Cities Near Santa Barbara

Cities Near Santa Barbara

• 5 popular towns to explore around Santa Barbara •

Santa Barbara - a beautiful place to live!

Santa Barbara - also known as the American Riviera - located on the central coast of California, is a desirable place to live and visit. Its mild climate, beautiful beaches, stunning Spanish architecture, and vibrant cultural scene are mostly contributing to Santa Barbara's popularity. If you are thinking of relocating to Santa Barbara, there are plenty of neighborhood options to choose from. Depending on your needs and lifestyle choices, some of the most frequently sought ones are Downtown, The Upper East, The Riviera, San Roque, Mission Canyon, and the Mesa. 

→ Read more about these neighborhoods in my article here, or watch my video about the Top 5 neighborhoods in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara - Surrounding Area

There are also a few other towns around Santa Barbara many people move to and consider to be good alternatives. Explore these surrounding areas, discover more of the Central Coast's charm, and learn what the main features and attractions of these communities are in this article. These are the twons we will take a closer look at:

  • Goleta
  • Summerland
  • Carpinteria
  • Solvang
  • Ojai

For a more in-depth look at each one of these cities, read more on my community pages, or watch my videos with neighborhood tours below.


Situated just west of Santa Barbara, Goleta offers a laid-back coastal atmosphere with beautiful beaches and scenic landscapes. It is home to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), which adds youthful energy to the city. Goleta also boasts the beautiful Coronado Butterfly Preserve, where thousands of Monarch butterflies gather during their annual migration.

What is it like to live in Goleta?

Living in Goleta offers a unique blend of a coastal lifestyle, a more suburban community, and proximity to natural beauty. Here are some aspects of living in Goleta:

Beach in Goleta

Coastal Living:

Goleta is situated along the coastline, providing residents with easy access to beautiful beaches. The area's mild Mediterranean climate allows for year-round outdoor activities such as surfing, paddle boarding, and beach volleyball. The local coastline is dotted with parks, trails, and bike paths, making it attractive for plenty of exercises like running, biking, and water sports.

Community Atmosphere:

Goleta has a community feel. It is home to a diverse population, including families, students, and young professionals. The city organizes various community events throughout the year, such as The Lemon Festival, farmer's markets, and outdoor concerts, fostering a sense of unity and connection among residents. Many of the streets are residential, with sidewalks and cul-de-sacs, which are inviting for neighborhood walks, scootering, and friendly interactions along the way.

Goleta Street View


Education in Goleta is provided by both the Goleta Union School District and the Santa Barbara Unified School District, ensuring students of all ages receive a high-quality education. Furthermore, the presence of the nearby University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) offers valuable advantages, including access to educational resources, cultural events, and enriching lectures.


Natural Beauty:

In addition to the beaches, Goleta is surrounded by picturesque landscapes and outdoor recreational areas. The nearby Santa Ynez Mountains offer hiking trails with stunning views, like Lizard's Mouth. The Goleta Butterfly Grove attracts thousands of Monarch butterflies during their migration, providing a unique natural spectacle. And Elwood's wide open space invites long walks along the bluffs.

Lizard's Mouth & The Butterfly Preserve

Amenities and Services:

Goleta offers residents access to many conveniences. The city has numerous shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants, and entertainment venues to meet various needs and preferences. A highlight is the Camino Real Marketplace, a well-liked shopping destination that combines national retailers, local shops, and dining establishments. There is also a nice collection of parks, such as Lake Los Carneros Park, Stow Grove Park, and Girsh Park, providing ample green spaces for outdoor activities and relaxation. Additionally, Goleta is home to the local airport, further enhancing travel accessibility for residents and visitors alike.

*Note: This might be a con for living in some areas in Goleta, as you can experience some airplane noise.  

Camino Real Marketplace

Employment Opportunities:

Goleta is home to a thriving business community, including technology, aerospace, and biotech companies. This provides residents with job opportunities within the city and reduces the need for long commutes.

Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital

Proximity to Santa Barbara:

Goleta is located just West of Santa Barbara, allowing residents to easily access the amenities, cultural events, and attractions of its neighbor. Santa Barbara's downtown area, with its vibrant shopping districts, museums, theaters, and historic sites, is only a short drive away.

Overall, living in Goleta offers a desirable coastal lifestyle, a strong sense of community, access to natural beauty, and convenient amenities, making it an appealing place to call home.

 Explore available homes in Goleta HERE


Summerland is a tranquil coastal village situated between Montecito and Carpinteria, offering residents stunning ocean views and a relaxed beachside atmosphere. With its quaint village charm, local shops, and access to outdoor activities, Summerland provides a serene coastal living experience.

What is it like to live in Summerland?

View over Summerland

Living in Summerland, California, offers a peaceful coastal lifestyle with a small-town atmosphere and scenic ocean views. Here are some aspects of living in Summerland:

Coastal Beauty:

Summerland is known for its breathtaking coastal beauty. The town is nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, offering residents stunning panoramic views and a California beach environment. Residents can enjoy the beauty of the coastline, indulge in beach activities, and take leisurely walks along the shore.

*Note: Summerland is situated right above Highway 101 running along the ocean. Some people might perceive this as a negative.

Quaint Village Atmosphere:

Summerland has a charming village atmosphere with a laid-back and relaxed vibe. The popular main street, Lillie Avenue, features locally owned unique shops with eclectic home accessories, antique stores, art galleries, and cafes. The small-town atmosphere fosters a close-knit community where residents often know each other and engage in friendly interactions.

Shopping at Porch, on Lillie Ave Summerland

Outdoor Recreation:

In addition to its beaches, Summerland provides access to outdoor recreational activities. The nearby hiking trails offer panoramic ocean views and opportunities for birdwatching. Loon Point Beach, located at the western end of Summerland, is a popular spot for tidepool exploration and horseback riding along the water. The area also boasts various parks and rolling hills with citrus and avocado orchards.

Hiking trail off Ortega Hill Rd

Proximity to Santa Barbara and Carpinteria:

Summerland is conveniently located between the cities of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, offering easy access to their amenities and attractions.

Community Involvement:

Summerland has an active and engaged community. Residents often participate in local events, and the Summerland Citizen's Association meetings. The Summerland School District also organizes events that bring families together.

View from Lookout Park, Summerland

Scenic Drives:

The area surrounding Summerland offers scenic drives and quick access to the vibrant lifestyle of Montecito. Residents can explore picturesque routes like the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 101), the countryside setting of State Route 192, and the San Marcos Pass Road (Highway 154), which showcase stunning views of the coastline and mountains

Living in Summerland provides a serene coastal lifestyle, a tight-knit community, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The town's natural beauty, small-town charm, and proximity to larger cities make it an appealing place to call home for those seeking the coastal living experience in a small package.

 Explore available homes in Summerland HERE


South of Santa Barbara lies Carpinteria, a charming coastal town known for its "World's Safest Beach".This pristine sandy beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Carpinteria also features the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, offering breathtaking ocean views and hiking trails. The town's Linden Avenue is lined with unique shops, antique stores, and local eateries.

What is it like to live in Carpinteria?

Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve

Living in Carpinteria offers a charming coastal experience with a small-town atmosphere. Here are some aspects of living in Carpinteria:

Coastal Lifestyle:

Carpinteria is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back coastal lifestyle. Residents can enjoy activities like swimming, sunbathing, surfing, and beach picnics year-round due to the area's pleasant climate. Carpinteria State Beach, the "World's Safest Beach," is a popular spot for families and beach enthusiasts.

"World's Safest Beach" in Carpinteria

Quaint Downtown:

Carpinteria's downtown area, located along Linden Avenue, exudes a small-town charm. The street is lined with unique shops, local eateries, antique stores, and art galleries. Residents can explore the boutique shops, dine at cozy restaurants, and attend local events such as the Carpinteria Farmers' Market.

