When it’s time to get centered or you’re simply in need of some soul-soothing TLC, consider a wellness weekend in Santa Barbara. Our destination is the perfect antidote to the nonstop pace of our hectic modern world. Life moves at a relaxed pace here, and the friendliness of our locals is known to lift spirits. Serenity can be easily found on the water, in the mountains and amidst tranquil gardens and parks throughout the region. Whether you’re seeking a mental health reboot, digital detox or pure pampering, our health and wellness gurus cover the full spectrum of self-care services and Mother Nature is always on hand to work her magic. Here’s an escape plan to introduce you to some of our favorite places and things to do when you’re ready to unplug and exhale.
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As soon as you arrive in Santa Barbara, check into your hotel and get settled in. Then clear your head and get attuned to your home away from home with a walk or bike ride along the waterfront Cabrillo Bike Path. You could also consider a peaceful stroll through the Mission Rose Garden or Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.
If you arrive on a Thursday, take advantage of the weekly evening stand up paddle boarding yoga class offered by Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara (5:30 p.m., $55/person). The 1.5-hour class will get your blood flowing with some paddling followed by a guided meditation and yoga flow on the water. As an alternative to yoga on the water, several studios in town offer candlelit evening yoga classes, which will leave you feeling all kinds of Zen. There are also some quirkier yoga variations sure to leave you smiling—like yoga with cats at Cat Therapy (9:00 a.m. Sundays, $25/person) and special YoGoat classes with goats hosted at the Hotel Californian on occasion.
No matter what you opt to do to clear the cobwebs and get grounded, make dinner a healthy yet indulgent affair. Oliver’s Montecito offers a full service “fine dining” experience and a 100% organic vegan menu. If you’re imbibing, they also offer premium garden-to-glass cocktails and locally made beers and wines.
Watching the sunrise is hands-down one of the most inspirational ways to start a day, no matter where you are. In Santa Barbara, there are many places to watch the sun come up. One of the most inspiring and invigorating is the hike to Inspiration Point. Hit the trail bright and early to reach the top just in time to watch the sun illuminate the city and sea. The short version of the hike is just under four miles round trip, so be prepared with water—or even a pressed juice from Juice Ranch.
If you prefer to ease into the day and want to watch the sun come up without breaking a sweat, consider grabbing a bench at Shoreline Park, taking a leisurely trek through the Douglas Preserve or planting your feet in the sand at Thousand Steps Beach. After basking in the glory of the sunrise, stop by Backyard Bowls for a nourishing and refreshing Açai bowl.
Treat your skin and lungs to a cleansing Himalayan salt cave session at Salt Santa Barbara. The healing powers of halotherapy—breathing air saturated with salt particles—can be traced back to the 12th century and is looked to as a natural and effective way to improve respiratory health. The Salt Santa Barbara cave walls and ceiling are made of 45 tons of Jurassic-Age salt blocks and crystals, and the floor is covered with crushed salt, so the atmosphere is infused with micro-particles of salt that can be easily absorbed through the skin and deep into the lungs. All you do is close your eyes, relax and breathe for 45-minutes while laying on a mat or sitting in a zero-gravity recliner.
In the afternoon, head to the foothills of Montecito to revel in the peace and quiet of the 46-acre Vedanta Temple, which is open until 7:00 p.m. daily. Meditate in the temple and browse the gift shop packed with spiritual artifacts, imported gifts and religious books of every type. Then do some more browsing through the globally inspired wonderland that is Sacred Space in nearby Summerland. Oprah herself is a customer, to give you a sense of the caliber of their spiritually inclined offerings. The shopkeepers will offer you tea upon arrival and welcome you to explore, whether you’re in the market for gifts, a talisman for yourself or something decorative for the house or garden. Visitors are always welcome to take advantage of their meditation gardens out back.
Afterward, head down to Summerland Beach to relish in the fresh sea air. Then, head back to Santa Barbara for clean and delicious plant-based dinner at Mesa Verde. If you still have some energy and want to connect with the cosmos, take a drive out to Camino Cielo off Highway 154 to do some stargazing.
Start your final day with a Matcha at Green Table and pick up a wrap to-go for your Gaviota Hot Springs hike. Drive north on the 101 towards Gaviota State Beach and enter “Gaviota Park Boundary Road, Goleta, CA 93117” into your GPS to locate the parking area at the trailhead. The springs are just a half-mile from the trailhead, so if you’re not hiking all the way up to Gaviota Peak, it’s a relatively easy round trip loop that takes 45-minutes. The top pool is ideal for soaking in the healing mineral-rich waters.
Head back to Santa Barbara to plant yourself at West Beach to chillax for the remainder of the day. Let The Cabanas take care of all of your beach-going needs. The beach rental company will outfit you with a cabana, umbrellas and chairs—plus Turkish towels, beach games, sunblock and snacks. This is the VIP way to go for a stress free day at the beach, and two-hour packages start at an affordable $25.
To cap off your wellness weekend, book yourself an early evening massage appointment at a day spa like Float Luxury Spa or one of the many divine full-service hotel spas. Let your therapist knead you into a puddle of bliss as you let the benefits of the past few days settle into your mind, body and spirit.