There’s no better way to spend time at the beach, especially when you experience sand-filled fun with your furry friend. Southern California is blessed with a beautiful coastline, and Santa Barbara’s collection of beaches is among the finest. Santa Barbara dog beaches are well-known for their beautiful white sand and clear blue water.
They range from secluded hidden gems like Thousand Steps Beach to tourist magnets like Goleta Beach Park. Some allow dogs to frolic off-leash, and a few spots even have pet-friendly amenities like dedicated washing stations.
If you’re a local or just visiting, keep reading to discover eight of the best Santa Barbara dog beaches where you and your four-legged buddies can have a day of adventure.
Before you scroll further down this guide, check out these other dog-related articles: Do Labradoodles Like To Swim? and Can Cavapoos Swim?.
1. Butterfly Beach
Butterfly Beach is a favorite of local dog owners, thanks to its pristine sands and stunning views of the Channel Islands.
This location is near Montecito, a charming town full of independent stores and restaurants, and not far from the crowded East Beach.
Since Butterfly is a popular destination, parking along Montecito’s Channel Drive may be a challenge.
You will need to leash your pup at Butterfly, which may be for the best since this beach lacks lifeguards. If you’d prefer to let them run free, head along the coastline to Shoreline Park.
Active-minded dog owners may want to bring along a bike, as the 4.5-mile Cabrillo Bike Path runs through Butterfly Beach to Leadbetter Beach.
Even gentle walks are delightful since the area surrounding Butterfly is filled with stunning homes and beautiful landscaping.
Food and drink options are plentiful at Coast Village Road, only five minutes from the beach.
2. Summerland Beach
Summerland Beach is one of the quietest options on this list. It’s situated below Lookout Park, which sits atop a bluff, giving visitors spectacular views of the Channel Islands.
You’ll find plenty of beach standards at Summerland and the adjoining Lookout Park, like picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. However, shade is lacking at the beach, so consider bringing an umbrella if it’s sunny.
Free parking is available, and there are self-service dog washing machines at Lookout Park.
At Lookout, you’ll also have access to volleyball courts, BBQ grills, and hiking trails, among other attractions.
Waters here are shallower, making Summerland an ideal spot to splash about with your pooch.
Horseback riding is popular at the beach, so you’ll want to ensure your pup is under control at all times and is not easily spooked by large animals.
3. Santa Claus Beach
The charmingly-named Santa Claus Beach is on Highway 101. You won’t find snow or elves here, but the beautiful sand and wide open space are perfect for furball frolicking.
Santa Claus Beach is a must-visit if your pet is more of an aqua baby, as its pristine waters are ideal for puppy paddling. This beach gets decent surf, allowing owners to hit the waves or boogie-boarding with furry friends.
The beach gets its name from the now-defunct Santa Claus Village, which built a much-deserved reputation for its festive celebrations in Carpinteria. As with most Santa Barbara beaches, Santa Claus requires pups to be well-leashed.
Santa Claus Beach historically kept a low profile, but it has seen its profile rise. While crowds are still limited, expect the free street parking to fill up quickly come summertime.
4. Arroyo Burro Beach Park
Known to locals as Hendry’s Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach Park sits beneath tall bluffs, which lead visitors to several scenic hotspots, including Douglas Family Preserve.
The sand here stretches along a winding coastline, while there’s a grassy section ideal for picnicking. There are restrooms, and trash cans can be found at the beach entrance.
This dog-friendly Santa Barbara beach has a designated off-leash area for pooches.
It’s marked and is the only part of the beach where four-legged visitors can frolic unleashed. Otherwise, the beach requires owners to leash their pets at all times.
Arroyo Burro has ample walking opportunities, both leashed and unleashed, though rising tides can cut walks short. Lifeguards are only deployed during summertime.
Arroyo Burro gets a lot of foot traffic thanks to its dog-friendly reputation and picturesque scenery. Unsurprisingly, parking is challenging during the summer, but the beach isn’t as crowded as nearby alternatives.
In 2021, the County Parks Division finished a series of improvements to Arroyo Burro. These included ADA-compliant pathways and improved seating in an area reserved for dog washing.
This pet washing station operates on a self-serve system and requires a fee to use the machines. These handy machines will rinse, shampoo, and dry your pooch!
5. Thousand Steps Beach
One of the few beaches with an off-leash area, Thousand Steps Beach is well-regarded for its gentle waters and relaxed atmosphere. The beach is a veritable secret spot, hidden away by cliffs at Santa Cruz Boulevard.
Thankfully, the name is misleading, as you’ll only have to descend about 157 steps to get to the sand.
The weather-worn steps aren’t in the best condition, and the beach is very rocky, so consider having your pooch wear booties as a precaution.
