How to Explore Goleta From Santa Barbara

Zack Garhart
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Looking for an easy day trip from Santa Barbara? Look no further than Goleta!

Here’s how to check out Goleta from Santa Barbara.

This quaint, neighboring town is filled with great beaches, local restaurants, and unique shops. We love the low-key nature of Goleta, and also its proximity to Isla Vista. In Isla Vista, you’ll find much of the University of Santa Barbara campus. Walking through Isla Vista, it’s hard not to feel relaxed. The many beach bungalows and surfboards that are strung from balconies only add to that sense of calm you can experience while walking through town.

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Getting to Goleta and Isla Vista

Getting to Goleta from Santa Barbara is easy. By car, it’s roughly ten minutes away. If you’re using public transportation, we suggest hopping the train or taking the bus. By train, the trip to Goleta from Santa Barbara is quick! One-way tickets on Amtrak are less than $10, too. This is the fastest way to get to Goleta without a car.

The bus might take longer, but it’s much cheaper! One-way tickets on the city bus are $1.75, so this is the most budget-friendly option. Both express buses and regular commuter buses go from Santa Barbara to Goleta, so you have options. Both the 11 and 12X buses are great choices for getting to Goleta. The 12X is an express bus. Both the 11 and 12X run down Hollister Avenue, where you’ll find shops, eateries, and other fun things to do.

Also, consider taking the 11 bus if you’re coming from the Santa Barbara airport. It’s the cheapest way to get from the airport to Santa Barbara!

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Exploring Goleta

Once you’re in Goleta, we suggest going straight to the beach! Cliffsides and enclaves dot the coastline where Goleta is located, making it a perfect place to hang out and read a book while you hear the sounds of the ocean slapping against the shore. Our favorite beach in town is Campus Point Beach. This is a great place to explore alone or on a date! If you’re into art, try your hand at drawing or painting some of the scenic views that Goleta has to offer.

Another great activity is checking out the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. This oasis is located just south of Hollister Avenue on the west side of Goleta. People love coming here to step away from the city and get lost in nature. The community has put a lot of effort into protecting this part of town and allowed it to thrive as a place to experience wildlife and learn about plants and nature.

If you’re into hiking, get on over to Gaviota Wind Caves Trail. This four-mile (round trip) hike is a great way to see the ocean and get in a workout. There are some cool caves to check out, too, on this trail. With easy access from Highway 101, Gaviota Wind Caves Trail is one of the best hikes in Goleta. Important to note: dogs are not allowed on the trail. Also, there is a slight increase in elevation. As always, bring water and pack snacks. 

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Eat, Eat, Eat

After hitting the beach or taking on a hike, trot into town for some grub. We like Cajun Kitchen Cafe. This local joint has a Santa Barbara location, as well. At Cajun Kitchen, you can grab some home-style cooking that is Cajun in theme. Try their Beignets, or their biscuits and gravy. Thank us later!

For different fares, we recommend places like Noodle City and The Natural Cafe. The authentic Vietnamese food at Noodle City makes it a must-try. At Natural Cafe, you’ll find more smoothies and salads, plus a great selection of sandwiches. 

While in Santa Barbara, take the day and get out to explore Goleta!

Here’s a video to help you see another side of Goleta.


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