Living in Southern California, we have access to dog-friendly places. We can enjoy exciting adventures with our dogs and go on short weekend getaways as well. Dog friendly Santa Barbara, CA is one of our favorite cities to visit. Santa Barbara offers many enjoyable activities and places that welcome dogs.
Typically, our travel to Santa Barbara, CA from Los Angeles takes around two hours plus depending on the traffic. It’s a good drive and makes an enjoyable dog friendly weekend trip. In this article, I’ll be sharing the 13 best dog-friendly activities we’ve enjoyed during our visits to Santa Barbara, whether it’s for a day trip or a weekend stay.
13 Dog Friendly Activities To Do In Santa Barbara, CA
1. Take A Stroll at Chase Palm Park
Whenever we visit Santa Barbara, California, our go-to first spot is Chase Palm Park (side of Cabrillo Boulevard). It’s a big park and a great place to take a walk after our long car ride. Definitely, the view of the beach and abundance of palm trees add to the enjoyment of our walk and creates the ideal atmosphere for our fun day in Santa Barbara.
What’s awesome, Chase Palm Park is conveniently situated across from Cabrillo Ball Park and Chromatic Gate, allowing us to explore all three attractions in one go.
Chase Palm Park
Address: 323 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA
2. Walk Around the Cabrillo Ball Park
We were told that Cabrillo Ball Park stands out as one of the most stunning ball fields. The beautiful view of palm trees and the Pacific Ocean enhances the picturesque setting of Cabrillo Ball Park.
This park serves multiple purposes, attracting softball players for games, walkers for a ⅓-mile walk, and fitness enthusiasts (there are 13 outdoor fitness equipment stations).
There is always a street parking spot at Cabrillo Ball Park. We typically park here before going on our 1/3-mile walk or heading to Chase Palm Park. Just a reminder to all dog parents to be always responsible; bring poop bags and please pick-up after your dogs.
At Cabrillo Ball Park you will find one of Santa Barbara’s most popular photo opportunities; the vibrant and colorful Chromatic Gate.
Cabrillo Ball Park
Address: 800 Calle Puerto Vallarta, Santa Barbara, CA
3. Take Photos at the Chromatic Gate
The Chromatic Gate is an iconic piece of public art installed in 1991 and designed by Herbert Bayer.
The 12.5 tons, 21 feet structure is composed of six colors – yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and blue. It is arranged in a way that creates a gateway resembling a rainbow, with each section slightly taller than the other.
The Chromatic Gate is a must-see and the perfect spot for capturing beautiful colorful photos when visiting Santa Barbara, CA.
Address: 721 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA
4. Must See the Iconic Stearns Wharf
A visit to Santa Barbara would be incomplete without exploring Stearns Wharf, the oldest operating pier in California. It was constructed in 1872 and bears the name of its builder, John P. Stearns.
Stearns Wharf is located at the cross-section of the end of downtown Santa Barbara State Street and Cabrillo Blvd. This iconic landmark stands as a gateway between West Beach and East Beach.
Stearns Wharf is a popular tourist destination, featuring many activities and sights while enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean.
There are 141 parking spaces available at Stearns Wharf free for the first 90 minutes. We typically just park at Cabrillo Blvd. and walk to the pier.
Address: 217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA
5. Stroll Downtown Santa Barbara
Downtown Santa Barbara’s main attraction is the State Street where you’ll see palm tree-lined sidewalks and admire the Spanish-inspired architecture. Many cafes and unique shops welcome dogs.
If you need more information about Santa Barbara, you can visit the State Street Visitor Center located at
120 State Street.
6. Admire the El Presidio Santa Barbara State Historic Park
We often make a stop for coffee, and our favorite is Handlebar Coffee Roast which offers cozy delicious brews. If you’re visiting Santa Barbara, Handlebar Coffee Roaster is a good place to get a cup of coffee.
Handlebar Coffee Roaster
Address: 128 E Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara
Conveniently located across from Handlebar Coffee Roast is the El Presidio Santa Barbara State Historic Park
This Santa Barbara historical site showcases the remains of a Spanish military fortress known as El Presidio. While the site offers daily tours of the preserved buildings, dogs are not allowed so we simply enjoy admiring the rich history and architectural beauty of the structure.
El Presidio Santa Barbara State Historic Park
Address: 123 E Canon Lost St, Santa Barbara, CA
7. Smell the Roses at Mission Rose Garden
The Mission Rose Garden is just a short drive from downtown Santa Barbara. The Mission Rose Garden is a stunning rose garden maintained by dedicated rose-lover volunteers.
Our favorite time to visit is during the months of late May or early June. The Mission Rose Garden is a picturesque view where so many special events are held here such as weddings and birthdays (reservation through the City is required).
Adjacent to the Rose Garden is the Mission Park, a spacious grassy area that is also a great spot for families and friends to gather, relax, and enjoy a picnic while taking in the stunning view of the historic Santa Barbara Old Mission and the delightful scents of the roses.
