15 Best Things to Do in Goleta, CA

Goleta, CA
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The city of Goleta is located on the south coast of Santa Barbara County in Southern California.

Beckoning you with adventure and discovery, this lively and spirited city has much to offer you!

Goleta City is known for its exciting and authentic beach towns and is home to vibrant green and blue spaces all around.

Surrounded by water, this coastal city is complete with parks, beaches, and outdoor recreational activities to ensure a good time.

Festivals and other celebrations are also frequent events that you can catch on your trip!

Below are some of the best things to do in Goleta, California.

Take a Scenic Drive to Arroyo Hondo Vista Point

Scenic view of the Pacific Coast via Hondo vista point.
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Arroyo Hondo Vista Point is on a California highway just off of Southbound 101 on the northern end of Goleta.

This scenic spot overlooks the water, with picturesque bridges towering over its beach, Arroyo Hondo Beach.

The mesmerizing view of the concrete arch of the bridge makes the trip to this tourist attraction worthwhile.

This site also contains a campground where guests can set up their tents and campfire if they choose to spend the night!

Train crossing the Arroyo Hondo Beach
Glenn Beltz from Goleta, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visitors can access the beach, but be sure to bring appropriate and comfortable footwear because it’s a steep and tricky hike.

You can also see railroad remnants and old freeway trestles on this path to and from the beach area.

Once you reach the beach, you’ll spot a long stretch of rock formations ​​(caused by the uplift and ground deformation that occurred over a few million years ago), some small coves, and rocky ledges.

These rock formations create a natural oceanic wonderland that you’re sure to remember!

Go Sunbathing at Goleta Beach Park Near Santa Barbara County

Goleta Beach Park is a county-run facility of Santa Barbara that features a long sandy beach, walking and biking trails, a fishing pier, a grass park, and even a volleyball court.

Grab your beach towel and lay it out onto the white sand to get that tan you’ve always wanted!

The paved bike path on this park runs all the way to Santa Barbara and beyond, making this trail a great spot to begin a ride.

The fishing pier extends to around 1,500 feet, where you can take a long walk and back, with a breathtaking view of the mountains on the adjacent side, or simply go fishing to relax.

Numerous boating and water activities are also available, such as kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and more.

The warm, sunny weather on this beach park makes this outdoor area perfect for picnics and indoor lunch in the Beachside Bar Cafe.

Goleta Beach is said to be one of the busiest beaches in the country, making this destination a must-see for tourists and visitors!

Admire Monarch Butterflies at Goleta Butterfly Grove

Over thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate to Goleta from November to February and gather in congregations at the Goleta Butterfly Grove.

This protected grove is open sunrise to sunset; however, it’s best to visit during mid-day when the butterflies are flying overhead.

If you’re not the biggest fan of butterflies, you can take a trek around Ellwood Mesa, the adjacent preserve to the grove.

This open space contains a natural terrain surrounded by tall trees, with designated trails where visitors can walk.

There is also access to the beach in this preserve.

Here you can watch birds fly around or catch some whales when they breach the surface of the water.

Bring a sturdy pair of shoes and a set of binoculars when you visit this grove to make the most out of your trip!

Visit Rancho La Patera & Stow House at Goleta Valley Historical Society

Goleta Valley Historical Society is an organization dedicated to preserving the historical sites and other special establishments in Goleta City.

Only a short 5-minute drive from the city center, you can find Rancho La Patera & Stow House, a historic ranch and museum featuring the regional heritage of this city.

Visitors can go on a guided tour of Rancho La Patera & Stow House, where the tour guide will show you the gardens, the Visitor Interpretive Center, and the exhibits in the History Education Center.

The garden of this stow house is wide and spacious with a tinge of rustic charm, making it a lovely place to take some memorable pictures or a place where children can run around and explore.

This venue is open to the public except for when important events are taking place.

The local history in this historic home continues to attract visitors to this educational site because of the richness of the heritage here!

