You want to go to a place that beckons with adventure and discovery. A place that offers epic days full of enjoyment that end with feet kicked up as the sun sinks low. A place that is on the coast and down to earth, with wide-open beaches and hidden gems. Welcome to Goleta Vacations — where you GO for fun!
This attractive beach community has been called “the jewel in the crown” of the Santa Barbara coast. It is renowned for its typically sunny weather, while the fog that shrouds its well-to-do neighbor is rarely in evidence. The town happens to be the geographic location of both the University of California campus and the airport that serves the nearby city. Seals are rare on Southern California beaches, but you’ll find them here.
The 9 acre Coronado Butterfly Preserve and the Ellwood Main Monarch Grove, for which it serves as a gateway, are among the best locales to see the beauteous orange and black insects. Massive numbers of monarchs fly up to 3,000 miles to roost in the coastal eucalyptus trees; birds and wildlife also thrive here. The best viewing is between December and February.
Enjoy the many wonderful beaches of Goleta, (you’ll find a list here), then come visit Goleta. Our Goleta Vacations guide has all your answers to start planning your beach vacation. Just keep reading!
Goleta Weather – When to Visit
The busiest month for tourism in Goleta is June thru August. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months, though you can save if you purchase well in advance. The warmest time of year is generally late August to early September where highs are regularly around 78.2°F with temperatures rarely dropping below 58.1°F at night.
Monarch butterflies migrate to Goleta each November through February and this amazing sight is best viewed at the Goleta Butterfly Grove. The site is open sunrise to sunset with no admission fee, but the City of Goleta does accept donations to support the Monarch Butterfly Docent Program. The grove is adjacent to the Sperling Preserve on the Ellwood Mesa. The Ellwood Mesa open space includes 137 acres of natural terrain with designated trails and beach access.
The South Coast Railroad Museum in Goleta, California, focuses on the history, technology, and adventure of railroading. Special emphasis is placed on the railroad’s contributions to local history, on the Southern Pacific Railroad, and on the key historical role of the railroad depot in rural community life across America. The museum centerpiece is Goleta Depot, a country railroad station house built by the Southern Pacific in 1901 during completion of the Coast Route joining San Francisco and Los Angeles. Goleta Depot is listed on the National Register of Historic places.
Known for its long fishing pier and sunbathing beaches, these 29 acres are often a destination for bicyclists on the area’s paved trail system. Between the lively restaurant and BBQ picnic areas are volleyball, horseshoes and children’s playgrounds. The park features: BBQ Grills, Beach Access, Benches or Picnic Tables, Bike Trails, Bird Watching, Boating, Fishing, Group Picnic Areas, Horseshoes, Playground, Restaurant or Snacks, Restrooms, Swimming, art in the park, and seasonal lifeguards.
The Coal Oil Point Reserve is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. The reserve protects natural habitats to support research, education, outreach, and stewardship. One of the best remaining examples of a coastal-strand environment in Southern California, the Coal Oil Point Natural Reserve protects a wide variety of coastal and estuarine habitats. Largely undisturbed coastal dunes support a rich assemblage of dune vegetation and rare wildlife, including the dune spider, the globose dune beetle and the threatened Western Snowy Plover.
Refugio State Beach offers excellent coastal fishing as well as trails and picnic sites. Palm trees planted near Refugio Creek give a distinctive look to the beach and camping area. Lifeguards patrol the beach year around while lifeguard towers are only staffed roughly from Memorial day weekend through Labor day weekend. Beach wheelchairs are available for use by the public at no cost. With this specially designed chair, wheelchair users may access the beach at several locations. Contact a ranger or lifeguard for additional information.
Things to Do in Goleta
Santa Barbara Wine Tour with Picnic Lunch
See and taste the best the Santa Barbara coast has to offer on this leisurely paced wine tour and picnic lunch. You’ll sip on a variety of wines and visit at four local wineries in the area. Knowledgeable local guide will pick you up anywhere in the Santa Barbara area to begin the tour. Feast on a delicious picnic lunch at one of the wineries while enjoying the scenery of the rolling coastal mountains. Read more about Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tour
Full-Day Iconic Sights of LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the beaches and more!
