Those searching for the classic beach town will find it in the community of Summerland, California, just 6 miles south of Santa Barbara. This seaside town offers a village-like feel, with restaurants, antique stores, and even a classic white-colored church with steeple. Locals and tourists alike flock to Lookout Park Beach, also called Summerland Beach, because of its high visibility. It's a different world, however, just down the road at Finney Street Beach. It's a hidden gem beach within a hidden gem town.
- Amenities: No Facilities
- Activities: Beachcombing, Beach Walking, Horseback Riding, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Sunbathing
- Dog Policy: Dogs allowed on leash
Finney Street Beach is so hidden that not only are tourists oblivious to its existence, most Santa Barbara locals don't know about it either. They fly through the area at freeway speeds because the road to Finney Street Beach feels like a half-mile-long southbound freeway onramp. Consequently they don't notice a small road on the right.
The relatively unknown Finney Street Beach has a decent amount of parking (~30 cars), parking is free, and your car is just a few feet from the beach. Usually secluded beaches on the South Coast require an extensive walk to get to, which is makes Finney Street Beach unique in that regard. Finney Street Beach is particularly popular with horse owners who want to ride on the beach. It is also not uncommon to see a few people hanging out with a cooler, a portable BBQ, and a guitar, enjoying the sunset.
Summerland is a great option for paddleboarders looking for a less crowded, yet undeniably beautiful spot. The waves here are typically pretty small and break close to shore, which means that it's fairly easy to get out past the breakers and onto smoother waters. This is paddling on the open ocean however, so while the waves on this part of the coast are relatively small thanks in part to the Channel Islands, be aware that the water will not be glassy smooth. Striking out in the early morning before the afternoon on-shore breeze picks up is a good way to ensure you'll have a smoother ride.
Once you reach Finney Street Beach, if you walk left you will encounter Loon Point Beach, another popular starting point for horseback riders. To the right is Summerland Beach and Lookout Park. Bring your lunch, water, and sunscreen because there are no public facilities at this beach, unless you consider trash cans to be facilities. Again, it's a real locals kind of place.
To find Finney Street Beach from downtown Summerland, head toward the ocean on Evans Avenue and cross under the 101 freeway and then immediately turn left/east on Wallace Avenue as if you are about to get back on the south bound highway. Turn right before the freeway entrance and go across the railroad tracks onto Finney Street which is a dead end road.