by Anne Dimon,
Santa Barbara, California is not promoting itself as a wellness destination but it could.
Sandwiched between ocean and mountains and located about a three-hour drive from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara – the city that feels more like a town – has everything a wellness-mined traveller could want – nature, beautiful weather, peace and quiet, numerous yoga studios, options for cycling, kyaking and hiking, culinary excursions and great restaurants serving fresh, local and seasonal offerings.
And, while the walkable city does not offer a “destination spa” it does offer spa treatments and therapies such as those at the Salt Cave – a man made facility and the largest salt cave in North America – plus there is a full menu of services at Alchemy Spa Wellness as well as at several other local spas.
It’s also a great walking city with superb shops and boutiques for indulging, should one wish, in retail therapy. For instance, a good-for-the-planet consignment store called Renaissance is definately worth a visit.
For those wanting to mix a little culture into a wellness vacation, there’s an opera house, museum, sympony and ballet all easily accessible in the compact downtown core. In the nearby town of Goleta there is a Monarch butterfly sanctuary.
On my Wellness Travel Tour 2014, I was in the city just two days and it wasn’t long enough.
There are a variety of hotels here in various price categories including Harbor View Inn, one of the longest established beachfront lodging properties in Santa Barbara and very well located.
The lively downtown area – with its numerous shops, cafes, restaurants, yoga studios and a local farmers’ market – is a 10-minute walk away, and the working harbour, beach and oceanfront cycling path is directly across the street. You’ll appreciate the fact that kayaking, cycling and hiking are also all easily accessible.
There is a small but pleasant spa on the property – with two treatment rooms, a dry sauna and whilpool – but it’s more of an amenity than a full-serve facility. Named after the Beaumontia – a trumpet-shaped flower that grows on the property – The Spa Beaumontia is the closest spa to the ocean in this city.