Mission Rose Garden
Address: 420 Plaza Rubio, Santa Barbara, CA
8. Visit the Grounds of The Old Mission Inn
Known as Queen of the Missions, the historic Santa Barbara Old Mission was founded by the Spanish Franciscans in 1786.
Dogs are only allowed in the outdoor areas of the Old Mission Inn but the charming ambiance itself is so worth it. Definitely, must take lots of photos of your dog (and with your dog) to capture the beauty of this historic destination.
Old Mission Inn
Address: 2201 Laguna St, Santa Barbara, CA
9. Explore Nature at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
A short distance from Old Mission Inn, about 2 miles, you’ll love the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. It’s a must-visit destination where you can enjoy quality nature time with your dog.
There are trails and winding pathways where you will discover native California plants and lovely views that will leave you in awe.
Some tips when visiting with your dog: Come early, as it gets hot plus the parking lot fills up quickly, specifically on the weekends. Also, be sure to bring lots of water.
A reservation is required when visiting Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. There’s an entrance fee for non-members but leashed dogs receive free admission to the garden.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Address: 1212 Mission Canyon Road Santa Barbara, CA
10. Chill Out at Dog Friendly Popular Beaches
Arroyo Burro Beach, also known as Hendry’s Beach, is an off-leash dog beach that is below the dog-friendly Douglas Family Preserve park.
A Reminder to All Dog Parents:
From the main parking lot, as you enter the beach, you will see a quite large sign about designated areas for dogs. By the not-dog-friendly Boathouse Restaurant which is on the right side, dogs are welcome but must be on a leash at all times. On the left side, however, dogs can wander freely without a leash, allowing them to happily enjoy the beach to the fullest.
PAWsome Self-Dog Wash Station
After a fun-filled day at the dog beach, you don’t have to worry about sand and wet dog smell in your car. Arroyo Burro Beach stands out as the only one we know of that offers a self-serve dog-washing station. This self-dog wash is an awesome amenity.
Other Dog-Friendly Beaches in Santa Barbara, CA
Summerland is a charming tiny coastal town in Santa Barbara County (between Montecito and Carpinteria).
The Summerland Beach is located right below the lovely Lookout Park; at the end of Evans Avenue. Your dog can be off-leash and there’s a coin-operated self-dog wash like the one at Arroyo Burro Beach. Few tourists know about this beach, so it is a tranquil and uncrowded beach.
Take the Summerland exit off Highway 101 – Lookout Park Rd Summerland, CA
Butterfly Beach derives its name from the Monarch butterflies that once occupied the area. This white sand pristine beach is just a 1-minute walk to the historic dog-friendly Four Season Resort The Biltmore of Santa Barbara (accepts fully trained dogs weighing 50 pounds or less)
Butterfly Beach is dog friendly but your dog must be on a leash. You can take a walk with your dog and admire the stunning views of the Channel Islands, Shoreline Park, and Stearns Wharf.
Address: 1233 Channel Dr #1101, Montecito, CA
11. Dine With Your Dog
Santa Barbara offers many dog friendly restaurants. Many have an outdoor patio or outdoor seating that welcomes dogs
We typically go to Montecito to dine; it is less congested. Two of our favorite dog-friendly restaurants are Lucky’s and Los Arroyos.
Address: 1279 Coast Village Rd, Montecito, CA
Los Arroyos (has a small parking lot)
Address: 1280 Coast Village Rd, Montecito, CA
12. Stay at Dog Friendly Hotel
There are many dog-friendly hotels in Santa Barbara; most of them have a limit of 50 lb. dogs.
Our favorite is the Kimpton Goodland now it is known as the Leta Hotel a Tapestry Collection by Hilton located at Goleta, CA (10-15 minutes from Santa Barbara).
You can read our post on 5 Things We Love About Dog Friendly The Leta Hotel by Hilton
The Leta Santa Barbara Goleta, Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Address: 5650 Calle Real, Goleta, CA 93117
Another popular dog friendly that accepts over 50 lb. dogs is Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort; just within walking distance from Chase Palm Park, Cabrillo Ball Park, and Chromatic Gate.
Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
Address: 633 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103
13. Visit Solvang, CA
Solvang (Danish for sunny field) is a city in Santa Barbara County, CA; about a 45-minute drive from Santa Barbara. Solvang is known as “The Danish Capital of America”.
You will enjoy strolling through the downtown streets of Solvang with your dog and admiring the city’s Danish-inspired charm. Make sure to snap some unforgettable photos with your dog with the iconic windmills of Solvang.
To wrap up these awesome lists, Santa Barbara is a dog-friendly travel destination that offers many activities and attractions for both you and your dog to enjoy, whether it’s for a day trip, weekend getaway, or longer vacation. From our experience, you and your dog will create lasting memories while visiting dog-friendly Santa Barbara, filled with fun and memorable moments.