Goleta (; Spanish: [ɡoˈleta], "schooner") is a city in southern Santa Barbara County, California, United States. It was incorporated as a city in 2002, after a long period as the largest unincorporated populated area in the county. As of the 2000 census, the census-designated place had a total population of 55,204; however, a significant portion of the census territory of 2000 did not incorporate into the new city. The population of Goleta was 29,888 at the 2010 census. It is known for being near the University of California, Santa Barbara, campus.
The area of present-day Goleta was populated for thousands of years by the native Chumash people. Locally they became known by the Spanish as Canaliños because they lived along the coast adjacent to the Channel Islands. One of the largest villages, S'axpilil, was north of the Goleta Slough, not far from the present-day Santa Barbara Airport.
The first European visitor to the Goleta area was the Spanish mariner Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who spent time around the Channel Islands in 1542, and died there in 1543. During the 1980s, discovery of some 16th-century cannon on the beach led to the advancement of a theory that Sir Francis Drake sailed into the Goleta Slough in 1579. Goleta is one of many alternative locations (and the one farthest south) proposed for Drake's "New Albion", generally believed to be today's Drake's Bay, north of San Francisco.