Dogs are permitted to stroll off-leash at specific points from the beach staircase. This charming beach is great for tide pool exploration, while sunset walks here make for a memorable experience.
Reflecting its low profile, Thousand Steps Beach lacks on-site parking, meaning you’ll need to use street space.
6. Goleta Beach Park
Goleta Beach Park, within walking distance of the University of California Santa Barbara campus, requires dog owners to keep their pets leashed.
Besides its gorgeous wide sands, Goleta features a sprawling 29-acre green space and a 1500 feet fishing pier.
The pier is popular with anglers, so you’ll also want to be cautious when walking it with your pooch.
Waters are usually warmer at Goleta, with conditions well-suited for paddleboarding, boating, and kayaking, either from the beach or pier.
If you’d prefer to keep exploring on land, take your furry friend to Goleta Beach County Park.
Several biking and hiking trails snake through the greenspace, while there are also BBQ grills and volleyball courts – perfect if your pet is patient enough to let you play! In addition, there is a playground and horseshoes for the little ones.
With plenty of public facilities and an excellent location, Goleta is one of the most popular beaches in Santa Barbara. So, expect crowds and make sure you arrive early enough to secure a parking spot.
7. Miramar Beach
Miramar Beach is on the austere side when it comes to facilities. However, provided you come prepared, Miramar is an excellent spot for beachcombing, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
As with many dog-friendly beaches, Miramar requires pups to be leashed. Still, this area is a fantastic destination for long dog walks. Head west, and you’ll eventually reach Butterfly and Hammond beaches.
An easterly route will give your pup a treat in the form of Shark’s Cove and Fernald Point Beach.
This spot is perhaps most famous for the charming Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, formerly known as the Miramar By The Sea Hotel.
With beachfront access, the five-star Rosewood pulls out all the stops for your furry friend with a pet menu and delightful treats.
8. West Ellwood Beach
This Santa Barbara dog beach at Goleta has the feel of an unspoiled paradise, thanks in part to its relatively remote location.
While that means fewer people, it does make getting here something of a trek on foot. Moreover, you won’t find any public facilities, although on-site parking exists.
As noted, the beach is typically uncrowded, while the waters are ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding – and, of course, puppy paddling!
However, like many Santa Barbara beaches, you must keep your pooch secured with a leash during your visit.
Of particular concern about West Elwood is the prevalence of glass, so consider bringing along some dog booties and always be vigilant.
Nearby, you’ll find the Goleta Butterfly Preserve and the sprawling Santa Barbara Shores Park.
Santa Barbara is as dog-friendly as places come, but keep reading if you want to know even more about its canine beach scene.
Do Santa Barbara beaches allow dogs?
Yes, several Santa Barbara beaches permit dogs. However, most enforce strict rules about leashing, except for Arroyo Burro Beach Park. In addition, some cities like Carpinteria prohibit dogs on specific beaches.
Where can I take my dog in Santa Barbara?
Besides dog-friendly beaches, your four-legged friends can enjoy peaceful walks along the historic Stearns Wharf, explore the hustle and bustle of Downtown, or connect with nature at the idyllic 78-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
Are dogs allowed on Butterfly Beach Santa Barbara?
Yes, Butterfly Beach allows dogs so long as they are always leashed. However, the beach lacks public facilities, including dog washing stations and restrooms.
Is Miramar beach Santa Barbara dog-friendly?
Absolutely! Miramar has a beachfront hotel offering dog-friendly accommodations. The beach does require dogs to be leashed, so follow regulations to ensure your visit is event-free.
Can I take my dog to Santa Barbara beach?
So long as you follow beach rules, you should have no issues exploring the Santa Barbara coast with your pup.
For off-leash fun, head to Arroyo Burro. West Ellwood and Miramar are excellent options if you prefer your beaches to be relatively unspoiled and free of crowds.
Where Are the Best Santa Barbara Dog Beaches?
The best Santa Barbara dog beaches should offer a little for every four-legged companion, big or small.
This list of eight beaches will give your pooch plenty of opportunities to run, swim, and play in the sand. However, it’s important to note that only a few beaches in Santa Barbara allow dogs to be off-leash.
Take your buddy to Summerland Beach or the hidden gem Thousand Steps Beach for a quiet walk. To get the most out of your sand and surf-filled doggy adventure, head to Arroyo Burro or Goleta Beach Park.
Santa Barbara offers ample variety and fun for your pooch. So, whether you want a slow walk along the coast or lots of puppy paddling, there’s a beach waiting for you and your furry friend.
If you find this guide, “Best Santa Barbara Dog Beaches,” informative and helpful, you can check out these other dog-related articles from our team:
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