From the Hollywood sign to the celebrity mansions of Beverly Hills, Los Angles is so full of iconic sights it can be tricky to see them all. This guided tour seamlessly transports you by coach to all of the city’s top attractions — from Santa Monica Pier to the Sunset Strip — so that you don’t need to worry about missing a thing. Read more about Los Angeles Tour with Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and beaches
Hollywood Hills Hike: Explore Griffith Park and Hollywood Sign
Griffith Park is California’s 2nd largest park, so we’re excited to take you on one of the best Los Angeles tours out there! Our team of CPR/First Aid certified guides are photographers, entertainers, history buffs, and (most importantly) professionals. Hike Griffith Park with us to discover the Hollywood Sign and tour Griffith Observatory as we regale you with how Hollywood became the entertainment capital of the world. Read more about Hollywood Hills Hike
Private Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara
This private Santa Barbara kayaking tour lets you explore the marine life and landmarks of Santa Barbara Harbor and the spectacular coastline on the ‘American Riviera’ along one of four different routes. Take in views of rugged shoreline cliffs and the Santa Ynez Mountains, and be on the lookout for dolphins and seals. This 1.5- to 2.5-hour tour is led by an experienced kayak guide who points out natural features and customizes the speed of the ride according to your skill level. Read more about Santa Barbara Harbor Private Kayak Tour
Surfing Lesson in Santa Barbara
There’s hardly a better place to learn to surf than the Southern California locale of Santa Barbara, which offers fantastic weather year-round. During this 1.5-hour lesson, an expert instructor shows you how to stand up on your surfboard and balance, offering tips on how to catch the perfect wave while ensuring your safety in the water. Wetsuit and surfboard rental are included, and all skill levels are welcome. Read more about Santa Barbara Surfing Lesson
Best Goleta Restaurants
Goodland Kitchen & Market Under $10
This gem of a restaurant is located in the heart of old town Goleta. Breakfast and lunch are served Monday through Saturday. Everything is made in-house with the freshest ingredients in limited quantities. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some of their sandwiches and salads to sell out. Warm baked good are also available, like melty chocolate chip cookies and homemade poptarts. Their lemonade is legendary and the fresh-brewed coffee is delicious. Goodland also operates as a commercial kitchen, allowing community cooks to produce small-batch treats. Telephone: 805-845-4300 Web: Goodland Kitchen & Market.
Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch Under $10
The Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch serves up Mexican-style mesquite BBQ chicken and tri-tip. Try one or both with a side of tortillas, rice and chips. Try their burritos, they’re delicious. And don’t miss the salsa bar, it’s stocked with fresh salsas, pickled onion and jalapenos that will bring out the smoky flavors in your order. Sides of fresh guacamole can be ordered, too. Telephone: 805-692-9200 Web: Santa Barbara Chicken Ranch.
The Natural Café $11 – 30
This is a local favorite for vegetarian and vegan options. This restaurants serves up delicious chicken and fish entrees. Popular dishes include their fresh fish tacos, savory meatless burgers and signature Caesar salad generously topped with avocado. They offer beer, regional wine, natural sodas and delicious custom blended smoothies and shakes. Telephone: 805-685-2039 Web: The Natural Café.
Beachside Bar Cafe $11 – 30
Beachside Bar Café in Goleta offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean as well as a fun atmosphere with great food. Whether you are visiting Santa Barbara for the first time or you are a longtime local, Beachside offers a unique dining experience that will keep you coming back for years to come. Telephone: 805-964-7881 Web: Beachside Bar Cafe
Sushi Teri $11 – 30
The fish is fresh and the daily specials are fresher. Sushi Teri has a variety of sushi rolls, grilled fish and teriyaki plates on their menu. Try their chirashi bowl or sushi sampler if you want to sample different varieties. Sushi Teri also has ramen and udon noodle dishes. There is green tea (iced or hot) and your choice of sakes. Telephone: 805-964-9909 Web: Sushi Teri.
