North America

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara has all the reasons we love California: mountains, beaches, vineyards, a cultured urban center with a strong running community… and great weather. Also known as the “American Riviera,” this coastal city just 2 hours north of Los Angeles, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of options for trail runs, beach runs, paved bike paths, and central routes through downtown and the UC Santa Barbara campus. Our guide to running in Santa Barbara features iconic routes skirting the coast of the Pacific ocean over grassy bluffs and sandy beaches, plus challenging trail runs in the canyons of the  Santa Ynez Mountains north of the city.

Our guide to running in Santa Barbara features several waterfront and beach-centric routes in downtown, and also to the north around the UC Santa Barbara Campus and the Goleta area, as well as to the south in Carpinteria. For hill lovers, we also include several trail running options in the canyons, featuring Gould Park, Rattlesnake Canyon, and Romero Canyon.

Santa Barbara is an easy city to navigate car-free (see santabarbaracarfree.com), though trail runners should know that some trailheads are significantly outside the city and are not accessible by public transportation. Otherwise, stick close to town and enjoy access to Santa Barbara’s historic sites, shopping centers, wineries, and of course — fish tacos.  Santa Barbara is incredibly environmentally friendly — they boast an all-electric bus fleet, and were the founders of the first Earth Day in 1970.

  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

Santa Barbara Waterfront Run

Santa Barbara, CA

The classic Santa Barbara run, through the most Instagram-worthy spots in the city: Andree Clark Bird Refuge, the Cabrillo bike path, Stearns Wharf Pier, and Butterfly Beach. Lots of options for variety - can add Harbor & Shoreline Dr. for extra 2+ miles.
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Nite Moves 5K Course

Santa Barbara, CA

The route of a popular 5k event in Santa Barbara, along a great section in a central location, highlighting Shoreline Park, and Leadbetter Beach, just north of the Harbor. Join Nite Moves on Wednesdays in summer if you're in town!
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Hendry’s Beach Loop

Santa Barbara, CA

For an iconic run along a long stretch of beach, look no further than Arroyo Burro Beach County Park — more commonly known as Hendry’s Beach. Feel like California’s Rocky Balboa while sprinting up the steep steps that connect the beach to the return path.
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UC Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA

Few college campuses rival UC Santa Barbara in beauty. Follow this loop around the paved lagoon path, with views of the university, and out to Del Playa Bluffs which cruises the cliffs lining the Pacific Ocean.
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More Mesa Loop

Santa Barbara, CA

Run through stands of scented eucalyptus trees in More Mesa Park, with gorgeous views of the volcanic Channel Islands on this nearly 3 mile loop of coastal Goleta. Beach is a good option, and for a longer run add the Obern Trail Bike Path.
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Ellwood Bluffs

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara’s next door neighbor Goleta offers stretches of hard-sand beach, scenic mesa trails, and a butterfly preserve where you can witness thousands of Monarchs wintering in the warm sun.
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Romero Canyon

Santa Barbara, CA

Lush groves of oaks and sycamores, valley views, and a series of climbs and drops in the mountains above the Summerland neighborhood. The trails can be spliced together for a killer 9+ mile run, but we’ve mapped a more manageable 5.5 mile loop.
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Santa Barbara Waterfront Run

Santa Barbara, CA

The classic Santa Barbara run, through the most Instagram-worthy spots in the city: Andree Clark Bird Refuge, the Cabrillo bike path, Stearns Wharf Pier, and Butterfly Beach. Lots of options for variety - can add Harbor & Shoreline Dr. for extra 2+ miles.
Explore

If you were choose a city with the best weather for running, Santa Barbara would be on the list. Winters are mild, with average highs in the 60s (18C) and cool nights. You’ll need a layer for night or early morning runs. Summers are warm but not hot, with average high temps around 75F (24C), and nights that cool down do around 60 (16C). It’s not particularly humid. Lioke many California coastal cities, rain is nearly nonexistent from May through October. There can be plentiful rain in the winter months, but there is quite a bit of variation by season.  Not also that temperatures can be warmer in the canyons, as you’re away from the coast.

One additional weather factor in Santa Barbara is fog. There can be foggy days, where it takes awhile to burn off.

A great resource for where to stay in Santa Barbara is visitsantabarbaraca.com. There’s a good selection of places to stay in Santa Barbara, from business type hotels and  boutique spots to inns and B&Bs. For easy access to the best running, try to stay inside the highway (Rt. 1/101), which will get you close to the Harbor and great coastal running routes.

The downtown area is quite large. If you’re staying mid-downtown, it’s 1-2 miles down to the water for running. There is decent running downtown, with wide streets and and wide sidewalks, laid out in a grid pattern and so easy to navigate.

Stores

Santa Barbara Running Company. The major indy running store in Santa Barbara. Family owned and operated. Two locations– one downtown, and the other in Galeta.  Group runs: Thursday 6pm from the Anacapa St. store.

Lorna Jane Santa Barbara. Downtown. Great store, focused on active lifestyle clothing for women.

Group Runs

Santa Barbara Running Company has group runs from their downtown store Thursdays 6pm.

Santa Barbara Running and Racing has extensive training, coaching, and group runs.

 

Great running calendar, maintained by the Santa Barbara Athletic Association.

Nite Moves. Famous community event, Summer Sunset series, Wednesdays 6:30 pm with festivities afterward. Run, walk, swim. 5k, or an ‘aqualthon’ series combining running and swimming.

Pier to Peak. The “world’s toughest half marathon”,  takes you from the famous Santa Barbara Friendship Dolphins Fountain at the edge of Stearns Wharf, past the “Queen of the Missions” and on up an elevation of 3996 feet to the Majestic views at La Cumbre Peak.

Thanksgiving Four Miler. Has been going for 21 years. In Goleta area.