Santa Barbara is one of the central California coast's most beautiful cities, located along the backdrop of the Santa Ynez Mountains approximately two hours northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Visitors can enjoy beautiful beachfront stretches at Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, Leadbetter Beach, and Shoreline Park, all located along the gorgeous Santa Barbara Harbor.
© Elings Park
Elings Park is the United States' largest privately-funded park, located near U.S. Highway 101 in Santa Barbara. The 230-acre nonprofit park was opened to the public in 1985 as Las Positas Park, located on the site of the former Santa Barbara City dump facility, and is named today in honor of donor Virgil Elings. Park visitors can enjoy one of the United States' premiere paragliding and hang-gliding trails along the park's South Bluffs, which receive spectacular prevailing wind conditions. Over nine miles of multi-use trails provide unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean coastline, while children's playgrounds and sports fields offer opportunities for day-use activities for visitors of all ages. Other attractions include the Elings Park International Raceway, the city's only designated radio-control off-roading course, and the Elings Park BMX Raceway, the city's only designated BMX track.
1298 Las Positas Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, Phone: 805-569-5611
2.Cisco Grove Gould Park
Cisco Grove Gould Park is a lovely 15.7-acre park that is located near Interstate 40 and the Yuba River's southern fork, opened to the public in 2006. The park is overseen cooperatively by the Placer Land Trust, the Emigrant Trails Greenway Trust, and the Gould Family and preserves significant montane riparian and aquatic habitats on lands that were once owned by California "Big Four" pioneer James Gould. Lovely yellow pine, cottonwood, and Ponderosa pine coniferous forested areas stretch throughout the park, with a small protected freshwater emergent wetland area located near the banks of the river. Two historic structures from the region's commercial land use history are also preserved near Highway 40 within the park's boundaries. Day-use picnic sites are open to the public, along with restrooms and a public parking area.
Gould Park, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, Phone: 805-564-5418
Hale Park is one of Santa Barbara's most picturesque public park facilities, named in honor of Kathleen Hale, the widow of Frederick Forrest Peabody. The park's land area, which sits at the city boundary between Santa Barbara and Montecito, was donated to the City of Santa Barbara in 1954 and has been developed into a 13-acre open space park framed by the backdrop of the Montecito foothills. The rustic neighborhood park showcases growth of tall eucalyptus and oak trees and offers opportunities for walking with four-legged friends off leash along its trails and open spaces. A small creek runs through the center of the park, crossing its meandering and looping trail areas. Day-use picnic areas are available for relaxation throughout the year.
Hale Park, Santa Barbara, CA 93108, Phone: 805-963-0611
4.Hidden Valley Park
Hidden Valley Park is a partially-developed family-friendly park in Santa Barbara, showcasing more than 15 acres of beautiful creekside landscape and wildlife areas. The park, which is located deep within a sunken area of the Hidden Valley, is accessible via a steep path which leads to a children's playground and large grassy area perfect for picnics and relaxation. Visitors can make use of the park's barbecue grills or let young ones play on slides, spinners, and toddler swings, which are protected by a rubber mat surface. Tall trees protect the park, which serves as a popular community gathering space throughout the year for regional children and families. Visitors should note that no restrooms are offered on site and should plan accordingly when bringing young children to the park.
Hidden Valley Park, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-564-5433
5.Hilda McIntyre Ray Park
Hilda McIntyre Ray Park is a scenic public park space in Santa Barbara, set on the former estate grounds of resident Hilda McIntyre Ray. The park, which is located along Santa Barbara's western edge, is set atop a hillside on Kenwood Road and offers delightful panoramic views of the city's skyline. A children's playground area offers activities for younger children, including a large slide and children's table, which are located on a spongy turf surface for safe play. Day-use picnic sites are offered underneath large gnarled trees, which offer shade and seclusion for relaxation and dining with family. A large lawn area is also offered, which features spectacular views of the nearby Santa Ynez Mountains. Visitors should note that no swings are offered at the playground and that no facilities are available for play for older children.
1420 Kenwood Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, Phone: 805-897-2524
6.Honda Valley Park
Honda Valley Park is a quaint neighborhood park located near Santa Barbara's Mesa, extending between West Carrillo Street and Weldon Road adjacent to Cliff Drive. The park is open to the public daily between sunrise and dusk, offering a beautiful natural landscape of tall eucalyptus and oak trees and views of the nearby Arroyo Hondo Creek. Park visitors can enjoy a number of walking trails, stretching for over half a mile throughout the park's grounds. Native wildlife at the park includes regional fox species. The park is a great choice for visitors looking for a more secluded urban nature oasis, as it is trafficked much less than many other Santa Barbara public parks.
