers, and a medium-sized pay parking lot for your convenience.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition