Family vacations are all about making memories that will last a lifetime. In Goleta, that’s easy to do. Our fair city serves up a plethora of family-friendly activities that can be enjoyed by young children, parents, teenagers, and grandparents alike, making it an ideal location for intergenerational travel. Here are some of the marquee experiences you can plan as a part of your big family outing this year.
Plot Your Own Farm-to-Table Experience at Camino Real Center Farmers Market (Sundays)
Goleta's farmer's markets offer farm-to-table dining for visitors and locals alike.
Eating healthy, fresh and nutritious meals can sometimes be tough when you’re on vacation—and many families end up dining at one restaurant after another while they’re on the road (in Goleta, with all of its awesome dining options, we certainly couldn’t blame them).
Some people like to cook when they’re traveling—or to have fresh, healthy snacks and produce on hand as they explore a new place. Thanks to the Camino Real Farmers Market, held every Sunday throughout the year, you and your loved ones can find all of the fresh produce and other foodstuffs you could ever hope for, cultivated by local agriculturalists who raise up their crops with the utmost care.
Outside of the farmer’s market, the Camino Real Marketplace is a fantastic stop during your travel journey in general. Restaurants abound nearby, as well as a number of other amenities and a movie theatre just in case you’re hoping to catch a fun-for-the-whole-family flick while you’re out.
Go Global in Goleta With the World of Pinot Noir (March 6 – 7)
Held at the gorgeous and sprawling Ritz-Carlton Bacara, World of Pinot Noir is perfect for those parents and other family members looking to step away from all the hubbub of corralling their families from one locale to the next so they taste wines from around the world and enjoy some adults-only socializing.
This annual event will introduce you to world-class wines, talks from celebrated vintners, and plenty of time to chat with other adults while the rest of your family explores the expansive beachside grounds of one of the most photogenic resorts in California. Everyone wins!
Explore California’s Rich Past During Old Spanish Times At Fiesta Ranchera (June 21)
The Stow House—a historical site evocative of the region's storied past—serves as the primary staging ground for Fiesta Ranchera at Old Spanish Times, an exciting annual event.
Every summer in Goleta, the magic of the old world comes rushing back onto the California Coast to reintroduce Goleta’s denizens to a time of fiestas, food, and all the romance of a bygone era in the form of Old Spanish Times held at the Rancho La Patera Stow House.
This event is part fiesta and part history, introducing visitors to Goleta’s storied past in the form of song, dance, food and fun inspired by treasured days of yore as beautifully framed by the historical Stow House.
While you’re here, you can enjoy the historic facilities and learn about the unique personalities who helped to establish Goleta as a cultural and economic hub in California—and throughout the nation.
Goleta Lemon Festival (September 12–13)
The Goleta Lemon festival brings visitors from all around the world together with vendors and lemong enthusiasts alike to explore flavors made from one of Goleta's most important local exports.
There’s an old saying about life giving you lemons and making lemonade out of it. In Goleta, we take that phrase very seriously—and throw a whole festival about the myriad ways you can use lemons to make all sorts of things.
The Goleta Lemon Festival is a celebrated regional classic that brings vendors out from all over the city to showcase their lemon-inspired creations, including lemon-infused beers, delicious desserts, fresh-squeezed lemonade and so much more.
While you sip down sweet and sour sensations, your family will be dazzled by live music on the main stage, classic cars, educational activities and fairground-style amusements that will be sure to turn any sour face into a big smile.
Throw On Your Dancing Shoes and Get Ready For Goleta’s Old Time Fiddler’s Festival (October 11)
Whether you’re an ol’ time fiddler yourself or somebody who simply enjoys the lively spirit evoked by fancy fiddlin’, this festival (which brings competitive fiddlers from around the world both in the professional and amateur circuits) will be an occasion to remember.
Get ready to grab a partner and “Dosey Doe” to classical fiddling and modern bluegrass at the classical Stow House (which, you may have noticed, is home to all kinds of fun events through the year).
A free concert will be offered for those who want to watch, and, if you’ve done a little fiddling yourself in your lifetime—good news! There are slots for you to participate in all the fun not only as a down-home reveler, but also as a performer. How cool is that?