961 Miramonte Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, Phone: 805-564-5418
7.La Mesa Park
La Mesa Park is one of Santa Barbara's best spots for seasonal picnics, serving as a popular shaded refuge throughout the region's warmer months, when temperatures can climb into the high 90s or above. The lush neighborhood park is home to a lovely children's playground area, which offers swings and spring bouncers for young children and climbing and play structures for youth up to age 12. A spacious lawn extends throughout the park and offers stunning Pacific Ocean views, with ocean breezes cooling the park down significantly compared to its surrounding area. Across the street, the Lazy Acres Market offers a wide variety of organic produce and culinary goods, perfect for stocking up before stopping over for picnics.
295 Meigs Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, Phone: 805-564-5418
Leadbetter Beach is a popular public access beach and park near the Santa Barbara Harbor, easily accessible from nearby Santa Barbara City College. The park, which is situated beneath scenic Leadbetter Hill, extends to nearby Shoreline Park and is a favorite community spot for families throughout the summer months. Water sport enthusiasts can enjoy excellent conditions for surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and sailing, with safe water conditions making it a great spot for novice surfers to hone their skills. Walking, jogging, and sunbathing are also popular along the beach's shoreline, with lifeguards staffed on duty throughout the summer months to ensure visitor safety. Beachgoers can enjoy delicious lunch fare at the Shoreline Beach Cafe or explore the nearby Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, located on the harbor's waterfront. Day-use picnic sites are also available, along with restrooms and outdoor showers.
Shoreline Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-564-5418
9.The Mission Rose Garden
The Mission Rose Garden, formally known as the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, is one of Santa Barbara's most iconic attractions, located adjacent to the Santa Barbara Mission. The gorgeous garden showcases more than 1,500 spectacular varieties of roses, planted by community volunteers in cooperation with the city's parks department. A significant portion of the garden's plantings are All-American Rose Selection winners, as the garden has been designated as one of the organization's official demonstration gardens in the United States. Other park features include a picturesque fountain and a large grassy area that serves as a popular spot for afternoon luncheons. The garden is one of Santa Barbara's most popular outdoor wedding venues, offering unparalleled mountain and ocean views.
420 Plaza Rubio, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, Phone: 805-564-5418
© Santa Barbara Parks
Oak Park is a charming picnic and recreation spot in Santa Barbara that has been used as a community gathering space since the region's Spanish Colonial occupation. Today, the park is one of the city's most-visited public parks, home to a wide variety of cultural festivals and events throughout the year, including the French Festival, held each year on Bastille Day. Stately sycamore and oak trees line the beautiful park, which is home to two children's playgrounds, two tennis course, an outdoor raised dance floor, and a number of day-use picnic sites. A shallow wading pool is open throughout the summer months for young children to play, with lifeguards staffed on duty throughout peak times.
W Alamar Ave & W Junipero St, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-564-5418
11.Rattlesnake Canyon Park
Rattlesnake Canyon Park is a popular spot for hiking and horseback riding in the Santa Barbara region, located adjacent to Skofield Park near the beautiful Santa Ynez mountain range. The park derives its name from its signature serpentine canyon, which was cultivated by the region's indigenous Chumash people as a water source from nearby Mission Creek and used by Spanish colonizers in the 19th century for the operation of the Santa Barbara Mission. During the 1920s, the canyon was owned by wealthy New York socialite Ray Skofield, whose son Hobart began the practice of planting pine trees within the canyon. Visitors can explore the lovely 2.6-mile Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, which climbs northward to an elevation of 2,475 feet above sea level and showcases native bird and wildflower species.
Rattlesnake Canyon Park, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-897-2524
12.Willow Glen Park
Willow Glen Park is one of Santa Barbara's most colorful neighborhood parks throughout the autumn months, showcasing gorgeous tall-growth trees that are decked out in vibrant yellows, red, oranges, and purples. The park is connected to Monte Vista School via a creek footbridge, with access to basketball courts at the school available to park visitors on the weekends. A large grassy field is available for relaxation, and a newly-renovated children's playground offers a safe place for young ones to play on slides, swings, and bouncing structures. An informal ball field is also offered, along with day-use picnic sites with barbecue grills. Throughout the summer months, live performances are frequently staged on the park's concrete area, which is surrounded by a shaded semicircular bench area.
Willow Glen Park, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-564-5433
13.Arroyo Burro Beach County Park
Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, also commonly referred to as Hendry's Beach, is a popular public beach in Santa Barbara County, located at the terminus of Arroyo Burro Creek along Cliff Drive. The coastal bluff-front beach is a popular dog beach for the Santa Barbara area, serving as a place where visitors can bring their four-legged friends to play on the waterfront on leashes. An off-leash play area is also available at the adjacent Wilcox Property Douglas Family Preserve. Surfers frequent the beach throughout times when water conditions are safe, with lifeguards staffed on duty throughout the summer months. A large grassy lawn area at the beach park offers day-use picnic tables and barbecue grills, with a seasonal restaurant and snack bar offered at the park's official municipal park building. The park is also home to the Watershed Resource Center, which offers educational programming related to the region's natural watershed ecosystem.
