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Dog friendly Santa Barbara: The best pet friendly activities in SoCal’s beach town

written by Paroma December 15, 2013

Dog friendly Santa Barbara: exploring Santa Barbara with your dog

Santa Barbara is this super chilled out, fun, clean beach town north of Los Angeles. This city is very dog friendly with several activities to keep your pooch busy! So here is a quick guide to dog friendly Santa Barbara filled with things to do with your dog that include dog friendly lodging in Santa Barbara, dog friendly Santa Barbara beaches and of course dog friendly restaurants. As a seasoned dog mom, who has been to many dog friendly destinations with our Tibetan Spaniel mix Babu, I hope this guide gives you plenty of ideas on how to plan your dog friendly getaway to Santa Barbara. If you are in Santa Barbara for only a short time, read this post on one day in Santa Barbara which is an excellent guide. If you are in So Cal, do visit nearby San Diego and use this guide on enjoying San Diego with kids for fun ideas!

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We drove to the warmer climes of Santa Barbara, 300 some miles south of San Francisco, during 2013’s Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The idea was to enjoy a vacation with “everyone” in the family, i.e. with the four-legged bundle of joy. The drive itself was uneventful, barring the time when we got horribly lost trying to locate that one Indian restaurant that was open near Santa Cruz on Thanksgiving day or when Babu decided that he’s had enough of the backseat and plopped himself right on my lap for the last one hour of the journey. By the time we reached our destination of dog friendly Santa Barbara, all three of us were figuratively (one of us literally as well) were dog-tired and somehow dragged ourselves to the hotel room. Dinner consisted of take-out from a Thai restaurant (one of those rare ones open Thanksgiving night, thank goodness!) since it did not have an outdoor seating (hotels usually do not allow you to leave your pet behind in the room unattended at any time).

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pet friendly Santa barbara, dog friendly beaches in Santa Barbara, dog friendly Santa Barbara

pet friendly Santa barbara, dog friendly beaches in Santa Barbara, dog friendly Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly things to do in Santa Barbara

Our three days in Santa Barbara were spent in engaging in all kinds of dog-centric activities, which was the whole point of the vacation anyway. It did require quite a bit of planning since there was driving involved. Thankfully, the weather, barring some rain on Black Friday, did not cast a cold blanket on our plans. Dog friendly Santa Barbara is a beautiful, clean beach-city with lots of amazing dog friendly beaches dotted along the Pacific shoreline (either off or on-leash). Add to that there are several dog parks (which we did not go to), The Botanical Gardens, wineries and other recreational spots where your canine companions are welcome. Downtown Santa Barbara is dog friendly for several stores (those which do not sell food items) plus the gorgeous weather (lower 70s (F) even in November) allowed for outdoor seating at restaurants. Overall, both Babu and us enjoyed our time there. We did not go to any of the wineries, although I did get a taste of some Central Valley Pinot before we left. Much like its northern (and more famous) brethren of Napa and Sonoma, Central Valley and Santa Barbara are also home to famous wineries due to the Mediterranean climate they enjoy. Our trip back to SF was equally uneventful, and much shorter, but a wee bit taxing on my lower limbs since Babu decided to travel the entire time perched on my lap.

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So here’s a list of places to stay, eat and have fun while you are in Santa Barbara with your dog. Don’t let some unhappy reviews fool you about Santa Barbara not being dog friendly enough! Although you cannot beat SF or Portland in that department, we did not have any reason to complain as Santa Barbara is definitely very dog friendly! One last disclaimer: the information below, with some personal inputs, has been jotted from different sources on the internet and is one of those things which was done quite a few weeks ago (read, 2013). I will try my best to credit the information to the rightful source/author with an earnest request to not bludgeon me with accusations of plagiarism due to the lack of one (such are the perils of the times we live in). This list is meant to share information on pet friendly Santa Barbara and to help other pet parents save precious time from Googling their life away  in exasperation before going to one more place with their fur baby.

Motel 6: a dog friendly lodging in Santa Barbara

Dog Friendly lodging in Santa Barbara

We stayed at Motel 6 (Corona del Mar) since we did not want to rake up an arm and leg in expenses and also because this chain of hotels is dog friendly and does not indulge in breed discrimination. Motel 6 is exactly what it is-a motel. So do not have your hopes too high (even at knee level) by any means. They skimp on some basic amenities such as the customary shampoo/lotion/conditioner bottles which you will find in most 2-3 stars hotels in USA and provide two sorry looking tiny soap bars, so please pack in some extra toiletries on your road trip. The one thing that really helped though was the fantastic location. All our morning walks were along the sea beach since the ocean was a stone’s throw from the motel. For more options and information on dog friendly hotels in Santa Barbara and things to do, see here and here.

Dog friendly beaches in Santa Barbara

We spent our time between the Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, Rincon Beach Park, Downtown, Boardwalk and the Marina in Santa Barbara, all of which welcome dogs. Dogs can scamper off leash in those two beach parks and are allowed on leash in several other places (see list below). Babu ran, barked, dug his sand hole and lay there and generally was a very happy camper on the off-leash beaches.

