The Gaviota Coast holds tremendous potential for outdoor recreation. Expansive ocean, island and mountain views are common with miles of remote beaches and interior landscapes to explore. The Coastal Trail will eventually connect the Santa Barbara urban area with county and state parks and national forest lands, linking riders and hikers to these areas from their homes. As the Coastal Trial is completed it will be signed as the "Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail". Whether by foot, horseback, bike or boat, the Gaviota Coast offers world class recreational opportunities.

The area, once sought for National Seashore designation, is home to some of the finest state parks. These current recreation areas, noted for their scenic vistas and isolation from urban areas, include El Capitan State Beach, Refugio State Beach, and Gaviota State Park.