Things to Do in Goleta
Activities You Can Do in Goleta CA
Just a few minutes’ drive from Santa Barbara lies the undiscovered gem of Goleta. First called “The Good Land” by the Spanish, Goleta was known for its rich farmland and there are still many small farms to be seen. Today it’s on the edge of Santa Barbara and is home to UCSB.
It may seem like a sleepy suburb with a bohemian surfing vibe but it’s a town with its own character. There are many historical monuments and things to see with incredible natural beauty and beaches. It’s also a center for modern gardening in Southern California. Let’s find out more!
To start you can make a visit nearby Lotusland, one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. The garden was the dream of Polish opera singer Madame Ganna Walska, who owned the property from 1941 until her death in 1984. The 37 acre estate is home to more than 3,000 types of plants from all around the world. There are 120 types of aloe alone! The collection contains some cycad which are extinct in the wild and an incredible cactus garden, palm, ferns, lotus, azaleas. Check what’s in bloom when you make your reservation; spring and summer will be best!
Need more? Try Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. There are over 5.5 miles of public trails and amazing scenery and 1,000 species of rare and indigenous plants. Most are in their natural habitat so it looks and feel more like a hike in nature! There is an extensive nursery shop so you can stock up on California’s botanical heritage afterwards. (1212 Mission Canyon Rd., Santa Barbara)
You can stroll more at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens (Santa Barbara St. at W. Arrellaga St.). It has wandering walkways, ponds stocked with turtles and koi,, gazebo, and inspired low-water plantings. A recent addition is a butterfly garden which includes host plants for butterflies and moths.
Speaking of butterflies, Goleta is famous for its colonies of Monarch butterflies. I can’t think many cities anywhere have a Butterfly Coordinator as an official City post! The famous Goleta Butterfly Grove is closed for a safety overhaul, but the city has established a new temporary site at Evergreen Park (7524 Padova Dr) from October through March so visitors can meet the butterflies up close. Or there is the Coronado Butterfly Preserve (495 Coronado Dr), a 9.3 acre preserve including creeks woodlands, meadows, and lots of trails. The preserve also acts as a hub for many of the other major local walking routes, including Goleta Monarch Grove, Ellwood Shores coastal bluffs, Santa Barbara Shores County Park, the Devereux Slough and the beach.
Feel Inspired with Famous Destinations in the Santa Barbara County
If you’re feeling inspired by all this nature, go shopping at the incredible Santa Barbara Orchid Estate (1250 Orchid Dr., sborchid.com). Established in 1957, it’s on the edge of town and it’s huge—five acres and thousands of varieties, grown to thrive locally.
Or perhaps check out the Terra Sol Garden Center (5320 Overpass Rd.), which specializes in agaves and succulents. They also do year-round classes in sustainable gardening
Over at 909 Carlo Dr is Knapp Nursery, a ground-breaking retail nursery and growing facility for annuals, perennials, cactus, and fruit trees. The owners, Sandy and Patrick Caswell, grow the vast majority of their own stock. The result is 5 acres of plants for all levels of gardener available at great prices.
Goleta Beach is a local paradise. There’s miles of beach, a 1500 foot fishing pier, courts for sand volleyball and places to rent kayaks or paddle boats. There’s walkways to the nearby peace of Goleta lagoon and paved bicycle path to Santa Barbara. There’s space for barbecues as well as restrooms and picnic tables. Need to be indoors? Well, escape to the Beachside Bar Café for lunch and dinner.
You’ll need refreshment after all that nature. For a drink check out Hollister Brewing Company (6980 Marketplace Dr.). Next to the mall it serves up sophisticated pub food and pints brewed on site. We recommend the Fairview Farmhouse Ale, a Belgian style beer named for the nearby Fairview Gardens
The eating options are huge! From the sea views of the upscale Angel Oak (8301 Hollister Avenue) or perhaps just a sandwich at the young and trendy Goodland kitchen (231 Magnolia Ave).