For a state beach along highway 1, Gaviota has is a great option if you're looking for scenic hikes and less crowds!

About 30 miles north of Santa Barbara on the 101 is a small state beach in the 90 person town of Gaviota. Most people pass right on through to San Luis Obispo or don't even make it past Goleta, but this gem is worth checking out either for a day trip or to camp for the weekend.

Since it is a state beach there will be a gate guard ready for some payment for your time sleeping on the ground, but that's expected! For 35 bucks we got our own site with fire pit and picnic table. The campground also has running water and bathrooms. A unique feature to this beach is that the railroad runs directly over head, hoisted up by your quintessential wooden bridge. The train only comes every hour or so, so it's more of a treat when it steams through as oppose to a nuisance.

There are some great hikes all around the beach and surrounding mountain side that offer incredible views of the cliffs and ocean. An immediate left after leaving the campground takes you up on the cliff where you can park and walk around the railroad tracks or start one of the hikes. The most popular hike leads to a number of wind caves, though I personally did not try that one so i'm sorry I don't have any more information on it!

One of the reasons why I believe this beach isn't as popular as the landscape would entail, is because of the unruly wind that comes through at night. If you are to camp here I highly suggest bringing a smaller tent because everyone who had a larger group type shelter was battling the wind and their tie downs all night. The wind was quite literally blowing over their tents. Now I asked if that was more of a fluke night but the camp host informed us that it happens quite a bit as he retreats to his 40 foot castle on wheels and watches the entertainment.

Overall, with the right shelter and weather I would definitely recommend this spot and stay there again!

Make your camping reservations here.

Pack List

  • Small tent
  • Stove
  • Food
  • Fishing gear/license
  • Wood
  • Day pack
  • Camera
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Activities Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Beach
Family Friendly
Groups
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers

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