It might not get the most press of the many golf destinations in California, but with its year-round mild weather and resort atmosphere, Santa Barbara  is a great place to play a few holes. There are six public courses within an hour of downtown Santa Barbara—everything from a popular municipal course to championship courses with views of the ocean from the greens.
It’s still a golf course, but Glen Annie (405 Glen Annie Rd., 805/968-6400, www.glenanniegolf.com , $60–75, carts $6–11) has worked with Audubon International to create wildlife habitats on its land. Who knows what you might see when you’re out walking the lush, green, 18-hole, par-72 course? Well, you’ll definitely get great views of the town of Santa Barbara , the ocean, and the Channel Islands on this hilly course.
The Frog Bar & Grill, the on-site restaurant, draws any number of non-golfers up to Glen Annie for lunch. Set in a castle-like structure, the Frog serves California cuisine dishes that are a far cry from most clubhouse fare. So come for the golf, stay for the unusual and delicious fare.
If you’re already interested in exploring Santa Barbara’s wine country , consider reserving a tee time at La Purisima Golf Course (3455 Hwy. 246, 805/735-8395, $30–80). This golf course, built in 1986, gets high praise for its design and difficulty level—even if you’re an expert golfer, “La Piranha” will test your skills. The par 72 course is a 45-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara , but many locals think it’s worth the trip.
In addition to the 18 holes, you can access the grass driving range, the short-game practice area, and the pro shop. A number of PGA and LPGA golf pros are on hand to help you improve your game.
The Sandpiper (7925 Hollister Ave., 805/968-1541, www.sandpipergolf.com , $60–140, cart $16) boasts some of the most amazing views you’ll find in all of Santa Barbara . They’re so great because they’re right up close, and on several holes your ball is in danger of falling into the world’s largest water trap. And hey, there’s a great championship rated 74.5, 18-hole, par 72 golf course out there on that picturesque beach too!
Take advantage of the pro shop and on-site restaurant, but do be aware of the semi-formal, denim-free dress code Sandpiper enforces. It’s not cheap, but a long walk on the beach with a great golf game in the middle of it seems well worth it to an endless stream of golfers who rank Sandpiper as one of their favorite courses.