Healthy Escapes in Santa Barbara

When you come to live the good life in Santa Barbara, there’s no such thing as overindulgence. That’s because the good life here is all about well-being and reveling in your personal version of bliss. Maybe that translates to checking into a luxury seaside resort with a divine full-service spa that will cater to your every whim. If that’s not quite your speed, how about an active cycling vacation throughout wine country? Or maybe you simply want to infuse your sightseeing with some meditative, grounding activities. Whatever your Zen pleasure, you’ll find that Santa Barbara is a haven for wellness in a myriad of soul-satisfying forms—from melt-worthy massages, organic facials and hot yoga to forest bathing, balancing your chakras and attuning to the natural elements. Start manifesting your next Santa Barbara vacation by reflecting on these five wellness-centric trip ideas.

Book Your Stay

Sensational Spa Retreat

For the ultimate “treat yourself” spa getaway, look no further than the effortlessly elegant Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Set on 22-acres of lush, jungle-like gardens perched steps away from Butterfly Beach, the dreamy grounds, inviting rooms, lavish amenities and impeccable hospitality make it really hard to leave after getting checked in. If a complete getaway isn’t in your budget, you can still experience The Spa by booking a treatment as a day guest—and take advantage of all the pampering amenities like the steam room, sauna, relaxation lounge and spa garden. From every angle, The Spa is a seriously sublime place to unwind and relax while gazing out at the Pacific Ocean. If you want a personal space to retreat between treatments, consider booking a day suite outfitted with private hydrotherapy steam showers and soaking tubs. The Spa itself provides a variety of detoxifying treatments and service packages for men and women. Signature treatments include the Four Seasons in One spa ritual, Voya’s Organic Seaweed Leaf Wrap and Body Scrub and the Kypris Rose Quartz Facial.

A Multi-Day Bike Tour

See Santa Barbara through a new lens when you book a guided bike tour with Trek Travel. Named one of Travel+Leisure magazine’s “World’s Best Tour Operators,” Trek Travel blends luxury travel, sightseeing and uncompromising hospitality with cycling adventures on their multi-day tours led by exceptional guides. Built for every type of rider—from novices to the most avid cyclists—Trek Travel gives guests a choice between the carbon Trek Domane SL 7 Disc and the electric pedal-assist bike. Each day, you’ll be presented with three ride options and you get to decide how much you ride—or don’t, if you opt to hang out at the hotel or explore on your own. Trek Travel offers two different Santa Barbara itineraries on select dates throughout the year during the months of March, April, May, August, September, October and November. The Santa Barbara Long Weekend makes the Hotel Californian its headquarters for three days of cycling and wine tasting in Santa Barbara County, while the Ojai to Santa Barbara itinerary splits the stay between the Ojai Valley Inn and Hotel Californian, with cycling and culinary experiences in both locales. Packages start at $2599 per person which includes three to four nights of accommodations, breakfast daily, some lunches and dinners, nightly social hours, expert guides, route support, admission fees, the gear and much more.

Frolic through the trees at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Photo Credit: Cecilia Rosell

Go Forest Bathing

There’s little to no cost to practice the Japanese art of shinrin-yoku, otherwise known as forest bathing. In this case, Mother Nature is the medicine and all you have to do is walk amongst the trees and surround yourself with nature to reap the benefits. Your closest option to forest bathing in town is the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, set on 78 acres with 5.5 miles of walking trails that include a redwood grove. Santa Barbara’s front country trails—like Jesusita, Rattlesnake Canyon and Seven Falls—are easily accessible for day hikes, while the backcountry trails into the Los Padres National Forest offer even more solitude for multi-day camping trips. With a little extra effort and planning, you can get yourself to the Channel Islands National Park & Marine Sanctuary for a hike on one of the most untouched and diverse natural ecosystems in the country, where the sacred signs of human life date back 13,000 years.

Salute the Sun

If you prefer a DIY approach to your healthy escape, plan an itinerary that allows you to practice mindfulness and get in sync with nature’s rhythms. Make a point to watch the sunrise every morning, preferably along the waterfront for the best reflections. While no one will judge you if you actually start doing sun salutations on the beach, if you want a guided yoga practice at any point in the day, you’ll have a diverse range of options at your fingertips between the city’s dozen or so studios. In the late afternoon, head to the hills for a higher vantage to watch the sun go down. Inspiration Point and Lizard’s Mouth are two scenic options for sunset hikes. For something less ambitious but equally stunning, take a leisurely stroll through Ellwood Mesa or the Douglas Preserve and grab a seat on the cliffs to watch the sun sink into the sea.

Spend moment of Zen at the Lagoon Island Labyrinth. Photo Credit: Instagram fan @alicezhang_

Contemplate Life in a Labyrinth

Practice a contemplative ritual that dates back to ancient times when you take a meditative walk through one of Santa Barbara’s two labyrinths that are free and open to the public. Lagoon Island on the beautiful UCSB Campus is home to the Labyrinth Trail, made out of decomposed granite and river rocks. The path was made wider than your average labyrinth in order to be ADA-accessible, and the lagoon trailhead can be reached from Lot 6 on the southwest side of campus. In downtown Santa Barbara, the 100-plus-year old Trinity Episcopal Church (1500 State Street) features a labyrinth with a design inspired by an even older cathedral in Chartres, France. Your destination at the end of the labyrinth? The here and now!

For more wellness inspired trip planning resources, check out this sample itinerary and our Healthy Eats guide.

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