Learn about the History of Railroading at South Coast Railroad Museum

South Coast Railroad Museum at Goleta, California
Gcoombs at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This railroad museum is rich in information about the local history of railroading and the evolution of railway technology.

Home to the Goleta Depot, this establishment is a preserved 1901 Southern Pacific Railroad train station that has been converted into a museum.

South Coast Railroad Museum will tell you all about the important roles that this specific railroad played in the rural communities of America, making it great for both kids and adults.

You can also explore the historical grounds by yourself or join a guided tour, but the fun part is when you take a ride on the train to truly experience the thrill.

Having been added to the National Register of Historic Places, South Coast Railroad Museum is a tourist attraction you must visit in Goleta!

Get a Taste of Luxury at The Foley Food & Wine Society

Visitors of The Foley Food & Wine Society are treated to amazing wine selections and exceptional food to create a memorable experience!

They offer wine tours where they take you to the tasting room to sample the various wines they have, complete with very knowledgeable, detailed descriptions.

These tasting options also change monthly, so you get different wine selections that cater to every budget!

Members of the FFWS get exclusive access and perks to a free glass of wine, discounts on their products, and even invitations to future Foley events.

This hidden gem is located near The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort, so be sure to check it out for some world-class wine!

Go Bowling at Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond

Bowlero Corporation is the world leader in bowling entertainment and has acquired Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond to ensure one of the best bowling experiences in Goleta.

This bowling alley is also one of the many in California with 24 lanes, complete with an arcade and restaurant.

Zodo’s Bowling & Beyond is a fun-filled entertainment center where you can spend the day indoors to beat the heat while spending quality time with your family and friends.

They offer various events and promos as well, where guests can get deals and discounts for the same amenities.

If you get hungry, you can grab a meal at their restaurant or snack on some popcorn or chips while playing.

You can practice your bowling skills in this game center and get a strike!

Grab a Drink at Draughtsmen Aleworks

Specializing in beer, cider, wine, and tea, Draughtsmen Aleworks was established by five friends whose main goal is to bring people together through their beverages.

Over time, this brewery has expanded as they gathered more customers and visitors drawn in by their wide variety of beers, from Mexican and Japanese lagers to great stouts and porters.

They also host Trivia Night on Tuesdays, so be sure to attend if you retain stock knowledge!

Food trucks also roll in on certain evenings where you can grab a quick bite to go with your drink.

This brewery is the perfect place to relax with the laid-back atmosphere and occasional live entertainment.

Practice Your Golf Skills at Sandpiper Golf Club

Sandpiper Golf Club is one of the best golf courses in Santa Barbara County!

This waterfront 18-hole golf course is suitable for all skill levels with its 7,000 yards, where ​​you can practice your skills while enjoying the beautiful view of the ocean.

Since its operation in 1972, the course maintained its rolling fairways and vibrant green grounds, attracting players from all nations.

Tournaments such as The PGA Tour Tournament Players Series, The LPGA Tour Santa Barbara Women’s Open, and PGA Tour Qualifying are also held here due to its vast space, facilities, and amenities.

Accommodating both traditional and competitive golf, Sandpiper Golf Club is the golf course to visit if this is your favorite outdoor activity.

Purchase Local and Organic Produce at Fairview Gardens

Fairview Gardens is one of the most famous organic farms in California, as it is one of the few remaining farms that haven’t been lost to the urbanization of Goleta.

Thousands of tourists visit this farm regularly on Wednesdays and Saturdays to shop at the farm stand or to take a self-guided farm tour of the area.

You can join in various fun and educational events sponsored by the Center for Urban Agriculture, a non-profit organization that focuses on producing safe, organic, locally-grown foods sustainably.

Picnic tables have also been made available across the farm so you can eat the products you’ve bought or pack a nice lunch.

You can also support the local vendors by purchasing from their stand, so be sure to purchase their high-quality fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices!

