Wellness isn’t a trend in Santa Barbara—it’s the natural way of life. So, as a visitor, nurturing your mind, body and soul becomes a pretty effortless feat as soon as you set foot on The American Riviera®. Between the wholesome, regionally-sourced cuisine, inspiring outdoor landscapes and abundant purveyors of all things well and good, there’s a winning self-care regimen for any vacationist in pursuit of a transformative journey. Our friends Monet and James Hambrick of @TheTravelingChild recently road tested this claim and showed us just how good life in Santa Barbara gets. Follow their path with this wellness warrior itinerary, featuring three days of uplifting, rejuvenating and nourishing experiences.
Check into The Ritz-Carlton, Bacara Santa Barbara, a picturesque Spanish Colonial resort nestled on the bluffs on the outskirts of town. The serene, expansive property takes full advantage of its pristine coastal location. You’ll feel ensconced in an oasis of Mediterranean tranquility, with Mother Nature at your doorstep and pampering amenities always within arm’s reach.
Head into town to explore the Santa Barbara Waterfront. Have a seafood-centric lunch at The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. After, rent a Moke at Wheel Fun Rentals and take a spin in the low speed, open air electric vehicle. The cute environmentally-friendly rides are “road safe” for city streets with a 40-mile charge that will enable you to see all the key sights. Drive along Cabrillo Boulevard and out onto Stearns Wharf for the signature American Riviera photo op with the city and mountains in the backdrop. Cruise by the Santa Barbara Harbor, down to East Beach and along Montecito’s Coast Village Road to Butterfly Beach.
After an early evening walk on State Street, make your way to Barbareño. Dinners here go beyond acquainting your palate with Santa Barbara County’s regional flavors. You’ll get an education on the history of Santa Barbara—from its Chumash Native American, Spanish and Mexican eras to becoming a modern day California wine country. All of these influences are reflected in Chef Julian Martinez’s cuisine.
Sated, make your way back to your room at The Ritz-Carlton, Bacara Santa Barbara, where the sound of the waves crashing on the beach below will quickly lull you to sleep.
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Rise, shine and meditate! Start your day with an invigorating dose of shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”), taking a meditative walk along the nature trails at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Bring a lunch for a leisurely picnic on the garden grounds. Upgrade your picnic spread like The Hambricks did, and enlist Santa Barbara Picnic Company to “glam up” your alfresco dining experience to drool-worthy, Instagram-candy standards.
Try another meditative modality, this time with an equestrian twist. Book a horseback ride with Los Padres Outfitters, who will guide you on a ride along the sands of Summerland Beach. No horseback riding experience is necessary—the friendly horses and expert guides instantly put novice riders at ease.
Head back to The Ritz-Carlton, Bacara Santa Barbara for an elegant fine dining feast at the property’s ocean view Angel Oak restaurant. Treat yourself to a bottle of locally produced biodynamic wine from their vast 12,000-bottle collection. (If you’re on property on a Sunday, brunch at the otherwise dinner-only Angel Oak is also a must.)
Keep the good vibes and energy flowing with one of the nature experiences offered as part of the resort’s Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassador of the Environment program designed to introduce guests to the natural wonders and rich cultural history of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. The Eco-Hike option follows the property’s coastal nature trail as expert naturalists explain how the plants and animals adapt to survive in the arid landscape. You’ll also learn how the Chumash survived on the land for thousands of years.
After your hike, make a beeline for The Spa. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to take full advantage of the eucalyptus steam room, redwood sauna and lounges pre- and post-treatments.
For a sublime last supper, head to The Funk Zone for dinner at one of the hottest tables in town, The Lark. Be sure to book a reservation at least a week in advance to ensure you get in at your preferred time. The opportunity to savor Chef Jason Paluska’s innovative seasonal cuisine is worth the extra step!