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Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails

11.09.16

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Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails

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  • Sunrise from the dunes of Jalama Beach.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Seaweed along Jalama Beach.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Parts of Jalama Beach are rocky with abundant seaweed.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Looking east from the top of the point at El Capitan State Beach. Fog is beginning to clear.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • A campsite on A Loop (1-28) at El Capitan State Beach.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • The many stairs that lead down to the beach at Mesa Lane.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Lots of large boulders to be found along Mesa Lane.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • There are many birds to be seen at Mesa Lane, including the marbled godwit.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Whitewash and an ocean view on Anacapa Island.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • The foghorn and light station remain in use on Anacapa Island.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Middle and West Anacapa from Inspiration Point.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Exploring Arch Rock by kayak near Anacapa Island.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • A whitewashed corridor at Old Mission.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Mission Rose Garden.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Old Santa Barbra Mission sits perched above Santa Barbara.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Interesting sandstone rock formations in the Santa Ynez Mountains along the Inspiration Point Trail. - Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Views over Santa Barbara Channel opening up along Inspiration Point Trail.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Looking west down the beach into the fog at El Capitan State Beach.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Down the line at El Capitan State Beach.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • A short scenic walk with the mountains surrounding you on the way to the Red Rock Pools.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • The 0.5-mile trail to Red Rock Pools begins behind the gate.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
  • Surveying the swimming hole at Red Rock Pools.- Best of Santa Barbara: Beaches, Camping, Parks, and Trails
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Contributor

Nestled between the steep, scrubby San Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is a welcome, mountainous reprieve from the concrete proliferation of Los Angeles—its raucous neighbor to the south. Though Santa Barbara is by no means unknown or under-utilized as a tourist destination, its roomy beaches and steep hikes can offer a peek at the more relaxed side of southern California.

Santa Barbara boasts the longest stretch of south-facing beach in the western United States, and it is often referred to as “The Riviera” because its topography and climate mirrors that of the area along the northern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. The relatively new, dramatic San Ynez Mountains are punctuated with several peaks exceeding 4,000 feet in altitude, and every so often they receive a dusting of snow. Covered in chaparral and cartoonish sandstone spires and outcrops, they are excellent stomping grounds for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers. Adventurers with a keen eye and a bit of luck could get a chance to see the region’s keystone predator, the black bear, or other mammals like cougars, bobcats, red foxes, and white tailed deer.

The Santa Barbara Channel is one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of migrating whales. From November to April, Pacific gray whales migrate south to the temperate lagoons near Baja, Mexico, then back up to their summer homes near the Bearing Straight of Alaska. From spring to fall, humpback whales abound, and the colossal blue whale is a bit more difficult to spot. Elusive minke whales sometimes make an appearance, as do fin whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, coastal bottlenose dolphins, and rissos dolphins.

Whether you’re a sea-going adventurer, a hiker, a history buff, or someone who simply wants to wake up to a view of the Pacific Ocean, these adventures below are sure to incite the spirit of exploration.

One final note: practicing the principles of Leave No Trace is imperative in places that see lots of traffic. Red Rock Pool has been horrifically mistreated in the past—help contribute to its restoration and the betterment of public spaces by doing your part to pick up after yourself and others.

Beaches

Camping

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