Ice in Paradise Holiday Show—and Ice Skating
Looking to offer your family an extra cool treat during their Christmas vacation? What could be cooler than spending your time at a skating rink?
Ice In Paradise, a local skating rink, puts on its annual spectacular, featuring skaters of all ages and skill levels as they perform to festive music to conjure up the joyful spirit of the seasons with lights, music, dance and a whole lot of hype.
If you’re feeling inspired after the show, consider visiting Ice In Paradise for a fitting, then skate circles around the ring and enjoy this iconic winter experience with the whole family. Public skating is available daily on a varying schedule, which you can check here.
Soak Up The Sun at Goleta’s Beaches
It's easy to soak up the perfect family beach vacation in Goleta, where options for shoreside excursions are bountiful.
Goleta has a lot of awesome beaches, and all of them are great for living out that family beach day fantasy.
Whether you want to toss the frisbee around with the kids, catch up on your tan, get out for a swim or enjoy a family picnic, your options are wide open along the Pacific Ocean’s friendly shores. Some of your options include Refugio State Beach, Haskell’s Beach, El Capitan, and the famed UCSB favorite, Campus Point. Each offers a fairly unique experience different from the others, and you’re encouraged to explore as many as you can while you’re in town. Just don’t forget your sun screen!
Trains have played a highly important role in the development of the American economy, as well as in the formation of Goleta itself. Plus, they’re just really cool, signaling the ushering in of an industrial age that has carried Americans from one coast to the next, brought innovations all across the country, and captured the imaginations of millions.
The Historic South Coast Railroad Museum catalogs the history of the locomotive and its impacts, showcasing historical information and artifacts that reveal the impacts of this revolutionary technology not only on Goleta’s local culture but also on American life as a whole. It’s definitely an eye-opening experience for history buffs and generally curious minds alike.
Goleta is a beachside paradise with so many opportunities for outdoor activity that you’d need to make a couple of trips to experience them all (and, personally, we think that you should). The following lists touch on a couple of events and experiences that really stand out, but you’ll want to check out our beaches & parks and outdoor recreation listings to explore them all.
Goleta Beach Triathlon, Aquabike, Duathlon – Goleta, CA 2020 (July 26)
Goleta's outdoor offerings, like the stunning Goleta Beach Park, are a must-see for any California traveler.
For some, there’s more to vacation than relaxation. Some people really want to break a sweat in unfamiliar territory. If that’s you, then the Goleta Beach Triathlon may be just what you’re looking for.
This challenging athletic event, held at Goleta Beach Park, features a number of exhilarating events that will have you swimming for up to a mile, cycling across the region, running, and generally pushing yourself to your physical limits in competition with a number of other would-be athletes going for bronze, silver and gold medals.
Whether you’re going for the big win or simply putting yourself to the test, you’ll take home a commemorative medal and T-shirt—not to mention bragging rights—for breaking a sweat in what is touted as the best triathlon venue on the California Coast. Are you up to the challenge?
Rub Elbows on the Putting Green at Sandpiper Golf Course’s Charity Celebrity Golf Tournament (August 9)
The Sandpiper Golf club is one of Goleta's landmark golf establishments and will serve as home to the upcoming Celebrity Golf Tournament in 2020.
Come together with locals, celebrities and more as they come together to kick off the first Safe Harbor Sanctuary Celebrity Golf Tournament.
This special event, held at the sprawling Sandpiper Golf Club, will call Hollywood stars, music icons, sports figures and more as they golf to raise money for an organization dedicated to bringing women and girls out of homelessness through a variety of support services.
In addition to celebrity appearances, attendees can enjoy a silent auction with fabulous prizes, an awards dinner, and a bevy of entertaining events overlooking the Pacific Ocean that will be sure to make this a most memorable affair.
Explore Goleta on Two Wheels During Velo Pro’s Regional Group Bike Ride
Group bike rides can provide visitors with a stunning tour of Goleta's scenic landscapes.
What’s better than exploring one of the most beautiful destinations in California on two wheels?
Exploring it with friends, new and old.
You can do just that by joining the cycling experts at Velo Pro Cyclery during their regular regional bikes rides, which allow you to experience much of Goleta as well as the Greater Santa Barbara area while enjoying the safety and sense of community that a group bike ride affords.