Spend a Day at the Coronado Butterfly Preserve

Colorful signpost and map of the Coronado butterfly preserve.
Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com

Home to native habitat, eucalyptus groves, and other wildlife, Coronado Butterfly Preserve is another grove that houses migrating monarch butterflies.

There’s so much to see in this urban community treasure with the 9.3-acre space you can explore.

This site is an open, protected space established by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara in 1998 to preserve coastal resources and areas nearby.

Coronado Butterfly Preserve at present-day has become a thriving tourist attraction for native plants, wildlife, and learning.

You can hike up and down the trails where you can explore the woodlands and meadows and find various species of birds and wildlife that thrive here.

Or you can follow the paths that lead to nearby locations that are also worth seeing, such as Santa Barbara Shores County Park, the Devereux Slough, and the beach!

Open from sunrise to sunset, you can have a memorable and affordable experience in this lovely preserve!

Attend the Annual Goleta Lemon Festival at Girsh Park

Also known as the California Lemon Festival in Goleta, this festival is the biggest celebration of the Goleta coast that only gets better after each year.

This event occurs every September and is held at Girsh Park, an open park that sits in the heart of the city.

This festival is a weekend-long celebration featuring wonderful food, a fantastic family atmosphere, and many entertainment and activities.

They also include pie-eating contests, arts and crafts vendors, bake-offs, live music and have expanded to include the Goleta Fall Classic Car, Motorcycle, and Street Rod Show.

This event is safe for all ages as they include a petting zoo, amusement park rides, rock climbing, face painting, and so much more for everyone to enjoy!

Don’t miss the most anticipated festival in Goleta Valley!

Go Horseback Riding at Circle Bar B Guest Ranch & Stables

If you’re looking for adventure or a quiet little retreat, you’re in luck because Circle Bar B Guest Ranch & Stables has both!

This one-of-a-kind ranch is complete with all kinds of activities that make this a must-see tourist destination.

Spa services, fine homestyle dining, a large pool, and a jacuzzi are only a few of the amenities you can avail of!

Their highlight, however, is their scenic horseback riding, with tranquil surroundings that will be guided by the resort’s experts.

If you prefer something more relaxing, you can grab a nice book in their library, have some local wine from their bar, walk the coastal mountain paradise, or warm up in front of their fireplace!

This relaxing and luxurious establishment is the premier ranch in California that will leave you feeling refreshed.

Ice Skate at Ice in Paradise

Ice in Paradise is a skate park that houses ice skating activities and other recreational activities that the youth (or young at heart) can enjoy!

The non-profit organization that owns and operates this ice skating rink aims to provide its visitors a fun-filled day indoors after they soak up the Californian sun!

This rink has been a top source of fun and entertainment for the community since its establishment and continues to attract visitors and community members.

First-time skaters may also attend ice skating classes that are guided by qualified skating instructors for freestyle purposes.

They also have the option to attend youth hockey classes where they’re taught the basics and fundamental skills needed in this sport.

Make sure to wear warm clothing when you visit this ice skating rink!

Eat with a Good Cause at Kyle’s Kitchen

This local, family-owned restaurant was inspired by a little boy with special needs named Kyle, who loved burgers and meeting new people!

After receiving awards for its outstanding mission and vision, this restaurant has garnered more attention from tourists and locals, who love indulging in a hearty meal in this restaurant.

Kyle’s Kitchen is a socially responsible business that gives back by donating a portion of its proceeds to organizations dedicated to helping children with special needs.

Their menu is a balance of healthy and delicious, so you can eat to your heart’s content!

By eating at Kyle's Kitchen, you can help this business’s mission to support people with special needs and their families.

Final Thoughts

Epic days filled with fun and enjoyment await you in this beach town, complete with views and opportunities.

From watching monarch butterflies fly overhead, getting that tan you’ve always wanted to dining at exquisite restaurants, Goleta, California, has it all!

The list of things to do in this coastal area is endless, with outstanding natural scenes, tasty food, beautiful parks — all with a mix of luxury!

Don’t forget to pack all your necessary gear for your trip to one of the most exciting cities in California!