Once described as the sleepy beach town north of LA, Santa Barbara has blossomed into its own unique community. The combination of mountains, ocean and well planned downtown provide locals and visitors a variety of experiences for you next athletic vacation. If you are an athlete, wondering what to do in Santa Barbara, you have come to the right spot.

What to do in Santa Barbara
Top 3 Athletic Vacation Ideas

Over the past decade, Santa Barbara has attracted a migration of tech company HQ’s. Global names like Zoom, LinkedIn, Deckers and FLIR have offices in the area now. The work-life balance of the town has been attracting high performers and fueling the growth of the city.

If you are looking for an inspiring destination for you next athletic vacation, Santa Barbara provides some of the best hiking trails, secret surf spots, and beautiful ocean front running routes. We highlight what to do in Santa Barbara when you craving an ocean adventure, trail adventure or a combination. Call a friend and start planning your Santa Barbara athletic vacation!

Santa Barbara Hiking Trails

The Santa Ynez Mountains snug up to Santa Barbara and offers endless hiking trials. Some of the trails can go for 30+ miles if you are looking for extreme adventure. We highlight some of the shorter hiking trails that are close to downtown.

Santa Barbara hiking trials
  • Tuckers Grove Park – Located off N. Turnpike, this park is the perfect starting point for a variety of hikes of varying distances.
  • Stevens Park – This is one of those trails that can be a short afternoon hike or a longer hike when connected to the Jesusita Trail that climbs over 1800′ and provides amazing views of Santa Barbara.
  • Inspiration Point – Around a 2 hour hike that has 900′ in elevation gain, this is a go-to hike for locals. Located just past the Botanical Gardens, the trailhead is easily accessible and close to the downtown.
  • Cold Springs Trail – Starting at Gould Park, the Cold Springs trail is another core trail for SB locals. During the right time of year you will find some amazing waterfalls along this 2.2 mile loop that takes roughly 1.5 hours.
  • Romero Canyon Trail – Located in the foothills of Montecito, the drive to the Romero Canyon trailhead takes you by some of the amazing homes in Montecito. Offering a 6-mile loop, the Romero Canyon trail is a must do.

Santa Barbara Running Route

what to do in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Running Trails

East Beach offers miles of paved running trails that connect all the way to Montecito’s famous butterfly beach. On low tide the hard pack sand is perfect for running. If you are staying downtown, this is the go-to running trail for a quick 5k or an extended 10k. Staying for a few days? Try running towards Ledbetter Point and the Mesa for a change of scenery.

Best Local Surf Spot

The Channel Islands make finding surf in Santa Barbara a challenge. Even when a swell sneaks through, many of the breaks are sensitive to tide – limiting your window of opportunity to surf even more. Luckily there are a few consistent spots that tend to catch more swell and break on most tides.

where to surf in Santa Barbara
Mesa Lane Surf Break

One of the go-to spots in Mesa Lane. A favorite by locals, this laid back break is an awesome place to hangout, catch waves, and picnic on the beach. In town for work without a surfboard? Check under the stairs on the beach, there is usually a communal Wavestorm that is available for anyone to take out.

Where to Eat

Coast Village Road is the locals stopping ground for amazing restaurants and cute boutique shops. Olivers is by far the best restaurant in Montecito. The menu is plant based but you would have guess by the flavors that the chef creates.

For a quick post surf meal, try Lily’s Tacos at the bottom of Chapala Street in the downtown area. The classic hand held tacos can be ordered with a variety of diverse meats. The perfect spot to re-fuel after a salty surf session.

Planning your Santa Barbara Vacation

The combination of the steep Santa Ynez mountains and the pristine Pacific Ocean make Santa Barbara a unique destination. When it comes to athletic travel, SB is an athlete playground. Outdoor enthusiasts can mountain bike in the morning, surf in the afternoon, and hike in the evenings. All within close proximity to the vibrant downtown.

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