Best Goleta Bars
Mixing some of the Santa Barbara Area’s finest cocktails in the heart of beautiful Old Town Goleta. There’s a good selection of whiskeys here, as well as a specialty cocktail menu that includes such favorites as cucumber margaritas and marmalade sours. Telephone: 805-967-300 Web: The Imperial.
The Good Bar
An intimate, laidback lounge designed to invite you in and let the good times roll with a billiards table, backgammon boards and a coastal cool soundtrack. This is where spirits including premium whiskey, tequila and mezcal are mixed with local ingredients like lavender and mint to create notoriously delicious cocktails. There are also local craft beers and wines from vineyards just a cork’s throw away Telephone: 805-964-1288 Web: The Good Bar.
M. Special Brewing Company
Try some of the area’s best brews at M. Special Brewing Company. This brewery and bar serves up fresh drafts of their own beer crafted on site. Offering up lager, Saison, IPA and more… the menu changes with what’s available. This is a great place to pull up a seat at their long wooden bar and catch the game on TV. Telephone: 805-968-6500 Web: M. Special Brewing Company.
Break Time Sports Bar
Goleta’s best dive bar. Enjoy a relaxing bar (or cocktail), play a round of darts and maybe catch the game on TV. There are also pool and pinball tables, as well as the occasional live band. A true local’s favorite for years. Telephone: 805-692-9911 Web: Break Time Sports Bar.
This is a hidden gem in an unassuming strip mall. The Mercury is something of a haven, a dark velvet calm of a wine and beer bar complete with low couches, a single pool table, vintage glassware and a cozy rear patio. With dozens of beers to choose from and a wine list that leans local, it’s a connoisseur’s type of place – perfect for intimate conversations or dark solo musings. Telephone: 805-967-0907 Web: Mercury Lounge.
Best Goleta Hotels
Hampton Inn Santa Barbara/Goleta
This California hotel is just 2 miles from Goleta Beach Park. Hampton Inn Santa Barbara/Goleta features an outdoor pool, a hot tub and rooms with flat-screen cable TVs and free Wi-Fi. The rooms have microwaves and refrigerators. They also include sitting areas and desks. Rooms with sofa beds are also available. For guests’ convenience, Hampton Inn Goleta serves breakfast. The hotel has a gym as well as a business center and meeting facilities.
In a lush grove of trees off Highway 101, this all suites hotel features an outdoor pool and hot tub in a garden setting and offers a daily cooked to order breakfast. Santa Barbara Municipal Airport is a 5 minute drive away.
Free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, a sofa bed and a refrigerator are offered in all of the contemporary guest suites at Pacifica Suites. The spacious suites are comfortably designed and include a work desk, a hairdryer, guest bathrobes and tea/coffee-making facilities. For guest convenience, Suites Pacifica offers free parking. An on site business center and a 24-hour front desk are also featured.
Kimpton Goodland features a year-round outdoor pool and terrace. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. All rooms include a flat-screen TV. Some units have a sitting area for your convenience. Every room comes with a private bathroom equipped with a bathtub or shower. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes, free toiletries and a hairdryer. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property. You can play pool at this hotel, and free use of bicycles is available.
Courtyard by Marriott Santa Barbara/Goleta
Just 4 miles from Santa Barbara Airport, this Goleta hotel features an outdoor pool and hot tub. A restaurant and fitness center is on site. Free Wi-Fi is included in all guest rooms. A flat-screen TV with cable is included in all rooms at Courtyard by Marriott Santa Barbara Goleta. Tea and coffee-making facilities are provided. Guests of Goleta Courtyard by Marriott Santa Barbara can enjoy American cuisine at the Bistro. Breakfast and dinner is available.
Hilton Garden Inn Santa Barbara/Goleta
Featuring free WiFi, Hilton Garden Inn Santa Barbara/Goleta offers accommodations in Santa Barbara, just 19 miles from Solvang. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Every room is fitted with a TV. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property.