Santa Barbara is my hometown so I know it well. Santa Barbara is also known for its great weather, beaches and the chance to see a celebrity. Most tourists who visit here only venture into the downtown area and the wharf/harbor/beach area.
There are many other places and sites to visit that are off the beaten path and I will tell you about one of them today.
Arroyo Burro County Park and Hendry's Beach is one of those places that the locals want to keep a secret. There is plenty of free parking within walking distance to the beach. If you have a dog this is a great place to bring him or her because half the beach is designated as an "off leash" area. You can imagine more than 100 dogs running loose on the beach having a great time in surf and chasing balls and other dogs.
The beach is lined with cliffs that can come right down to the water during high tide. During low tide many rocks are exposed lending itself to some tide pooling. Kids love to do this.
Plan your visit in the afternoon and bring a picnic and a bottle of wine for a relaxing time watching the sun set over the water in the winter or over the bluffs in the summer.
If you don't want to picnic then you must plan to have dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant sitting right there next to the sandy beach. Sit at the bar that looks out over the ocean with a martini or glass of wine and watch for dolphins swimming by. On a clear day you will be able to see Santa Cruz Island which is part of the Channel Islands National Park.