Linden Ave, Carpinteria

Community Spirit:

Carpinteria has a strong sense of community, and residents often come together for various events and activities. The Carpinteria Valley Museum of History hosts exhibits and events that showcase the city's heritage, while the Carpinteria Arts Center promotes local artists through exhibitions and workshops. The city also organizes community events like the Carpinteria Valley Fourth of July Parade and Carpinteria Avocado Festival.

Outdoor Recreation:

In addition to its beaches, Carpinteria offers opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve provides scenic coastal trails, perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and enjoying panoramic ocean views. The Carpinteria Salt Marsh Nature Park is a designated wildlife sanctuary, allowing residents to explore diverse ecosystems and observe native bird species and seals birthing their babies.

Carpinteria Nature Preserve

Family-Friendly Environment:

Carpinteria is an ideal place for families due to its safe neighborhoods and good schools. The Carpinteria Unified School District serves the area, providing quality education options. The city also has several parks and recreational facilities, including Tar Pits Park and the Carpinteria Community Pool, which offer spaces for children to play and engage in outdoor activities.

Carpinteria Community Pool

Agriculture and Flower Industry:

Carpinteria is known for its agriculture and flower industry. The Carpinteria Valley is famous for its avocado orchards, citrus groves, orchid farms, and nurseries. Residents can enjoy fresh produce from local farmers' markets and explore the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History to learn about the region's agricultural heritage.

*Note: In recent years cannabis farms have increased in this area, leading to an ongoing debate about its impact on the community.

Proximity to Santa Barbara:

Carpinteria is located just South of Santa Barbara, allowing residents to easily access the amenities and cultural offerings of the larger city. Santa Barbara's downtown area, with its shopping districts, theaters, museums, and restaurants, is within a short drive from Carpinteria.

Living in Carpinteria offers a relaxed coastal lifestyle, a strong sense of community, and access to beautiful beaches and outdoor recreational areas. The town's small-town charm, family-friendly environment, and proximity to Santa Barbara make it an appealing place to live for those seeking a coastal community with a close-knit feel.

 Explore available homes in Carpinteria HERE


Approximately 30 miles Northwest of Santa Barbara, you'll find the enchanting Danish village of Solvang. This picturesque city exudes old-world charm with its windmills, half-timbered houses, and traditional Danish bakeries. Stroll through the streets, visit the Danish museums, and indulge in delicious pastries. Solvang is also surrounded by stunning vineyards and wineries, making it a great destination for wine enthusiasts.

What is it like to live in Solvang?

Solvang Street View

Living in Solvang offers a unique experience, with its charming architecture, small-town atmosphere, and scenic surroundings. Here are some aspects of living in Solvang:

Danish Heritage:

Solvang is renowned for its Danish-inspired architecture and rich Scandinavian heritage. The town's picturesque streets are lined with Tudor-style buildings, windmills, and Danish-looking storefronts. Residents can immerse themselves in the town's cultural heritage by visiting the Danish museums, exploring the exhibits at the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, or attending Danish festivals and events.

Quaint Small-Town Atmosphere:

Solvang has a small-town vibe that fosters a close-knit community feel. The town's compact size makes it easily walkable, and residents often frequent the local shops, boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants along Copenhagen Drive and Mission Drive. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere creates a sense of warmth and neighborliness.

Charming Solvang architecture

Wine Country:

Solvang is nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara County's wine country. The surrounding Santa Ynez Valley is home to numerous vineyards and wineries, making it a haven for wine enthusiasts. Residents can enjoy wine tastings, vineyard tours, and wine-related events throughout the year. The scenic beauty of the rolling hill countryside and vineyards contribute to the allure of living in Solvang.

Santa Ynez Vineyard

Outdoor Recreation:

Solvang's location offers easy access to outdoor recreational activities. The nearby Santa Ynez Mountains provide opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Residents can explore Los Padres National Forest and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Lake Cachuma, located a short drive away, is a popular spot for boating, fishing, camping, and picnicking.

