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Getaway Guide: Goleta
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Getaway Guide: Goleta

Gather your crew and don your best swimsuits, a fun trip to Goleta is all you need to bid the summer farewell in style.

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5 min read

August 17, 2021

It feels good to be in Goleta. An authentic California beach town in every sense, Goleta has views and opportunities awaiting on every corner. The remarkable year-round weather, pristine beaches, and diverse ecosystem mean that you can explore, eat, and play through a weekend full of adventures in Goleta, Santa Barbara. Gather your crew and don your best swimsuits, a fun trip to Goleta is all you need to bid the summer farewell in style. 

Goleta was incorporated as a city in 2002, after a long period as the largest unincorporated populated area in the county.

Day 1

Arriving

A weekend in Goleta will give you a wonderful taste of the area, but it will still leave plenty of fun to be had for your next trip. A hidden gem commonly outshined by its more glamorous neighbor Santa Barbara, Goleta is a town rooted in rich natural beauty, culture, and an enduring agricultural tradition; and you’re about to explore it all.

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But, first thing’s first, you should get the tedious task of checking into a hotel out of the way. If your idea of the ultimate coastal SoCal vacation is longboards, poolside beverages, and fresh seafood, then you’ll find your place at The Goodland. Goleta, as a rich agricultural land, has earned the nickname “The Goodland” over the years, hence the hotel’s name. Here, you’ll find eclectic surf-inspired decor, a resort-style pool, and a laid-back vibe perfectly complimenting that of Goleta

Is The Goodland not really your vibe? The super lux Ritz-Carlton Bacara is another Goleta hotel you should consider instead. You’ll stay on 78 acres of artful oceanside property, connected by lush, meandering garden paths and two miles of natural beach in a sun-drenched setting. 

The 1,500-foot pier in Goleta Beach County Park provides boaters, fishermen, and families out for a stroll fantastic views of the Pacific.

Afternoon

Now that that’s out of the way, off to the beach we go. Goleta Beach Park is located next to the University of California, Santa Barbara campus and is one of the best beaches in the area. 29 dedicated acres with a fishing pier, white sands, and paved trails await you to choose your own adventure. You can enjoy water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, or stroll the 1,500-foot pier, have a picnic, and play volleyball. There are also plenty of restaurants nearby to grab a bit after.

Next up is paying a visit to Fairview Gardens. This vast farmland features the best of the fresh flavors Goleta is known for. Situated on a 100-year-old working organic farm in the center of the town, Fairview Gardens organically produces over 100 different types of fruits and vegetables. This visit is especially fun if you’re traveling with curious little kids. Sign up for a guided tour, take part in the fun farm activities, and have a farm-to-table dinner that’s as straightforward as can be.

Located on the Calle Real strip in Goleta, Outpost celebrates the diversity of SoCal in an approachable atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Outpost.

Evening

At this point, your stomach must be rumbling already. The small town of Goleta packs a big punch when it comes to dining, so stay on theme and head to Outpost to enjoy Southern California-inspired cuisine. The restaurant at The Goodland hotel serves a laid-back beach fiesta in your mouth in a modern and stylish setting. Think bao buns, fish tacos, ocean-to-plate entrees, and ceviches, accompanied by delicious drinks—yum!

Returning back to the hotel after dinner, watch as the sun sets over the ocean and gives the charming town of Goleta a romantic glow. The beach, sun, and tasty eats of the day will definitely have you feeling worn out at this point, so nothing will feel as satisfying as sinking into a bed of fluffy pillows, listening to the sounds of the crashing waves in the distance.

The area of present-day Goleta was populated for thousands of years by the native Chumash people.

Day 2

Morning

Both of the Goleta hotels we mentioned offer wonderful breakfast options you definitely won’t be able to resist. But, if you’d rather sleep in and have breakfast later, Cajun Kitchen Cafe is your friend. This comforting cafe boasts a great selection of breakfast plates, as well as family meals that’ll satisfy more than a few stomachs.

With full energy and a good night’s sleep, you’re fully ready to tackle a scenic hiking trail. From mountainous treks to charming town paths, Goleta has something to offer for hikers of all levels. To walk through open spaces filled with beautiful wildflowers, make your way to Ellwood Bluffs. You’ll find miles of recreational trails for hiking and biking and enjoy gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. For a lakeside adventure, head to the beautiful Lake Los Carneros which features an easy one-mile walk all around the lake.

But, if you’re more of a biker than a hiker, you’ll love the Goleta Obern Trail. The route starts and ends at Goleta Beach, providing easy parking and all the amenities you need such as water fountains and restrooms before riding off. The flat trail in its entirety is 21 miles. As you advance further, you’ll see lemon groves, old Chumash villages, and views of the ocean before ending back at Goleta Beach where you started.

Goleta occupies the coastal plain between the Santa Ynez Mountains, the principal mountain range of southern Santa Barbara County, and the Pacific.

Afternoon

You’re now ready for another deliciously organic meal. Jane at the Marketplace is a popular local spot that serves American bistro fare with European influences. Everything on the menu is delicious, and the salad bowls and sandwiches are especially delicious for lunch.

Next up on the itinerary of things to do in Goleta is experiencing its roots. While this coastal town wasn’t actually incorporated until 2002, it does have a vivacious and rich history you’d want to learn about. Of all the museums in Goleta, the most popular is perhaps the South Coast Railroad Museum. This museum will send you on a train trip to the past and show you all you need to know about the history, technology, and adventure of railroading in California.

Goleta is a safe and active community that prides itself on the high quality of life available to its residents.

Evening

Any trip is a good trip for a spa day in California, but Goleta is an especially awesome place to unwind and bask in the serenity of your surroundings. The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara is as luxurious as can be. Set above the calming blue waters of the Pacific, this spa offers every treatment imaginable such as a redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room, fireside lounge areas, adults-only pool, jacuzzi, and a rooftop terrace.

After your day of exploration and relaxation comes to an end, it’s time to spend one last night in beautiful Goleta. You’ll feel like the weekend passed all too quickly, and daydreaming of more trips to this coastal town will be all too common. But we don’t think this is goodbye; it’s definitely a “see you soon!” 

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