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.