A Tour of Isla Vista Parks
By Joy Zendran-Kavanaugh and Sally Baker
Guide to Isla Vista Parks
Whether you are visiting with friends or family as a prospective student, or seeking new outdoor spots to enjoy, this walking guide to Isla Vista parks has everything you need. The guide gives a description of highlights at each park, including recreation, education, and nature. The parks are an important part of maintaining the community feel of Isla Vista, and this guide seeks to encourage the outdoor activity that is such a prominent part of the community.
The guide is arranged by distance from the UCSB campus.
Camino Pescadero Park
Location: At the end of Camino Pescadero, between the 6500 and 6600 blocks of Del Playa Drive
At-a-Glance: Beach access point, outdoor shower, picnic table, benches
Camino Pescadero Park is one of five beach access points along Del Playa, but is the only access point that boasts an outdoor shower, ideal for surfers and beachgoers alike. In addition to the shower, this park has a picnic table and open grass space, and benches overlooking the sea. Though small, this park is charming and captures the beachside town vibe of Isla Vista.
Camino Pescadero Park was redone in 2002. Along with the addition of amenities, the plant life was restored to reflect the native habitats found in coastal regions of Santa Barbara and Isla Vista. The native plant life enhances the atmosphere of the park as well as providing an educational aspect for visitors interested in botany.
The park also provides informational signs about the history of the Santa Barbara Channel and the Chumash Indians, which is a unique history relevant to the Isla Vista community.
Location: Halfway down the 6700 block of Sueño Road
At-a-Glance: Orchard trees, Isla Vista Peace Disc Golf Course
The Sueño Orchard was started as a demonstration project in the 1980’s, and a variety of trees were grown with organic gardening methods, offering fresh produce to the public. Though the orchard does not produce as much as it once did, it is still representative of the community mindset characteristic of Isla Vista. This mindset is part of what makes Isla Vista such a unique and appealing place to live and visit.
The orchard is now the start of the Isla Vista Peace Disc Golf Course, with the first two holes at the center of the park. The Disc Golf Course is another of the many recreational activities that take place throughout the parks, encouraging students to engage in outdoor activities and wholesome fun with friends.
Sea Lookout Park
Location: At the end of Camino Corto, on Del Playa Drive between 6700 and 6800 blocks
At-a-Glance: Large open space, volleyball court, trail towards the beach, picnic tables and wooden platforms
If you’ve come to this park for relaxation, fun, or both, then you’re in the right place. With plenty of open space, you can lie out a blanket and read a book, or gather some friends for a game of beach volleyball. Sea Lookout Park is known for having free or donation-based yoga classes most Sundays. It is affectionately known as “dogshit” park by Isla Vistans, due to the high volume of dogs. To the right of the park is a path that can be followed to Sands Beach and Coal Oil Point, one of the more popular areas for sunbathing and surfing near Isla Vista.
The wooden platforms and benches are ideal for whale or dolphin watching. If you visit between late November and April, you are in for a treat, as the Pacific gray whale is migrating south with her calves in tow. The whale watching continues through the summer, when there is the possibility of seeing humpback and blue whales. Three different species of dolphins can be seen
playfully leaping out of the water just off the coast, including the Pacific white-sided dolphin, coastal bottlenose dolphin, and rissos dolphin.
Tierra de Fortuna Park
Location: At the end of Fortuna Road, mountainside
At-a-Glance: Family-friendly, playground, picnic area, shaded gazebo
Tierra de Fortuna is one of the greenest parks in Isla Vista, due to lush surrounding plant life. It has beautiful views of the mountains and trees, and it connects to the Kids Path for easy and safe beach access. The Kids Path runs alongside the nature preserve, and is a great way to enjoy the surrounding natural area and plant life native to the Santa Barbara region.
Quiet and off the beaten path, Tierra de Fortuna is ideal for picnics and family gatherings. The shaded gazebo features a picnic table, with soft, well-kept grass nearby. The playground includes a swing set, a teeter-totter, a merry-go-round (the last of its kind in the country), a sand pit with a digging toy, and a giant dinosaur climbing structure. The fun isn’t just for kids, though. This park also has trees that are perfect for setting up a slackline, and the open space is ideal for badminton, frisbee, or tossing a ball around. Right next to the park, at the end of Fortuna Road, there is a basketball hoop for added fun with friends and family.
Isla Vista Love and Remembrance Garden
Location: At People’s Park and Perfect Park, near Embarcadero Hall and Embarcadero Loop
At-a-Glance: Botanic landscape, benches, collaborative art
IV Parks and Recreation
The Isla Vista Love and Remembrance Garden is a community art project in People’s Park and Perfect Park in the heart of Isla Vista. Commemorating the lives lost in the 2014 Isla Vista shooting, the garden speaks to the collaborative efforts of the UCSB and Isla Vista communities to foster an atmosphere of unity and healing.
The main attraction is a botanic landscape that stretches from People’s Park to Perfect Park, sponsored by local businesses and UCSB organizations. UCSB art students designed the six steel benches that are featured in the garden, one for each of the UCSB victims. As a community effort, the Isla Vista Love and Remembrance Garden is a must-see for visitors interested in student activism and artistic commemoration.
Location: At the corner of Picasso Road and Abrego Road on Camino Del Sur
At-a-Glance: Playground, gazebo, handball court, grill, benches
Santa Barbara Independent
Children’s Park features a large playground, handball courts, and grassy lawn for outdoor activities. In an area of Isla Vista primarily populated by families, Children’s Park is a popular destination for birthday parties and family gatherings.
With a covered gazebo and barbecue grill, Children’s Park offers fun for the whole family. The Children’s Park Recreation Program works with local at-risk youth, and meets at the park weekly. Children’s Park is a local favorite, and a wonderful, safe destination for Isla Vista visitors with small children.
Window to the Sea
Location: 6600 block of Del Playa Drive, oceanside
At-a-Glance: Breathtaking ocean views, loveseat swing, plants
A local gem, Window to the Sea is a small park overlooking the ocean with a tree swing and grassy area. Nestled between oceanside Del Playa houses, Window to the Sea is a great spot for some time alone or with a friend.
Catch a beautiful Isla Vista sunset while swinging gently above the ocean, and maybe even get a glimpse of a whale during migration season. Dolphins and sea lions are prevalent throughout the year, and are frequently spotted from Window to the Sea. The lookout point is peaceful and serene, offering an authentic slice of everyday Isla Vista life.
Tipi Village & Estero Community Gardens
Location: 6700 block of Sueño Road, between Camino del Sur and Camino Corto
At-a-Glance: native plants, community gardens, Isla Vista Peace Disk Golf Course
Named after an experiment in sustainable living that featured a community of tipis, Tipi Village is adjacent to the Estero Community Gardens, which are open year round for community members to plant and care for fruits and vegetables.
Featuring holes 3 and 4 of the Isla Vista Peace Disk Golf Course, Tipi Village functions as one of many important historical sites for activist history in Isla Vista. The Red Barn, situated amidst a grove-preserve in the park, hearkens to Isla Vista’s past as a ranching community, linking present day activities to past livelihoods.
Tipi Village and the Estero Community Gardens are part of the larger Estero Park, located between Camino del Sur and Camino Corto. Estero Park boasts a wide range of activities, from traditional recreational sports, to points of historical significance and community activism. The Estero Community Gardens are a leading example of sustainability in the Isla Vista and Santa Barbara communities.
For more information and to explore other parks, visit Isla Vista Parks and Recreation: