El Capitan Canyon 11560 Calle Real, Goleta, 685-3887
El Cap, as the locals refer to it, is a nice little campground where the ocean lulls you to sleep. Hard as it is to get in during the summer, the spots open up in fall a bit and regular folks can make easy reservations online or by phone and get away from the big city-maybe even with the kids-and sleep in the fresh air, and wake up to a nice sandy beach with waves to contemplate the tides of your life. It’s a complete getaway: swimming, fishing, surfing, and camping, promises the official site, and rates for families cost between $16 and $25 per night.
687-3714 (park information)
It’s important that we get this straight now, because there was confusion last year. You pull into the Hendry’s parking lot at the end of Las Positas Road. (Some people call this beach the Pit, or Arroyo Burro-it’s all the same place.) As you face the ocean you take your pooch, on a leash to the left, toward State Street, away from Hope Ranch until you get past the slough. Then you may remove the leash and let Fido frisk au naturel with complete encouragement from those otherwise tough guys and gals from Animal Control. Walk back toward the Mesa Lane steps, and see a little cave, some cool downed trees, and a wide beach with fellow dog lovers. Bowser will be pleased.
Douglas Family Preserve
Sporting Goods Store
Big 5 Sporting Goods 3935 State St., 964-4749
Perennial winners who seem to be hosting perennial sales events, Big 5 is the place to stock up on team supplies or just score yourself a nice pair of walking shoes priced very competitively with even the alleged discount sports shoes chains. Friendly staff, a large variety, and just enough stuff to keep the athlete inside us happy when it/he/she hits the gym or the sunny playing fields of Santa Barbara.
Rincon Beach 681-5650 (park information)
It’s probably our most famous break, though parts of Hollister Ranch seem more lost in diaphanous surfer legends. When it’s big, it’s unassailable, fast, and beautifully formed. Plaguing most of the Rincon regulars’ minds right now are the end of the summer doldrums and awaiting the beginning of the swells that make Rincon, well, Rincon. On the other hand, despite a widespread movement to heal this ocean, Rincon has been frequently declared one of the more polluted spots in our curl-riding neighborhoods. Politics might cure what ails it; we all hope for the best. Meanwhile, sewers and swell will come and go, but this place remains more than a pipe dream, and nothing less than an obsession.
Place to Get Snowboard/Ski Gear
Mountain Air Sports 14 State St., 962-0049
For more than 25 years, Mountain Air has been in the business of outfitting Santa Barbarians for the tough job of getting out of a beach town for a while. Skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and climbing are just a few of the rugged endeavors that these dedicated purveyors of equipment and apparel have been supplying. They go to the trade shows, they rely on experienced staff recommendations, but most of all they’ve been working with at least two generations of hardy outdoor Barbarenos. They’re the top of the heap.
Big 5 Sporting Goods
Camping Gear Store
Santa Barbara Outfitters 1200 State St., 564-1007
The business graces State Street, though the owners have two kayak stores if you ever need to get out on the water. The staff is able-bodied and resolutely outdoorsy, and the range of enjoyable physical activities runs from scaling cliffs to shooting tubes. You know, a regular old day in the life of most everybody living in S.B.
Big 5 Sporting Goods
Place to Get Swimwear
Bikini Factory 2275 Ortega Hill Rd., Ste. B, Summerland, 969-2887
“Oh goodie,” said longtime champ of this category Linda Meyer. “Someone once asked me what I would do if I didn’t get voted in and I said, ‘I guess I’d just have to retire.’” Meyer and her shop, which was first founded in 1963 (though Meyer’s had it since 1975), have won this category every year since 1988. The beach hasn’t been extremely happening this year, according to Meyer, who says that people have economic worries she understands. “If the choice is gas for my car or a bikini? Well, we know who’s going to win. But it was a fine year for business anyway, and I’m very grateful to my customers. I’m serving grandchildren now,” she laughed.
Bicycle Bob’s 15 Hitchcock Wy., 682-4699; 250 Storke Rd., Goleta, 685-6799
“I think the real reason people like this store is because we don’t have any employees who don’t want to be here. Everybody here loves what they’re doing and customers understand that,” said general manager Kenneth Acklin. “This is our 16th anniversary and we’re glad they keep voting for us every year.”
Church of Skatan 26 E. Gutierrez St., 899-1586
You might be surprised to learn that some of the guys who work here take wisecracking as seriously as bombing hills. “The reason that the people vote for us is because we have 13 secret ingredients,” said Ryan McCann. “Just like Colonel Sanders’ chicken.” McCann secretly is awed that the readers keep voting for this secular place of worship (the shop is on the site of a decommissioned church). When asked on the phone if he was a store manager, McCann replied, “No, I am a skateboard associate.” “Just like Colonel Sanders,” added a fellow associate in the background.
S.B. Skate Shop
Place to Get Athletic Shoes
Santa Barbara Running 110 Anacapa St., 899-8802; 129 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta, 964-6700
“We’re very happy to get this support from the community,” said manager Micah Tyhurst. “I think our strength is both the great service we give in the stores and our role in the community as a sponsor of races and other running events. People see us out there,” he said.
