Hotel at a Glance: Best Western Plus South Coast Inn
Located just a 10-minute drive from the University of California, Santa Barbara, this hotel provides easy access to the oceanside campus as well as the area's acclaimed beaches (private Goleta Beach, for instance, is less than a mile away). The hotel provides complimentary shuttle service to and from Santa Barbara Airport and other local hotspots.
- In-room amenities: pillow-top Serta beds, microwaves, and mini fridges
- Raise a glass: Nearby wineries produce award-winning pinot noirs and zinfandels.
- Breakfast buffet: includes waffles, sausage, eggs, fresh fruit, and yogurt
- Heated pool: open year-round
- Pick a flick: from the hotel’s DVD collection and watch it on the flat-screen TV in your room
Goleta, California: Butterflies and Lemon Groves Minutes from Santa Barbara Beaches
The newly incorporated town of Goleta lies near the California coast, just 8 miles from Santa Barbara. Every October, tens of thousands of monarch butterflies flit through the area as part of their annual western migration. You can watch them at the Goleta Butterfly Grove, which contains 137 acres of designated trails and beaches. Another spot worth a visit is Rancho La Patera & Stow House. Dating back to 1871, this working ranch features 19th-century gardens, almond and lemon groves, and a historic museum.
With its sandy beaches and mild climate nearly all year long, nearby Santa Barbara is often called the “American Riviera.” Centrally located East Beach is a popular spot—it has a long shoreline with volleyball courts and snack bars. For more peace and quiet, head a few miles east to no-frills Butterfly Beach. It’s one of the only Santa Barbara beaches where you can see the sunset, since most of them face south.
Santa Barbara is a very bikeable city. Lots of paths take you alongside the water and through pretty residential neighborhoods. You might want to cruise along the Cabrillo bike path, which runs beside the Pacific for 3 miles, from Leadbetter Beach to Montecito. Along the way, stop at Stearns Wharf to check out the seafood restaurants and boutiques on California’s oldest working wharf, where fishermen can still be seen hauling in the day’s catch.