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List of dog friendly beaches in Santa Barbara

1) Goleta Beach County Park -5990 Sandspit Road Goleta
2) Arroyo Burro Beach County Park -2981 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara
3) Rincon Park and Beach -Bates Road, SB
4) Summerland Beach -Evans Avenue, Summerland

Dog parks in Santa Barbara (off leash)

1) Girsh Park Off-leash Dog Pilot Program -7050 Phelps Road Goleta
2) Douglas Family Preserve -Linda Street, SB

Other dog friendly places in Santa Barbara

1) Beach Walkway -Cabrillo Blvd, SB (Motel 6 is on Cabrillo Blvd)
2) Chase Palm Park -323 E. Cabrillo Boulevard, SB
3) Plaza Del Mar -129 Castillo Street SB
4) Shoreline Park -1200 Shoreline Drive SB
5) Toro Canyon County Park: 576 Toro Canyon Park Road
6) Tucker’s Grove Park-located at intersection of Turnpike and Cathedral Oaks Roads.
7) W.O.O.F Pac Park at Waller Park-Located in the flagship Waller Park in Santa Maria, W.O.O.F. is “Winners Of Off-leash Freedom.

Dog friendly spots in Santa Barbara

1) Tabano Hollow Neighborhood Open Space
Fenced lawn area with drinking trees, drinking fountain, and benches.
Hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM and from 3:00 PM to sunset
2) Patterson Neighborhood Open Space
Unfenced lawn area located at University Drive and Calle Aparejo.
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 10:00 AM

Dog friendly attractions

1) Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park -Painted Caves Road, Goleta
2) Santa Barbara Botanical Garden -1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara
3) Stearns Wharf -Cabrillo Blvd Santa Barbara (aka Boardwalk)

Dog Friendly Wineries and Vineyards in Santa Barbara

1) Municipal Winemakers -28 Anacapa Street Santa Barbara
2) Oreana Winery -205 Anacapa Street Santa Barbara
3) Stearns Wharf Vinters -217-G Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara

For more dog-friendly wineries around Santa Barbara, visit this excellent website and this one too.

a guide to dog friendly things to do in Santa Barbara

dog friendly Santa Barbara boardwalk

Dog friendly restaurants in Santa Barbara

We dined at places with outdoor seating (remember you cannot leave your pet unattended in the hotel room at any time plus there is something intrinsically disgusting if you want to have a ball in the town at night with your pet locked up miserably in the hotel room, an unknown strange place for him/her all by him/herself) and thankfully found quite a few places which allowed dogs in the patio area. Our favorite places in downtown (comprising of a stretch on a single street called State street actually) were: Tupelo junction function (for southern comfort food morning, noon or night), Brasil arts cafe (serving lipsmacking acai berry breakfast bowls and smoothies plus amazing Brazilian fare for lunch), Adama Vegan cafe and Bakery (they had a charming seating area) and Cadiz (Italian dinner). Lots of dog friendly restaurants to choose from in Santa Barbara!

dog friendly restaurants in Santa Barbara

dog friendly downtown Santa Barbara

As per California law, you are allowed to dine with your dog wherever outdoor dining is available in California restaurants. Here is a helpful list of some of the other dog friendly Santa Barbara restaurants that I found on the internet, as of writing this post in 2013. Do call and check if they are still around!

Crushcakes & Cafe -4945 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -4991 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria
Tony’s Italian Dinners and BBQ Ribs -699 Linden Ave, Carpinteria
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill -7127 Hollister Ave, Goleta
Fresco Cafe North -5940 Calle Real, Goleta
Hollister Brewing Company -6980 Market Place Drive, Goleta
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -5745 Calle Real, Goleta
The Natural Cafe -5892 Hollister Avenue, Goleta
Pierre Lafond Montecito Deli -516 San Ysidro Road, Montecito
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill -3851 State Street, Santa Barbara
Chipotle -723 State Street, Santa Barbara
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -3052 De La Vina, Santa Barbara
Crushcakes & Cafe -1315 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara
Dargan’s Irish Pub -18 E. Ortega Street, Santa Barbara
Emilio’s Restaurant -324 W Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara
Fresco Cafe -3987 State Street, #B, Santa Barbara
Intermezzo -813 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara
Java Station -4447 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara
Le Cafe Stella -3302 McCaw Avenue, Santa Barbara
Mesa Cafe -1972 Cliff Drive/H 225, Santa Barbara
Pascucci’s Restaurant -729 State Street, Santa Barbara
Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro -516 State Street, Santa Barbara
Pizza Mizza -140 S Hope Avenue, Suite 102A, Santa Barbara
Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro -3315 State Street, Santa Barbara
Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro -1324 State Street, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Shellfish Company -230 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -811 State Street, Santa Barbara
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -3052 De La Vina, Santa Barbara
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf -1209 Coast Village Road, Santa Barbara
The Natural Cafe -508 State Street, Santa Barbara
The Natural Cafe -361 Hitchcock Way, Santa Barbara
Tupelo Junction Cafe -1218 State Street, Santa Barbara
Vices & Spices -3558 State Street, Santa Barbara
The Summerland Beach Cafe -2294 Lillie Avenue, Summerland

dog friendly things to do in Santa Barbara

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what to do with your dog in downtown Santa Barbara