If you don’t have a bike on hand, a handful of vendors in the region offer bike rentals… and if you have your own saddle to ride but it needs a tune-up, the Velo Pro’s will be more than happy to help you as you cruise expansive loops of all difficulty levels.
Goleta, California is rich with outstanding outdoor hiking trails, biking paths and much more—perfect for leisurely, scenic strolls.
Beaches, parks, and paths—oh my!
One of the best parts of Goleta is that there is no shortage of outdoor excursions to enjoy. These include cycling paths (like the Obern, mentioned later) as well as hikes in the El Capitan Canyon, strolls through the Ellwood Bluffs (where you’ll find vibrant wildflowers and tall grasses swaying in the wind), Lake Los Carneros (a hidden gem resplendent with rare wildlife and an easy one-mile hike during which you can watch birds and feed friendly ducks), and Gaviota State Park, where you can catch a glimpse of the rushing Gaviota creek or make an ambitious hike up to Gaviota Peak.
Many of the hiking locations also double as campgrounds, surf spots and fishing holes, meaning that if you plan your trip wisely, you can get a day’s worth of adventure or more at a single location—not to mention a ton of breathtaking photos.
Every first Saturday of the month, treat yourself to a guided tour of one of Goleta’s most gorgeous natural offerings at Coal Oil Point Preserve’s Nature Center, which is a part of the California University System’s broader eco-sustainability program.
Guided by the wisdom of a trained tour leader, you can learn about the region’s vibrant and rare wildlife, like the Dune Spider, the Western Snowy Plover, and a number of protected birds designated as such by the Audobon Society.
The Coal Oil Point Preserve is an important stop for anyone interested in observing nature in a largely undisturbed state. It’s a wonderful place to feel deeply connected to nature in a time and place the predates the noisiness of the modern era—the perfect mental palate cleanser to help you start the decade off feeling clear-minded and inspired.
Don’t want to wait for the first Saturday? No problem. Private tours are also available by application on the Nature Center’s website.
Goleta's beaches offer the perfect conditions for surfing and other on-water sports.
Have you ever dreamed of catching a wave or boogying over ocean water? Do you think you have what it takes to conquer ocean waters with balance, endurance, strength and just a little poise? Simply curious about giving a new sporting activity a shot? Great news—you can do it in Goleta.
The Lovewater Surf School offers a variety of surfing lesson packages, including group classes of up to four. Each 1.5-hour lesson will take you through safety fundamentals, surfer etiquette and with a little bit of effort, you and your group should be paddling out and doing your best “Endless Summer” impression in no time.
Even better? Each lesson comes with the use of a surfboard and a wetsuit. All you’ll need to bring Goleta’s beautiful Campus Point Beach is your sunscreen, a towel, and plenty of enthusiasm. This isn’t something you’ll want to miss.
Plotted over the curse of a twenty-one-mile loop, the Obern Bike Path is the perfect place to enjoy an easy outdoor excursion rich with sweeping views of the beach.
Whether you’re going solo, or bringing a group, this route is an ideal jaunt for those seeking peace of mind at their own pace. Because of the sheer amount of wheel-and-foot traffic, this might not be the ideal scenario to bring your dog (although there are plenty of great places to do that in the area).
To start the journey, head down to Goleta Beach, where you can find easy parking as well as essentials like restrooms, water fountains, a snack bar and convenience vending close-at-hand (you’ll want to bring water, snacks, and sunscreen with you regardless of the length of your trek, as you’ll be under our ever-present California sunshine).The two-way trail is primarily built for cyclists (Tip: Bicycle Bob’s offers a premium bicycle rental program) but is friendly for runners and walkers, too. As you make your way through, you’ll find yourself on a tour through lemon groves, antiquated villages, parts of our neighboring cities and even the UC Santa Barbara’s Coastal Campus, giving you a great overview of Goleta’s coast before landing you right back at the beach—where you can reward yourself with refreshments at the Beachside Bar.
With so many options for adventure, exploration, education, and entertainment in Goleta, you’ll have no trouble at all making vacation memories—there are just so many to choose from! Why not get a head start on making your plans by booking your stay with us today?