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Goleta

Visit Santa Barbara’s neighboring coastal city known as “The Good Land”

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Though Goleta can’t claim the international renown of its glamorous neighbor Santa Barbara, savvy locals know that this community just up the coast along the American Riviera has its own distinct appeal. Home to the oceanfront University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and with a long stretch of unspoiled beach, Goleta brings together natural beauty, culture, and an enduring agricultural tradition.

One of the country’s leading public universities, UCSB is a scenic and easy campus to explore. From a meditative labyrinth overlooking the ocean to the acclaimed Art, Design & Architecture Museum, as well as a busy lineup of live performances, UCSB is filled with discoveries—even if your college days are long behind you.

An extensive network of bicycle trails connects the campus to the surrounding community, including Goleta Beach County Park, where you can slurp oysters, feast on fish tacos, and savor paella at the Beachside Bar Café. Take a walk along the park’s 1,500-foot fishing pier or get out on the water with a kayak or SUP rental from the Paddle Sport Center. With its beaches and nearby hiking, outdoor recreation is a big part of the Goleta lifestyle and you can stock up on footwear at Deckers Brand Showcase, the place to find the latest releases from UGGs and Teva.

Some of Goleta’s best ocean views are from the blufftop Sandpiper Golf Club, where several fairways run along the edge of the cliffs, while other holes offer glimpses of the Pacific in the distance. Looking at the course’s gorgeous setting, it’s hard to believe that this was all once a major oil production area.

Dubbed “The Good Land,” the Goleta Valley is a fertile farming region best known for citrus and avocados. Step back into Goleta’s agricultural past at Rancho La Patera and Stow House. Tour the 1872 ranch house and bask in the serenity of the restored Ida G. Stow Memorial Arboretum, a sanctuary for tropical and subtropical species, as well as a grove of 300 coast redwoods. Farming still plays a big role in the Goleta Valley and at Fairview Gardens you can visit a working organic farm and pick up just-harvested produce at a bountiful farmstand.

Goleta has its posher side too. Built in a classic Mediterranean style, the Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, west of town, overlooks the Pacific. Indulge with an ocean-inspired spirulina wrap at the spa and take in incomparable ocean views from Angel Oak, the resort’s steakhouse that boasts a wine cellar with 12,000 bottles. Speaking of wine, the hotel’s Foley Food & Wine Society Wine Tasting Room lets you discover some of the premium wines produced nearby in the Santa Barbara wine country.

Closer into town and just five minutes from the UCSB campus, The Kimpton Goodland is the epitome of California cool, with poolside yoga and surf-inspired rooms complete with record players for playing your purchases from VNYL, the hotel’s very own record shop.

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