2981 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109
14.Rocky Nook Park
Rocky Nook Park is a lovely 19-acre park located minutes from downtown Santa Barbara, originally donated to Santa Barbara County for use as a public park facility by Sam and Carolyn Stanwood in 1928 in honor of Frances Dabney Oliver. The park, which is a current contender for Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark status, is home to unique features such as the 1910 Oliver watering trough and the Mission Creek bridge. Stunning landscape elements include large sandstone boulders, majestic oak and sycamore trees, and areas of native vegetation. A children's playground is offered, along with day-use picnic sites offering barbecue grills.
610 Mission Canyon Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, Phone: 805-568-2461
15.Tuckers Grove Park
© County of Santa Barbara
Tuckers Grove Park, officially known as San Antonio Canyon Park, is a charming tree-lined park located along the banks of San Antonio Creek, serving as one of the Santa Barbara region's most spacious public park facilities. The park is a frequent spot for group outings and private special events, including corporate events, due to its facilities that are able to accommodate up to 400 guests. In the park's lower section, a children's playground offers safe play experiences for young children, featuring slides, swings, sand pits, and a concrete racing station area. The uphill San Antonio Creek Trail is a popular area spot for hikers, runners, and bikers, accessible via a trailhead at the park's parking lot.
4800 Cathedral Oaks Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93111, Phone: 805-568-2461
© Lux Blue/stock.adobe.com
Shoreline Park is one of Santa Barbara's most popular public parks, stretching on top of a mesa along a narrow strip of land on the Pacific Ocean waterfront. The 14.6-acre park, which is located near Leadbetter Beach and Arroyo Burro Beach in the city's East Mesa neighborhood, is a perfect spot for families to enjoy beach activities throughout the summer months, with tide pools exposed on the park's waterfront during low tide conditions. Park amenities include a children's playground, day-use picnic sites, and a whale watching area with a telescope for observing migratory gray whales and dolphins in the Pacific Ocean. A sister city Japanese garden is also featured at the park, along with an off-leash dog park area.
Shoreline Dr & Santa Rosa Place, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, Phone: 805-564-5418
Alameda Park is one of Santa Barbara's oldest public park facilities, located adjacent to Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. The two-block park, which was established by municipal ordinance in 1853, is home to a wide variety of rare tree plantings, which may be explored as part of Alameda Plazas self-guided tree tours. An 8,000-square-foot children's playground known as Kid's World, constructed in 1993, is a popular family attraction at the park, offering a castle play structures, slides, swings, and reservable birthday party sites. A bandstand is also offered at the park, along with a variety of day-use picnic sites and public restroom facilities. The park hosts a number of annual public special events throughout the year, including the city's Summer Solstice celebration.
1400 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
18.Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens
Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens is a gorgeous botanical garden facility in Santa Barbara, located adjacent to Alameda Park and the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. The park, which spans an entire city block, is located on the former site of the El Mirasol Hotel, which was demolished in the 1960s and donated to the City of Santa Barbara in 1975. A beautiful botanical collection showcases 75 tree and plant species, which may be explored as part of the park's self-guided tour route. Other features include a koi pond, a sensory garden with accessibility features, a low-water demonstration garden, and a number of scenic and spacious walking paths. Visitors can use day-use picnic areas or host private special events at the gardens, including wedding ceremonies.
1500 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-564-5484
19.Andree Clark Bird Refuge
Andree Clark Bird Refuge is one of Santa Barbara's largest wildlife refuges, spanning 42 acres of saltwater marsh habitat near the Santa Barbara Zoo and U.S. Highway 101. The park, which was designated in 1928 following land donations by Anna Clark and her daughter Huguette, is one of Santa Barbara's most famed natural gems, home to a 29-acre freshwater lake that serves as an artificially-modified estuary habitat and empties into the Pacific Ocean at East Beach. Three walking paths are offered on the lake's northern shores, along with a bike path on the lake's southeastern perimeter. More than 200 bird species have been observed at the refuge, including threatened species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
1400 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, Phone: 805-564-5418
20.The Douglas Family Preserve
The Douglas Family Preserve, also referred to as the Wilcox Property, is a lovely public park in Santa Barbara, stretching across more than 70 acres of undeveloped oceanfront area. The park is the largest coastal open space area within the city's limits, located along the mesa stretch above Arroyo Burro Beach, and was formerly the site of the Wilcox nursery until 1972. In 1996, a citizen campaign was enacted to save the park's lands from commercial development, which included donations from actor Michael Douglas. Today, visitors can use the park space for hiking, cycling, off-leash dog walking, and wildlife watching, with areas available for hang-gliding practice by experienced hang gliders.
