Santa Barbara City Beaches: East Beach, West Beach, Ledbetter, Arroyo Burro Beach Park and Mesa Lane
Palm-lined Cabrillo Boulevard, which runs along the shore downtown, frames Santa Barbara's city beaches, starting to the southeast with East Beach, which extends from the Andree Clark Bird Refuge to Stearns Wharf.
Waves along here are gentle, explaining why this is the city's most popular beach. Perfect for swimming, fishing and beach volleyball. There's also a bike path/promenade along Cabrillo. A wide park separates the beach from the boulevard -- perfect for picnics. And across Cabrillo,
face the beach, along with
restaurants and sidewalk cafes.
West Beach extends beyond the wharf to the harbor. Like East Beach, swimmers and young waders like it here, plus you'll find a playground and children's wading pool. Kayakers often launch from West Beach.
To the west of the harbor, Ledbetter Beach has slightly bigger waves, making it popular with beginning surfers. Swimmers and fishermen like it here, too, and families and groups who come for the barbeque and picnic facilities.
Photo Opportunity: At the end of Ledbetter beach, follow the stairs up to Shoreline Park for a view of the Channel Islands. Depending on the time of year, you also might see migrating grey whales.
Follow the coastline west to Arroyo Burro Beach Park for swimming, fishing, tide pooling, and surfing. This is a local favorite, with barbecues and a picnic area.
The nearby Brown Pelican Restaurant is also popular with locals and has a snack bar window for taking food back to the sand.
Arroyo Burro Beach allows dogs, and they can be off-leash east of the slough, but must be on-leash within and west of the park.
Mesa Lane Beach, known locally as "Thousand Step Beach," is another local hang-out. It gets its name from its 241 steps from the end of Cliff Drive down to the beach. The descent is worth it for its striking setting and the beach's great surfing.