Hook, Line & Sinker 4010-5 Calle Real, 687-5689
Mr. Yong Shin’s shop is the last logical stop on the way to Cachuma Lake. Or, to look at it another way, it’s the first place you go before heading out onto the bounding main. He likes to laugh off the award, saying, “I’m the only fishing shop in Santa Barbara.” But most of the time during the last 15 years that he’s won this award that wasn’t true-he was just too busy helping customers to brag about how much they love shopping here.
Big 5 Sporting Goods
Anacapa Dive Center 22 Anacapa St., 963-8917
“It’s very cool that we won,” said Lacy Taylor, who has owned the shop for 15 years come this November. “I would say our success is based on the fact that we are just continuing to provide customers with high-quality equipment and help at every aspect of diving,” she said, explaining that the famed shop offers training courses as well as sophisticated updates for the experienced sub-aqueous explorers. “We help everybody from eight-year-olds to diving instructors.”
Blue Water Hunter
Glen Annie Golf Club 405 Glen Annie Rd., Goleta, 968-6400
They’ve only been around for a little more than a decade and have some pretty stiff competition from a fine community course and the gorgeous-but-affordable Sandpiper Golf Course. But this year Glen Annie took the prize. “I think it’s because we’ve developed a lot of great programs for locals,” explained general manager Rich Nahas. “We’re concentrating more on people in the community rather than tourists, and it’s really been paying off,” he said. “Besides, we have a very low turnover of staff, so when people come in, the staff knows them and they can feel like it’s their club.”
Sandpiper Golf Course
Twin Lakes Golf Course & Learning Center 6034 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 964-1414
It’s a little bit of open country smack dab in the middle of Old Town Goleta. The nine-hole Twin Lakes course is inexpensive and challenging enough to give that flavor of golfing to those who’ve got the drive, but don’t have the time and dough for a big duffing fix.
Santa Barbara Dance Arts 1 N. Calle Cesar Ch¡vez, Ste. 100, 966-5299
Formerly known as Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy, this lively center occupying the industrial portion of our picturesque little town has been drawing customers and praise for the last five years, especially for its co-creators Steven Lovelace and Alana Tillim. “I think the best thing about it is our dance space, our studio,” said Tillim. “It isn’t just a dance studio. It’s young people gathering at a cafe, blowing off steam in a safe, artistic environment, the parents coming and going-it’s more like a community center,” she said.
Rhythm Dance & Fitness
Spectrum Athletic Clubs 21 W. Carrillo St., 965-0999; 3908 State St., 563-8700; 6144 Calle Real, Goleta, 964-0556
This chain of health clubs began long ago in Venice, California, and is one of those no-nonsense gyms-somewhere between a boxing club and a spa-where variety and professional quality preside. The Pilates exercises (kinetically engineered stretches that swept the health-keeping industry this past decade) have found an impressive niche in a real environment where your shape and well-being exercise a lot of sway.
Santa Barbara Athletic Club
Yoga Soup 28 Parker Wy., 965-8811
More than 25 teachers representing the widest variety of yoga and related disciplines, including Pilates training, occupy this center. Opened by Eddie Ellner two-and-a-half years ago, Yoga Soup prides itself in casting the widest of nets and yet insists on its spiritual underpinning. It’s not a stretch to say the readers agree.
Santa Barbara Yoga Center
Santa Barbara Athletic Club 520 Castillo St., 966-6147
For more than 30 years, this Cadillac of health clubs has graced the Bath Street off-ramp of the 101. Celebrities and other hard-working people take advantage of the various disciplines, from spinning to swimming, with almost everything in between. (The hot tubs are hotbeds for local gossip, according to one infamous chitchat we know.) “We are totally excited to win,” said manager Eric Shmitz. “And we’re thankful to all our members and all your readers for voting for us. This is our first time, and we’re setting ourselves to go forward from here.”
Spectrum Athletic Clubs
Channel Islands Surfboards 36 Anacapa St., 966-7213
This is the one that legends were made on way back before surfing became a family sport, since 1969 when designer Al Merrick first became known for his boards. A 38-year reign holding up some of the greatest surfers in the world-a number from this town like Tom Curren and Kim Mearig, for instance-Channel Islands is world renowned and, according to the readers, the best in town.
Beach House Surf ‘n’ Wear
Martial Arts Studio
Martial Arts Family Fitness 122 E. Gutierrez St., 963-6233
“I think the real reason people like us is because we are a family-oriented studio,” said David Wheaton, master of the studio, explaining that they have students from age two to their early sixties right now. “We teach a discipline called dynamic circle hapkido, fitness kickboxing, and a program we call KUT, which is a nine-week fitness program. But I really think people like us because we like families.”
South Coast Karate
Outdoor Fitness Program
Controversial lately because the city has been trying to limit the number of like-minded fitness programs operating in its parks, but BootyCampSB is the one that got licensed. Especially good for people who want to get out in the fresh air and shape up in a crash course, BootyCamp is the place where our readers apparently would like to enlist.
Body Boot Camp of Santa Barbara