This is a place where idyllic, romantic, classic California is still very much alive. It’s the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, where you can shed the pie-in-the-sky expectations of modern life and get back down to earth, along the coast.
Pack your bags and toss them in the car, folks. We’re taking a road trip to spend two blissful days in Goleta.
Lake Los Carneros
Approachable, temperate and fairly relaxed year-round, Goleta is an oasis for Californians and more distant visitors alike. Open roads, paired with beautiful views as far as the eye can see make for an easy drive into the town; from there, the world is your oyster, thanks to a plethora of dining options, breweries and viticulture, historical sites and all the nature you could ask for in one place.
Add to that a lively event calendar and no shortage of cozy accommodations to unwind at, and you’ve got yourself a getaway for the books. Minus all the hassle of lengthy flights, airport commutes, traffic, congested tourist traps, or really any other inconvenience you could think of. Here, ease, relaxation, and joy for its own sake is the name of the game.
In Goleta, you’ll come for the gorgeous getaway, and stay for everything else. Breathtaking coastal views at beaches like El Capitan and Haskell’s Beach invite lengthy stares as you take in the endlessness of the Pacific Ocean, and who could deny the sense of scale as you stare toward the horizon from the height of Campus Point?
But beachside coastal views aren’t the only beauties to be admired in Goleta. In fact, it might surprise you to discover that the region’s golf courses are some of the most beautiful sites in the United States, with their endless rolling hills of green, perfectly framed by the roaring waves of the ocean. Sandpiper Golf Course will win your heart with its jaw-dropping design and sharp sense of height; Glen Annie Golf Club, with its own creek settled in the foothills of scenic Goleta, will grant you a special view of the Channel Islands from its perfectly manicured greens; and these are just two of them.
Beyond the beaches and the golf courses, you’ll want to make time for nature—and a good way to do that is to stop by the massive Ellwood Bluffs, whose swaying wildflowers make for the perfect photographic opportunity; or to visit Lake Los Carneros, which so differs from the coastal vibe of the rest of the city that it’s as if you’ve been transported—again!—to another world.
There are plenty of great places to stay at during a quick trip to Goleta, each retaining a certain uniqueness—paired with outstanding service—that is sure to provide visitors with incredible value.
For those looking to enjoy lodging with a bespoke, “Goleta-specific” feel, look no further than The Kimpton Goodland. This unique property will make for the perfect weekend headquarters, especially if you’re the sort who likes to end—or begin—an evening out with poolside cocktails, live musical entertainment and delicious coastal cuisine. It’s not just the poolside service that makes The Goodland special, of course. It’s also the eclectic decor, which leans on a variety of beloved Golden State tropes to elicit a cheery, vibrant state of mind.
Another stunning escape is The Ritz-Carlton Bacara. The property is home to three edgeless outdoor pools which overlook a peerless view of the California coast; a heated tennis court; and a classically opulent interior gives where visitors can enjoy beautifying treatments at the in-house salon or legendary, 42,000 sq. ft spa.
For families in search of cozy accommodations in a home-away-from-home type of setting, look no further than Pacifica Suites. The property features 87 suites complete with living rooms, workspaces, flat screen television and complimentary made-to-order breakfast delivery. Beyond the suites themselves, guests can explore lush gardens on the ground, access the business center for printing and other needs, and check out the historical Sexton House and its associated exhibit, sponsored by the Goleta Historical Society.
Where to Stay in Goleta, California
Delicious dining options abound throughout Goleta, especially for those partial to classic California cuisine or, of course, to delectable seafood.
The Goodland is home to two restaurants: The Outpost—which is treasured for its hearty weekend brunch—has a grab-and-go breakfast served daily as well as nightly dinner service; and The Good Bar, which serves flavor-packed bites alongside craft cocktails.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara’s various tasting rooms and restaurants present a variety of delectable dining options, including Bacara Bar where guests can enjoy sumptuous sips over shared charcuterie and flatbread plates, and Angel Oak, an excellent steakhouse serving prime cuts and seasonal vegetables from throughout the region.
While these are fabulous options, you might not want to spend all of your trip on lodging properties. In that case, Sushi Ai is brilliant for seafood (and even has vegetarian-friendly sushi options); Hollister Brewing Company is great to fill up on burgers; finally, Los Agaves is an undeniable must-try for Mexican cuisine.
Your time in Goleta might cause you to work up a mighty thirst. Should that be the case, you’re in luck—Goleta is home to a handful of craft breweries with locally made beers that are sure to spark joy in beer aficionados and casual sippers alike. For small-batch fans who want to collect rarities, Draughtsman Alehouse is an admirable choice; for bigger groups, consider M. Special—which is a neighborhood treasure thanks to its wide selection of beverages, live music, sports broadcasting, and generally friendly vibe.
For those looking for more of a traditional bar scene, Goleta has a selection of nightlife options including the upscale Mercury Lounge where you can enjoy beer and wine by the glass or carafe; the speakeasy-style Imperial Lounge, home to craft cocktails in old town Goleta; and, should you like to chase your adult beverages with those a killer California view, don’t miss the Rooftop Bistro & Bar on Hollister Avenue. These selections merely scratch the surface, so we encourage you to explore… responsibly.
Suffice it to say that there’s plenty to do in Goleta—so much that we can’t cover it all in a single post. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that beyond the breathtaking views, the delicious dining, the hearty brews, and the unique accommodations, our city has a number of cultural offerings you might like to make time for during your road trip. These, however, require a little bit more time and examination to truly appreciate, so it’s best if you plan a longer trip where you can build a day or so around exploring them.
This gorgeous Californian oasis is everything we’ve said it is and more—which is precisely why should plan your trip to Goleta today, and then make visiting a regular occurrence.