Celebrating 54 Years of Earth Day

Did you know that one of the original “seeds” for Earth Day was planted right here in Santa Barbara? It’s true. The modern U.S. environmental movement took root here in 1969 in response to an offshore oil spill that inspired locals and people across the country to stand up to protect our natural resources. Ever since, locals, activists and civic leaders have been committed to cultivating and maintaining a sustainable community in Santa Barbara. That extends to everything from preserving open spaces, reducing pollution, supporting local farms, creating sustainable fisheries, building green and treading lightly on Mother Nature in every way possible.

After visiting Santa Barbara in the wake of that 1969 oil spill, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson initiated a national “sit-in” on the environment to raise awareness of the importance of clean air and water. The first national Earth Day was held April 22, 1970, when Santa Barbara’s own Earth Day Festival also made its debut. The collective impact of that inaugural Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

Santa Barbara’s grassroots environmental groups like the Community Environmental Council (CEC) continue to carry the green torch locally. For the past 54 years, CEC has put on Santa Barbara’s annual Earth Day Festival in April, growing it from a single-day event to a weekend-long celebration that inspires, educates, and motivates individuals to take action. Celebrate Earth Day 2024 at Alameda Park, April 27-28, 2024.

During your next visit to the Santa Barbara South Coast, there are many ways you can be a responsible traveler, lessen your impact, and enjoy the greener side of Santa Barbara while visiting any time of year. Here are five ways you can do your part to honor the intentions behind Earth Day when you return to our sunny shores.

Hop on a Bike

Santa Barbara is an extremely bike-friendly community. Many hotels offer complimentary bikes, you can bring your own bike along or rent a bike once you arrive. Bike trails abound, including the iconic waterfront path that stretches from the Harbor and Stearns Wharf to East Beach and into Montecito. The road biking and mountain biking options are endless, too. In fact, Santa Barbara County is one of the premier training grounds for pro cyclists and it’s often on the Amgen Tour of California route. Learn More

Eat Like a Locavore

Savor the organic bounty of Santa Barbara County at local eateries who source ingredients from local farmers, fishermen and ranchers. Your health and palate will benefit from consuming more nourishing, flavorful food prepared with the freshest ingredients possible. And you’ll be supporting regional growers and cultivators, rather than consuming ingredients that had to travel hundreds or thousands of miles on a truck. You can also meet the people who grow the food and see what’s in season when you visit one of the many weekly Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Markets or U-pick farm stands. Learn More

Shop Small

The three pillars of sustainability are environment, social and economic. So you can be a sustainable traveler and contribute to the local economy in a meaningful way by shopping small and supporting local entrepreneurs and family-run businesses. Check out our “Like a Local” neighborhood guides for inspiration on where locals like to shop in eight different ‘hoods. And, while you’re enjoying some much-needed retail therapy, take home a unique piece of Santa Barbara from these local, one-of-a kind boutiques. Learn More

Get Outside

Thanks to preservation efforts dating back to the original Earth Day in 1970 and beyond, Santa Barbara’s pristine natural environment awaits outdoor adventurers. Relish in our wide-open spaces, from nature preserves and beaches to state and national parks. Take a trip to the Channel Islands National Park, considered the “Galapagos of North America.” Camp at Refugio State Beach or make it a glamp out at El Capitan Canyon. Kayak along the coast, try your hand at stand up paddleboarding or go for a front country hike. Surf, bike, sail…the list goes on! Thanks to thoughtful leaders and our passionate community, the natural beauty of Santa Barbara can be enjoyed for generations to come. Learn More

Ride Amtrak

Taking the train to Santa Barbara could not be a more pleasant experience, from the coastal views on the journey to the central location of the Amtrak station in downtown Santa Barbara. You can easily walk to hotels, shops, wineries and restaurants once you arrive at the station. Santa Barbara, Goleta and Lompoc stations are served by Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner® and Coast Starlight® trains that connect Santa Barbara to destinations from San Diego in the south all the way to Seattle in the north. Learn More