Parma Park is a charming open space in Santa Barbara near the junction of State Routes 144 and 192, spanning over 200 acres of oak woodland and chaparral along the banks of Coyote and Sycamore Creeks. The park, which was donated to the city in 1973, remains relatively undeveloped today and offers over five miles of hiking trails, including the Creek Trail, Ridge Trail, Plateau Trail, and Stanwood Trail. At the end of the Ridge Trail, visitors can observe panoramic city views at Rowe's Table, a 775-foot plateau named in honor of park volunteer Rowe McMullen. Day-use picnic sites are available, along with areas for hang gliders and paragliders to land from nearby launch points at Gibraltar Road.
Stanwood Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 9310, Phone: 805-564-5418
Skofield Park is a 35-acre open space and natural preserve in Santa Barbara County, located adjacent to Rattlesnake Canyon Park at the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains. The park is housed on land formerly belonging to New York socialite Ray Skofield and was used as a site for the Los Rancheros Vistadores men's horseback riding camp in the 1930s. Since 1954, the land has been open to the public as an urban park, offering opportunities for walking, hiking, and wildlife watching. A nature path is offered at the park, along with beautiful oak groves and day-use picnic sites. The park is also home to Santa Barbara's only reservable group campsites, available for rental by nonprofit youth groups.
23.Chase Palm Park
Chase Palm Park is a lovely waterfront park in Santa Barbara, located two blocks east of Stearns Wharf on Cabrillo Boulevard along the city's Pacific Ocean coastline. The two-mile park, which has been honored with the Santa Barbara Commons Public Open Space Award, is home to a custom-designed shipwreck-themed children's playground offering a nautilus shell play area, conch shell lighthouse, and a variety of artistic murals. The lovely Chase Palm Park Carousel is also located within the park, along with a spacious great meadow, a designated skateboarding area, and a number of bicycle trails. Visitors can observe turtles and koi fish at the park's lagoon or make use of day-use picnic sites in shaded spots throughout the park.
323 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Phone: 805-897-1983
24.Mission Historical Park
© Bill Perry/stock.adobe.com
Mission Historical Park is one of Santa Barbara's most iconic landmarks, spanning 10 acres throughout the city's downtown near the preserved historic Santa Barbara Mission. The park, which was established between 1928 and 1948, is best known for its historic 1786 Spanish Colonial mission, the 10th mission constructed by Spanish colonizers in the state of California. It is designated as a California State Historical Landmark today, along with the city's A.C. Postel Memorial Rose Garden, which is contained within the park and showcases more than 1,500 varieties of beautiful award-winning roses. The mission's preserved waterworks, grist mill, aqueduct, and tannery vats are also showcased at the park, along with an historic olive grove that honors the city's World War I veterans. Visitors can tour the mission for a nominal fee daily.
Laguna St & E. Los Olivos Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93103, Phone: 805-897-1941
25 Best Santa Barbara Parks
- Elings Park, Photo: Elings Park
- Cisco Grove Gould Park, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Hale Park, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Hidden Valley Park, Photo: jvezzani/stock.adobe.com
- Hilda McIntyre Ray Park, Photo: suwatwongkham/stock.adobe.com
- Honda Valley Park, Photo: watkaenamo1/stock.adobe.com
- La Mesa Park, Photo: Justin/stock.adobe.com
- Leadbetter Beach, Photo: DavidMSchrader/stock.adobe.com
- The Mission Rose Garden, Photo: serg_did/stock.adobe.com
- Oak Park, Photo: Santa Barbara Parks
- Rattlesnake Canyon Park, Photo: natalya2015/stock.adobe.com
- Willow Glen Park, Photo: Jason/stock.adobe.com
- Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, Photo: cmfotoworks/stock.adobe.com
- Rocky Nook Park, Photo: Panama/stock.adobe.com
- Tuckers Grove Park, Photo: County of Santa Barbara
- Shoreline Park, Photo: Lux Blue/stock.adobe.com
- Alameda Park, Photo: Kira_Yan/stock.adobe.com
- Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, Photo: ivandancom/stock.adobe.com
- Andree Clark Bird Refuge, Photo: kgrif/stock.adobe.com
- The Douglas Family Preserve, Photo: wildnerdpix/stock.adobe.com
- Parma Park, Photo: anastas_/stock.adobe.com
- Skofield Park, Photo: alexkich/stock.adobe.com
- Chase Palm Park, Photo: aquamarine4/stock.adobe.com
- Mission Historical Park, Photo: Bill Perry/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com