With each new year comes new ambitions. For many, this involves traveling to unfamiliar (or familiar) places, embracing ways to lead a holistic lifestyle and even trying out new hobbies. That’s where Santa Barbara comes in. In our coastal paradise, you can do all three. Read on for 23 ways to achieve wellness on your next vacation to The American Riviera®.
A visit to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is like taking a walk throughout nearly the entire state of California. With 11 unique ecosystems across five miles of walking trails, this is certainly the place to stop and smell the roses (and the wild irises, and the manzanitas, and the island mallows). Take your wellness routine up a notch with one of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s monthly bird walks or tranquil outdoor yoga classes.
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Relax and recharge inside the crystal salt cave at Salt Cave Santa Barbara, the largest underground salt cave in North America. The healing properties of the minerals are said to improve your body’s overall health and function. Its unique cave massage offerings and zero-gravity lounge chairs will have you feeling rejuvenated.
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Outdoor yoga reaches an entirely new level when practicing on a beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara Beach Yoga’s “yoga headphones” and beginner-friendly classes will ease anyone into a state of pure beachside bliss. Santa Barbara Beach Yoga also offers yoga classes each month under the light of the full moon, accompanied by the relaxing elements of a sound bath.
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Butterfly Beach’s unique east-west orientation makes for unforgettable sunrise or sunset viewing. Whether you bring a cup of coffee or pack a picnic, sit back and let nature do its thing in the star-studded town of Montecito. For more beach-going inspiration, see these other not-to-be-missed beaches in Santa Barbara.
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Visit the park deemed excellent for bird-watching, Andrée Clark Bird Refuge. This tranquil open space includes a 29-acre lake and a modified estuary built to support brackish wetlands, perfect for spying plovers, grebes, cormorants and so much more.
Get the full mind-and-body experience as soon as you step foot into Paradise Found, where you’ll find crystals, tarot decks, candles and other mementos to help you better connect with yourself. Plan your trip in advance and book an intuitive reading to receive additional guidance as you make your way through 2023. For more retail shops specializing in wellness in Santa Barbara, see here.
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With so many unique, luxury and affordable hotels in Santa Barbara come plenty of fabulous pools to dip into. If you’re looking to explore another property, many local hotels and resorts offer one-day pool passes for purchase for non-overnight guests. Just check out these 12 amazing hotel pools in Santa Barbara for inspiration.
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The benefits of walking can profoundly impact your mental and physical health, and a walking tour in Santa Barbara is an excellent way to explore the city. Since 2017, Free Santa Barbara Walking Tours has hosted themed tours ranging from tours of the waterfront, the historic Brinkerhoff Victorian district and local architect Jeff Shelton’s buildings located throughout downtown Santa Barbara.
There’s no better way to recharge your battery than a relaxing sail with SunSwept Sailing. Hop aboard Kelpie, a 35-foot sailing yacht, and take in the epic views of the Santa Barbara coastline. Offering private, customizable excursions for up to six passengers, this intimate setting on the water is a unique way to experience the tranquility of Santa Barbara’s waters.
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Santa Barbara is booming with dozens of art galleries. Stimulate your senses, support local artists or simply enjoy the beauty of each masterpiece at your leisure. Alternatively, visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for a therapeutic hour of sketching original works of art from current exhibitions (all skill levels welcome).
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The Sacred Space, one of Summerland’s most beloved restorative gems, is an excellent place to reset on vacation. As soon as you enter, you’re surrounded by nature, have access to a teahouse and plenty of other calming elements.
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Nature walks with views that will give you a fresh perspective are a must in 2023. Visit Goleta’s Ellwood Mesa during butterfly season (November through February) to witness the beautiful Monarch Butterfly migration within the area’s prime viewing spot, Monarch Butterfly Grove. Any other time of year, take the walking trail to the cliffside for optimal ocean views.
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It’s easy to spend hours in a cozy bookstore reading the first few chapters of the soon-to-be newest novel on your bookshelf. As one of Santa Barbara’s most cherished bookstores, The Book Den has provided that sublime experience for over 120 years.
Sitting back and soaking in the views (and reaping the reward of a fish or two at the end of the line) off Stearns Wharf is perhaps one of the most underrated activities in the Santa Barbara South Coast. Cast off and bask in simplicity this year.
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Santa Barbara is bustling with so many activities that it can be easy to forget to pay a visit to one of the city’s oldest standing attractions: the famous Moreton Bay Fig Tree (located on Chapala and Montecito Street). Believed to have been planted in 1876, this Ficus macrophylla is said to be the largest in the United States.
Fresh, local ingredients and wonderfully distinct flavors grace the plates at the all-vegetarian eatery, Satellite. Let’s raise a glass to (and of) all-natural wine from all corners of the planet while you’re there. For more healthy eats in Santa Barbara, see here.
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Early morning or at sunset, take a serene visit to Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens, where ducks and turtles roam around freely among the park’s lush grounds and fairytale bridges. This downtown park is another great way to engage all of your senses, boasting sensory posts and interpretive Braille signs for people with physical and visual impairments.
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During low tide, Arroyo Burro Beach is the perfect spot for observing creatures that normally reside under the sea. Local to the California Central Coast you’ll find varieties of sea stars, purple sea urchins, sea anemones and more.
Photo credit: Jay Sinclair
California’s central coast is one of the most bountiful farming regions in the United States, no matter the season. With weekly Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Markets happening in Montecito (Fridays), downtown Santa Barbara (Saturdays), Goleta (Sundays) and Old Town Santa Barbara (Sundays), fill your bag with local treats to savor when you return home from your Santa Barbara getaway.
Santa Barbara has quite a few high-end dispensaries to choose from, such as Beyond Hello and Farmacy, with each one resembling a visit to an Apple store more than the next. Cannabis consumers and newbies alike can shop products ranging from pre-rolls and gummies to canned beverages and tinctures, allowing you to achieve wellness on an entirely different level.
22. Walk the iconic Santa Barbara coastline
Start at Shoreline Park in the Mesa neighborhood of Santa Barbara, where you’re situated above sea level overlooking the vast Pacific. Follow the path towards the beach and walk along the famous Cabrillo Boulevard bike path and you’ll find yourself on the far end of East Beach by the volleyball courts, where the long stretches of sand and sea await.
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23. Engage in peaceful meditation along the Labyrinth Trail
The Labyrinth Trail makes for a peaceful excursion of the beaten path of the normally bustling University of California, Santa Barbara campus, with serene views to round out your meditative visit.
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