When it comes to packing up the family and heading to the California coast, Goleta makes an excellent next stop. The affordable, friendly, activity-filled destination has plenty to keep people of all ages happy and having plenty of fun. To help ensure that you do, we’ve put together a few ideas of activities the fam won’t want to miss during their visit!
Start with a stop by the South Coast Railroad Museum. As the name suggests, this fun spot brings the history of railroading to life. The centerpiece is a county railroad stationhouse built in 1901. The authentic elements don’t stop there. Caboose No. 4023 has been a museum staple since 1986, and is always open during museum hours. Kiddos will love hopping on the miniature train for a ride through the grounds, and the handcar gives a real life lesson in how railroaders did things back in the day.
After a visit to the museum, take the family for a walk around beautiful Lake Los Carneros. This special fresh water enclave is great for bird watching or feeding the ducks and offers an easily doable mile-long walk around the lake.
For those looking for a full- (or half-) day at the beach, Goleta Beach Park is an excellent place to set up camp for a good long stint. The nice long fishing pier is a fun place for kids to watch people cast a line. Plenty of picnic tables and BBQ grills are available for easy food prep and onsite picnics.
Or, if you prefer to head to a restaurant nearby, the Beachside Bar Café is conveniently located and serves up plenty of fun, fresh coastal dishes. Other activities include bird watching, biking, swimming, and volleyball.
And of course, a visit to the Goleta Butterfly Grove will not disappoint. The Ellwood Mesa Open Space is home to several species of wildlife, most notably the Monarch butterfly. Starting in October, thousands of these beautiful creatures make their home in the eucalyptus groves along the Mesa, offering a perfect vantage point unlike any other. For some additional information on this incredible migration, docents are available mid-November through mid-February on Saturdays and Sundays between 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
If you want to extend the fun into a second day—or you simply want to infuse the trip with a truly unique experience—consider a visit to Ice in Paradise! That’s right, ice-skating on California’s sunny coastal shores is possible. This indoor ice-skating rink offers public skating throughout the day and week.