Lake Cachuma Recreation Area & Camping Site

Cultural Events and Festivals:

Solvang hosts a variety of cultural events and festivals that celebrate its Danish heritage. The Danish Days Festival, held annually in September, showcases traditional Danish music, dancing, food, and crafts. Other events, such as the Julefest (Christmas Fest) and the Solvang Third Wednesday Wine & Beer Walks, provide additional opportunities for community engagement and celebration.

Solvang Street View 

Proximity to Santa Barbara and Central Coast:

Solvang's location allows for easy access to the amenities and attractions of Santa Barbara, which is approximately 30 miles away. Residents can explore Santa Barbara's vibrant downtown area, visit museums and art galleries, enjoy a wide range of dining options, and take advantage of the city's cultural offerings. Solvang also provides a convenient base for exploring other nearby Central Coast destinations, such as beach towns like Pismo Beach.

*Note: Solvang's inland location typically features a warmer, sometimes hot, climate and is lacking the lovely ocean breeze one experiences in Santa Barbara and the other coastal towns.

Living in Solvang offers a distinctive blend of Danish culture, a close-knit community, proximity to wine country, and access to outdoor activities. The town's scenic beauty, charming atmosphere, and cultural events make it an attractive place to live for those seeking a unique and vibrant Central Coast lifestyle.


Located Southeast of Santa Barbara, Ojai is a tranquil and artistic community nestled in a picturesque valley. Known for its spiritual retreats, healing centers, and serene atmosphere, Ojai has attracted artists, writers, and wellness enthusiasts for decades. The city is surrounded by beautiful hiking trails, citrus groves, and the Los Padres National Forest. The downtown area features boutiques, art galleries, and delightful restaurants.

What is it like to live in Ojai?

Living in Ojai, California, offers a unique experience characterized by its natural beauty, small-town charm, and laid-back lifestyle. Here are some aspects of what living in Ojai is like:

Scenic Surroundings:

Ojai is situated in a picturesque valley, surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains. The area is known for its stunning sunsets, abundant flora, and a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities like hiking, biking, and exploring the Los Padres National Forest.

Ojai Sunset

Small-Town Vibe:

Ojai has a tight-knit community and a friendly atmosphere. It's a small town with a population of around 8,000 residents, which fosters a sense of community and neighborliness. Locals often engage in community events, farmers' markets, and cultural festivals.

Artistic and Spiritual Hub:

Ojai has a rich artistic heritage, attracting painters, writers, musicians, and other creative individuals. The town has several art galleries, and theaters, and hosts various cultural events throughout the year. Additionally, Ojai is known as a spiritual destination, with a long-standing reputation for wellness retreats and alternative healing practices.

Ojai Valley Inn - Resort Hotel

Sustainable Living:

Ojai promotes a sustainable lifestyle with a focus on organic farming, local produce, and environmental consciousness. Many residents support the local food movement and participate in farmers' markets or community-supported agriculture programs.

Slow Pace of Life:

Ojai offers a slower pace of life compared to larger cities. People often appreciate the relaxed atmosphere and prioritize work-life balance. The town has a limited number of big-box stores and franchises, which contributes to a more intimate and local shopping experience.

Close-Knit Community:

Ojai residents tend to be engaged in community activities, volunteering, and supporting local businesses. The community often comes together for events like the Ojai Music Festival and the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament.

Serenity at Lake Casitas, Ojai

Proximity to Urban Centers:

Although Ojai has a small-town feel, it's still relatively close to larger cities like Santa Barbara. But also Ventura, Camarillo, and Thousand Oaks. This provides easy access to additional amenities, shopping centers, outlets, cultural events, and employment opportunities.


These cities near Santa Barbara offer diverse experiences, from coastal charm and Danish-inspired architecture to wine tasting and serene retreats. Each place has its unique character, making the Central Coast a captivating region to explore beyond Santa Barbara's boundaries.

Watch in-depth tours of some of these communities here:

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