Additionally, these are some other pet friendly shopping centers and stores (dogs welcome on leash). Basically, they are allowed anywhere food items are not sold (i.e. a cute store selling British goodies was off limits for Babu. The kind British lady/shop owner offered to hold him in her lap while we looked around but I knew better and refrained)

Pet friendly Shopping Centers in Santa Barbara

La Cumbre Plaza -120 South Hope Avenue SB
State Street Shopping Area -100-700 State SB

Pet friendly Stores in Santa Barbara

Lemos Feed and Pet Supply -4945 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria
Lemos Feed and Pet Supply -320-A S Kellogg, Goleta
Anthropologie -1123 State Street, SB
Big 5 Sporting Goods -3935 State Street, SB
Big Dog Sportswear Store -6 E. Yanonali Street, SB
Coach -3825 State Street, SB
Coach Factory Store -808 State Street, SB
Healthy Pet -3018 State Street, SB
Lemos Feed and Pet Supply -330 E. Gutierrez Street, SB
Macy’s Paseo Nuevo -701 State Street, SB
Nordstrom -17 W Canon Perdido Street, SB
Office Max -219 E. Gutierrez Street,SB
Petco Pet Store – Santa Barbara – Central -3985 State St., SB
Petco Pet Store – Santa Barbara – East -19 South Milpas St., SB
The Gap -615 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara (+ the one on State Street)
The Territory Ahead -515 State Street, SB
The Territory Ahead Store -515 State Street, SB
Urban Outfitters -624 State Street, SB

dog friendly Santa Barbara

More helpful links on pet friendly resources in Santa Barbara




http://ourmesaneighborhood.com/friendsOfDP.html (most of the information on dog friendly beaches and parks were obtained from this site and www.santabarbaraca.gov). Please check the sites before your trip to be abreast with any change in policies.

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This is a seasoned traveling dog mom's guide to Pet Friendly Santa Barbara, the beach town in southern California, USA which is super dog friendly! Read about dog friendly beaches, restaurants and other fun activities to spend a weekend there with your best friend. Pin this to your California or USA board now! #santabarbara #dogfriendly #petfriendlyvacation #dogfriendlytravel #california #USA

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Lori Hilliard October 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm

You’ve obviously done your homework – the list of dog-friendly businesses, beaches, etc. is excellent. I find myself wanting to fly to Santa Barbara just to enjoy some shopping and dining time with my dog. I live in Pennsylvania, where there are very few dog-friendly venues. It’s a shame, because people in Pittsburgh LOVE their dogs!

Debra Bailey October 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm

SO many fun things to do and see! Our dogs’ favorite thing about vacations near the beach are the off-leash beaches where they can run and play with other pups in the sand and surf 🙂 Looks like you guys had a blast!

Michelle October 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Lots of great dog friendly information in this post! I love the beach photos too!

Shayla October 25, 2017 at 3:46 pm

My brother lives there! We may have to make a dog friendly adventure happen this upcoming year!

Lola The Rescued Cat October 25, 2017 at 9:54 pm

Wow! That is really an extensive list of dog friendly places! It must have taken a lot of time to research all of that. As always, I love your photos!

Tenacious Little Terrier October 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm

The beach looks like a great place to run or roll! Good thing you guys found food, I find that the hardest part of traveling with dogs. What did you think of Portland’s dog-friendliness?

Jana Rade October 25, 2017 at 11:49 pm

It looks very lovely. But I think it would be too hot for Cookie’s taste. Our guys always prefer snow to heat.

Beth October 25, 2017 at 11:50 pm

Santa Barbara is a beautiful place! I’m glad that it is so dog friendly!

Robin October 26, 2017 at 1:16 am

Santa Barbra looks like a gorgeous place to visit! They really do have a lot of dog-friendly places there. I wonder if they would be cat-friendly as well. It is great that so many places are allowing people to include their pets in the travel plans these days. Pets are part of the family!

Jodi Clock October 26, 2017 at 2:03 am

Recently was in CA. It amazes me how pro-pet friendly they are. Thank you for this!

Kamira Gayle October 26, 2017 at 11:17 am

Wow what a great in depth post. I pinned your post as well. I’ve driven up the California coast once before however never stopped by Santa Barbara. I’d always heard wonderful things about SB. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Beautiful photos.

Talent Hounds October 26, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Santa Barbara is so beautiful. Great photos as always and excellent tips and resources. Kilo and I love the beach.


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