Travel is an opportunity to reset and reflect, away from the frenetic pace of our daily lives. And Santa Barbara is the perfect destination to do just that. Blessed with beautiful beaches and framed by the nearby rolling hills of wine country, this idyllic stretch of California’s coastline lets you reconnect with nature, savor simple pleasures, or just take some “me” time. Being so close to the beach brings about a sense of ease that instantly puts you at peace—a feeling helped along by the rows of neatly planted grapes at the many nearby vineyards. Take a weekend to explore Santa Barbara’s one-of-a-kind landscape and you’ll find warm hospitality, quiet places to appreciate, and an unexpected abundance of wildlife.
Free Ways to Free Your Mind
From motivating sunrises to soulful sunsets, Santa Barbara is filled with free ways to find your inner peace. Start your morning with a mind-clearing stroll down the dog-friendly Arroyo Burro Beach (which locals have nicknamed Hendry’s Beach) and set your intention for the day, or go for a run along the shoreline—with or without your running shoes. Get your stretch on with an impromptu beach yoga session, or head out for a hike on nearby trails. At the end of the day, lay down your blanket on the west-facing Butterfly Beach and watch one of the area’s best sunsets. It’s all free of charge.
Take a Break from Driving with Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
To get to Santa Barbara, consider swapping your road trip for a scenic train journey. Let your weekend begin by traveling on the Pacific Surfliner and avoid the stress of sitting in standstill traffic among other well-meaning urbanites heading out of town. With daily service from San Diego, Orange County, or L.A., the popular Amtrak service offers spacious seats and complimentary Wi-Fi, which means you can stay comfortable and connected while traveling up the coast. There’s also a Café Car where you can satisfy your cravings with sandwiches, salads, and snacks, as well as craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Part of what makes this train trip so special is the jaw-dropping scenery, thanks to tracks that run parallel to the Pacific Coast. In fact, during the final stretches of your journey, you’ll see the ocean on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other. Then, depending on how you want to spend the weekend, you could book a rental car or go completely car-free and enjoy not having to drive anywhere all weekend. You can also show your train ticket for free rides on the electric shuttles that serve State Street and the waterfront. Plus, Santa Barbara is one of the most walkable cities in southern California—and many wine country tours (and other excursions) will pick you up and drop you off anywhere in town.
Paddle Through Sea Caves
For an outdoor adventure filled with peaceful places to explore and find balance, visit Channel Islands National Park, nicknamed “the Galapagos of North America.” Embark on this day trip with convenient excursions departing from Santa Barbara and nearby Ventura. On the boat ride over to the protected wilderness areas, you might spot dolphins and whales; once in the park, keep an eye out for the Channel Islands fox, which is about the size of a cat. Another option is to go kayaking with the local experts of the Santa Barbara Adventure Company and paddle through grottos and arches, including the famous Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island—the second-largest sea cave in North America. Choose between trips for all levels, including the short discovery tour, the popular adventure tour, or the ultimate tour for experienced paddlers. After your kayaking expedition, make the most of your time outdoors by hiking to breathtaking ocean vistas or snorkeling through an underwater kelp forest.
Find Serenity at a Lush Hotel
Enjoy a serene getaway on the grounds of the award-winning Ramada Santa Barbara, where you might be greeted by Abbot and Costello, a pair of friendly “crested” ducks that live amid the property’s lush tropical lagoons. A leafy sanctuary that’s also home to turtles, koi fish, and other ducks, the Ramada is green business-certified by Santa Barbara County Green Business and California Green Business, and gold-certified by Audubon International. Besides the relaxing garden atmosphere, each room has its own private patio or balcony, and the onsite swimming pool features a solar heating system, so you can swim year-round. There are also generous guest perks, like a free continental breakfast, electric car charging stations, and discounts to local restaurants and attractions.
Choose a Package that Aligns with Your Passions
From the moment you arrive, experience the genuine hospitality that defines the Santa Barbara Hotel Group. Whether it’s the Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn uptown, the Best Western Plus Encina Inn & Suites in midtown, or the Brisas del Mar, Inn at the Beach, Lavender Inn by the Sea, and Inn by the Harbor in the waterfront neighborhood, you’ll be right where you want to be. Take the stress out of planning and save money with packages that cater to different interests and lifestyles, like the “Sweet & Salty” package featuring wine, chocolate, and a salt cave meditation session; the “Four Days, Three Nights in Paradise” package; and the family-friendly “Explore & Adore at the Santa Barbara Zoo” package. For more information about Santa Barbara, visit SantaBarbaraCA.com.