The church at Mission Santa Barbara—famous for its twin bell towers.
Photo By Stephen Williams
With bountiful California sunshine, organic produce available year-round, and a multitude of outdoor activities—whale watching, sea kayaking, biking—Santa Barbara is the perfect city to get in tune with nature and yourself. Schedule a visit during Old Spanish Days Fiesta (August 4–8), a local tradition featuring parades, a mariachi festival, and Mexican mercados.
Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens
This conservation-minded garden acquaints visitors with more than 1,000 species of rare and endangered native California plants.
1212 Mission Canyon Road. (805) 682-4726; SBBG.org
Lined with palm trees and featuring wharf views, East Beach is the most popular sandy spot for swimming, surfing, or volleyball. Traveling with your pooch? Butterfly Beach, located farther south, is more dog friendly than most.
A thirty-mile side trip into Santa Ynez wine country takes you to Sunstone Vineyard, an all-organic estate where you can sample cabernet, syrah, and sauvignon blanc.125 Refugio Road, Santa Ynez. (805) 688-9463; SunstoneWinery.com
Chef Edie Robertson emphasizes organic produce, free-range poultry, and unique flavors in her international menu. 134 E. Cañon Perdido. (805) 965-7922; SojournerCafe.com
Miro at Bacara
At this beachside oasis, you’ll find gourmet cuisine bursting with flavor from the organic vegetables grown on site.
8301 Hollister Avenue. (805) 571-4204; BacaraResort.com
El Capitan Canyon
Book a cedar cabin or safari tent at this eco-lodge overlooking the ocean. The resort utilizes solar energy and salvaged timber.
11560 Calle Real. (866) 352-2729; ElCapitanCanyon.com
The spa offers both Eastern and Western therapies and yoga. 350 Chapala Street. (805) 730-7303; AviaSpa.com.
For more information, contact the Santa Barbara Visitor’s Bureau: (800) 676-1266; SantaBarbaraCA.com.