Running in Santa Barbara is a big part of the local culture. With summer series like Night Moves, Santa Barbara running is something not to be missed. Long considered Los Angeles’ sleepy neighbor, this beach town is home to many celebrities, executives, and athletic locals. The variety of great restaurants and year-round nice weather makes Santa Barbara the ideal destination for wellness travel. When visiting, be sure to bring your running shoes to explore these Santa Barbara running routes.

Where to Run in Santa Barbara

Uniquely situated between the Figueroa Mountain range and pristine coastline, there is endless opportunity for amazing runs. The five Santa Barbara coastal towns are (in order from South to North):

  • Carpenteria
  • Summerland
  • Montecito
  • Santa Barbara
  • Goleta

Each town offers its own special running experience and a unique perspective of the area. Depending on where you start from, there are plenty of out-and-back trails as well as fun running lopes.

Best Santa Barbara Runs

Best Out-and-Back Run in Santa Barbara

The Stearns Wharf to Shoreline Park out-and-back is the most popular running route in Santa Barbara. A ocean front 3.70 mile run, the route starts at the bottom of State Street at Stearns Wharf and has a mild elevation gain of about 100′ on the climb up to The Mesa.

Santa Barbara Run – Wharf to Mesa 3.7miles

After the run, treat yourself to a lobster roll from Santa Barbara Shell Fish Company. The lobsters are caught locally and brought in to the Santa Barbara Harbor. During the lobster season, you can buy freshly caught lobsters – or “bugs” as the fisherman call them – directly from the fish market at the harbor.

SB Shell Fish Company

Best Running Loop in Santa Barbara

More Mesa is one of a few ocean front nature preserves that has a fun network of dirt trails.

More Mesa Ocean Front Trail Run: 3.20 Miles

Nature Preserve Running Routes in Santa Barbara

The Nature Preserve trails in Santa Barbara make the city a paradise for runners. Below are the top four nature preserves for running in Santa Barbara. Each coastal preserve offers something a little different while providing amazing maintained dirt trails.

Douglas Preserve

Named after Michael Douglas who donated the money to save the preserve from the fate of becoming a resort, the Douglas Family Preserve is a local favorite. The perimeter trail is roughly 1.70 miles which can be lengthen through zig-zagging different trails.

Douglas Family Preserve – 1.20 mile loop

Coronado Butterfly Preserve – Ellwood Mesa Running Trails

A monarch butterfly preserve, Ellwood Mesa is the largest of the coastal preserves in Santa Barbara. The perimeter running trail is roughly four miles with multiple criss-crossing routes. A unique variety of eucalyptus forest and open grasslands along the coastal cliff side make for the most scenic running trail in Santa Barbara.

Ellwood Mesa – 4.01 Mile Loop

More Mesa Trail Runs

Bordering the exclusive neighborhood of Hope Ranch, More Mesa is a convenient ocean-front dirt running trail. There are multiple access points from the roads which makes for a fun variety of starting points.

More Mesa Ocean Front Trail Run: 3.20 Miles

Running Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

The roughly 2 miles long preserve sits at the southern end of Carpinteria. The loop shown below is 2.97 miles and can be easily shortened or lengthened. Stop by downtown Carpinteria post run for meal at one of the many great restaurants in town.

Running Stores in Santa Barbara

The best running store in Santa Barbara is the Santa Barbara Running Company which is located on Coast Village Road in Montecito. Featuring everything you need to hit the running trails, the Santa Barbara Running Company has been the only independent running store in the area since 2003. The Santa Barbara Running Company carries the following running shoe brands:

  • Altra
  • ASICS
  • Brooks
  • New Balance
  • On
  • Saucony

Along with running shoes, the store features its own line of running clothing “rabbit” as well as all the hydration and supplements you need.

1046 Coast Village Road, Montecito, CA 93108