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Cabrillo Beachway

In the late 1920s, the City of Santa Barbara set aside its many miles of waterfront for public use rather than private development. Because of that decision, today residents and visitors can enjoy a multitude of recreational options along the water’s edge, including an excursion along the two-mile Cabrillo Beachway. For much of its length, the beachway runs between Cabrillo Boulevard and the shoreline; nearly two miles, from Santa Barbara Harbor to Andree Clark Bird Refuge, are accessible. The views are largely unobstructed here. Along the way you can swim, fish, picnic, charter a boat, or take a side trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo. An accessible electric shuttle runs along Cabrillo Boulevard for the length of the trail, and links to another shuttle that travels between downtown and Stearns Wharf. 

Visitor center: A tourist center with information about lodging, recreational opportunities, and tours is at the corner of East Cabrillo Boulevard and Garden Street.

Trail/Pathway Details

Cabrillo Beachway

Trailhead: West end: Santa Barbara Harbor parking lot. East end: Andree Clark Bird Refuge parking lot at Los Patos Way.

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Hard


For a good workout or leisurely stroll filled with numerous diversions, begin your trip at Santa Barbara Harbor's main parking lot, just off Harbor Way, and follow the beachway east to Andree Clark Bird Refuge. Be prepared to share the trail with joggers, strollers, and bicyclists, and even wide surrey bikes. Striped lanes help to keep everyone in line. At the harbor, the trail briefly cuts inland toward Cabrillo Boulevard, past a swim center and small inaccessible play area. Continue along Cabrillo Boulevard for a few hundred yards as it travels along the back of West Beach, starting at Bath Street. A five-inch drop onto the sand impedes access to the beach, but you can watch a beach volleyball game as you stroll toward Stearns Wharf at the foot of State Street. Here you can hop on an accessible electric shuttle for a side trip downtown along State Street, a dense shopping and restaurant district, or explore the very bumpy wharf, which also has some shops, restaurants, and the Ty Warner Sea Center, an interactive marine education facility.

Just past Stearns Wharf is Skater’s Point, a 14,600-square-foot skateboard park, and an expansive palm-studded grassy area. At Milpas Street you can either cross Cabrillo Boulevard and continue on the bike path toward the Santa Barbara Zoo, a few hundred feet down Los Ninos, or detour to the end of East Beach and stop at the Cabrillo Pavilion Bathhouse, built in 1927, for a snack on the oceanfront patio. Past the zoo, where the Andree Clark Bird Refuge begins, be sure to look over your shoulder, as you will likely catch a glimpse of a giraffe towering high on the hilltop. Follow the path as it travels along the southern edge of the refuge, turning left at Los Patos to reach the refuge trail and the end of the accessible portion of the beachway.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Beach Wheelchair: Yes

Available from the Adapted Programs division of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation, in the Cabrillo Bathhouse at East Beach. They can be reserved Mon.-Fri., 8 am-5 pm, weekends 11 am-4 pm; call (805) 564-5421. If you have a secured way to transport a chair, you can take one to other nearby beaches.

Accessible Parking: Yes

At Santa Barbara Harbor and Andree Clark Bird Refuge lot at Los Patos Way; several public lots are along Cabrillo Boulevard

Accessible Restroom: Yes

The most accessible restrooms are at Chase Palm Park, Cabrillo Bathhouse, Stearns Wharf, the Maritime Museum, and behind the visitor center.  

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

At Chase Palm Park and East and Leadbetter beaches
Beachway along West Beach
Beachway along West Beach (Bonnie Lewkowicz )

Features icon key

  • Beach Wheelchairs Available
  • bicycling
  • boating
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • particularly good for families
  • picnic
  • swimming

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: City of Santa Barbara
Hours: Beachway always open.
Visitor center: Mon.-Sat., 9 am-5 pm; Sun., 10 am-5 pm.
Fees: None
Dogs: On leash
Public Transportation: MTD Santa Barbara 
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, September 16, 2008
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
Boating Icon is a boatBoating   Picnic Area Icon is a picnic tablePicnic
Camping icon is a tentCamping   Swimming Icon is a person swimmingSwimming
Fishing Icon is a fish biting a hookFishing   Wildlife Viewing Icon is a pair of binocularsWildlife Viewing