Saturday, 31 December 2011

Santa Barbara Scenic Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 6.7 km (4.2 miles), terrain goes gently uphill on the return

Photos courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr CreativeCommons (except one). Thanks!

For more running routes, see the Route List

Santa Barbara is one of my favorite cites: it's not too big, has a beautiful waterfront, an enchanting, prosperous little downtown, pleasant, lushly landscaped neighborhoods, beautiful beaches and is lined to the north by a ridge of rugged hills.

Santa Barbara is the beach town that all other beach towns should be. The beach is open to the public for its entire length: no high-rises, no condos, no disheartening search for a tiny access road. The businesses are all tastefully designed, with no tacky business strips and barren parking lots. There are bicycle lanes that are actually used, and trees everywhere. Consider yourself lucky if you are planning to spend some time there.

View of town from pier, photo by michellerlee
It's actually quite simple to plan out a route here: you can just run up and down the beach and cliffs for hours if you want. Or maybe loop through any of the rolling residential neighborhoods, or just run along the beautiful downtown State Street. You can't go wrong.

This route has a bit of all of that. I hope you like it!

We'll start in the heart of downtown, at the corner of State Street and Carillo (don't confuse this with Cabrillo, the beach drive). We'll head down State Street towards the southeast, running to the beach.
Along State Street, photo by michellerlee
This is obviously one prosperous town: the downtown shops seem to be doing well in an age when almost all American downtowns were long ago killed off by suburban malls. Maybe the city's strong planning guidelines helped, mandating that the businesses all be built in a harmonious Spanish/American style, with no high-rises blotting out whole downtown neighborhoods.

Just cruise on down the street, past the shops, caf├ęs, theaters, plazas. What a great downtown.
State Street landscaping, photo by Kaizer Rangwala
You will run under the freeway overpass for coastal road US101, then cross the train tracks, and in a couple of blocks you'll come to the beach, at the dolphin fountain.

As I mentioned, the wide beach, with its lagoon and hundreds of sable palms goes on forever, and you could turn left here and just run, first along the wide beach, then along cliffs.

But we'll explore the area here a bit. First, let's run straight out onto Santa Barbara's really cool pier, Stearns Warf. Just head straight out onto the wooden pier, past the seafood restaurants and aquarium. It's fun to watch the anglers and the fishing boats unloading.

Stearns Warf, photo by michellerlee
Run out to the end, then turn back and run back out to the dolphin fountain. Turn left to head southwest along the beach here, running right towards the huge marina straight ahead. Going this way, you can also run forever. Just one kilometer past the marina some beautiful waterfront cliffs begin, lined by parkland trails at Shoreline Park, but we won't head that far on this route.

When you get to the marina, just keep the water on your left side, with the parking lot to your right. You'll run a half a kilometer along the docks full of bobbing yachts.
In the Santa Barbara marina, photo by GibZilla
When you get to the far end, turn left to continue running with the water to your left. You'll go by the marina buildings, with the grill restaurant and harbor buildings: tour boat operations, ships' outfitters, fish markets, etc.
Harbor pelicans, photo by Vagues Solaires
Turn right to run by the harbor businesses, then turn right again at the shipyard to exit the harbor parking lot at Shoreline Drive.

At Shoreline Drive, turn right to head back towards the center of town. There is an athletic field across the street. It belongs to the Santa Barbara City College campus, on the hill to your left. Unfortunately, you can't easily cut through there, so we'll run back along Shorline Drive until you see Pershing Park on your left, just before Castillo Street.

Cross the street and cut through the park. Then run northwards up Castillo, past the baseball fields on the left and the row of motels on the right. The whole neighborhood to the right is full of very nice motels and bed-and-breakfasts, which is where I was staying.

In a few blocks you'll come to an ugly spot where the street goes under the railroad and US101, but soon you'll come back out the north side.
Along De La Vina, photo from Google StreetView
When you come out of the tunnel, turn right on Haley Street and run for two blocks to De La Vina Street, where you turn left, crossing over a deep ravine. This is all a nice old residential neighborhood full of little cottage houses.

Run the five blocks northwards back to Carillo Street, where you turn right and run the last two blocks back to State Street.

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