Dunn School in Santa Barbara County, CA

Dunn School is located in Santa Barbara County, along California's beautiful Central Coast.  Our campus sits in Los Olivos (in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley), an area surrounded by two million acres of National Forest and dotted with vineyards and California ranches.  It is the perfect blend of California sunshine (over 300 days per year!) and year-round access to the outdoors.

Not only does our campus give us easy access to both the coast and the mountains, but it also puts us within easy driving distance of some of the best and most beautiful places in the world.  Whether you enjoy cities or National Parks (California has nine-- more than any other state!), the ocean or the rugged peaks of the Sierras, we know that you'll fall in love with this area.  Where else could you surf and ski in the same weekend?  Here are just a few of the amazing places that you can visit from Dunn's campus:

Santa Ynez Valley California

Santa Ynez Valley

Our Backyard

Santa Monica California

Los Angeles

2 Hours

Big Sur Dunn School Outdoor Education California

Big Sur

3 Hours

Death Valley National Park Dunn School Outdoor Education California

Death Valley NP

5 Hours

Santa Barbara Coast California

The Coast

20 Minutes

Los Padres National Forest Los Olivos California

National Forest

20 Minutes

San Francisco California

San Francisco

4 Hours

Mammoth Lakes California

Mammoth Lakes

6 Hours

Santa Barbara Marina California

Santa Barbara

30 Minutes

Joshua Tree National Park Dunn School Outdoor Education

Joshua Tree NP

4 Hours

Jalama Beach

50 Minutes

Channel Islands National Park Dunn School Outdoor Education California

Channel Islands NP

2 Hours

The Campus

Dunn School is located on a 55-acre campus among the ranches and wineries of northern Santa Barbara County in the town of Los Olivos, CA.  Our campus retains the rural identity and country charm of the Santa Ynez Valley, with our ranch-style buildings that open to the outdoors, athletic fields with mountain views, and outdoor meeting spaces under the massive oaks that characterize California’s central coast. 


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Originally inhabited by the Chumash Indians, the Santa Ynez Valley (pop. 20,000) is a picturesque area partially surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest, with the Pacific Ocean a short drive away. The city of Santa Barbara (pop. 91,000) is 30 miles to the southeast. Los Angeles is a two-hour drive south, and San Francisco is four hours to the north.


Residential students live in attractive, well maintained dorms that include housing for resident faculty families — complete with kids, pets and all the bustle of daily life. Each dorm includes for student use: a full kitchen, comfortable lounge with fireplace and TV, Wi-Fi access, laundry facilities, cleaning supplies and multiple patios. Students (with faculty supervision) are required to clean their rooms each evening and keep the common areas tidy and sanitary. The dorms also organize programming to foster community and responsibility, which we consider part of our whole student approach to learning and living.


Chef Robin Reynolds leads Dunn’s food service, serving three hot meals and two snacks per day for the Upper School Dining Hall and Middle School lunches. Foods are prepared from whole fresh ingredients, limiting the use of processed foods and avoiding products containing artificial flavorings, M.S.G., preservatives and high levels of sodium. Local farmers practicing sustainable farming methods are utilized whenever possible. Menus are also created with the cultural and dietary preferences of our diverse international community in mind, and vegan and vegetarian offerings are always available. What’s more, the facility earned a 3-Star Green Restaurant rating — the only one in Santa Barbara County! — that recognizes excellence in such areas as water efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable food practices, energy use, and chemical and pollution reduction.

Art & Music

The Sinclaire Art Studios feature a painting studio, ceramics studio with an outdoor kiln, and a multimedia classroom for digital photography and film-making students. Designed to take advantage of natural light as well as new technology, the Studio is the perfect place for all students to explore hidden talents and for budding artists to get the foundations they need for lifelong expression.

Our music facility is an old one-room school house donated to the school by the Firestone family. The open space inside makes for a perfect place to learn the basics of music theory, how to play different instruments, and jam with friends and faculty. Walk by any time of the day or evening and you’ll hear students working on their craft.


 This makerspace is designed for a 9th grade “Research and Development” class that is a problem- and project-based approach to scientific fundamentals. Students engage in coding, robotics, woodcraft, applied physics, and related activities to learn the principles of science and engineering.

Athletic Facilities

The California sunshine and local mountains are the perfect setting for year-round outdoor sports and activities. Students in all grades enjoy using six tennis courts, four athletic fields, a heated swimming pool, full gymnasium, volleyball courts (one indoor, two outdoor), basketball courts (indoor and outdoor), rock-climbing wall, bouldering facility, cardio room, weightlifting room, cross-training facility, and a jogging track around campus. We also boast the premier baseball field and training facility in the region, completely rebuilt and opened in 2015.

Student-Run Cafe & Store

Founded and run by students, the Earwig Café is more than just a cool place to study with friends or get a snack. Student employees learn how to run a business, and all profits are invested by students and used to fund a student scholarship.

Dunn School Main Office:




Dunn School Admissions Office:

800-287-9197 or admissions@dunnschool.org



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