Conscious City Guide: Santa Barbara & Montecito

One of the prettiest cities due to its natural splendor and Spanish-revival architecture, Santa Barbara is one of my go-to weekends away. It offers an abundance of ways to move, nourish, and care for the body and soul. Here are my faves:


Oliver’s Montecito
A plant-based restaurant with a fine dining feel. The share plates are phenomenal.

Loquita Santa Barbara

One of my favorite restaurants in Southern California, Loquita sources its produce locally. And this lively Spanish restaurant is open later than most in Santa Barbara (probably due to its popular cocktails).

Ethical, regeneratively farmed, and locally sourced ingredients make this vegetarian restaurant a must for kindful eaters.

This millennial pink Montecito delight serves light bites, breakfast, and lunch.

Farmers’ Markets
The Farmers’ markets are some of the best in SoCal. The Tuesday market on State Street has 50+ vendors & vibes from the nearby bars and restaurants. The Saturday market on Cota street is probably more popular. Pick up a coffee from nearby Dune & peruse the stalls of fresh fruit, nuts, honey & veg.

Health + Fitness

Sol Seek Yoga
As a longtime fan of Divintree Yoga, with its gorgeous murals and excellent classes, I was disappointed to discover it closed… until I saw how the space has transformed into Sol Seek. It’s lighter, brighter, more modern, yet still has excellent classes.

Yoga Soup
The city’s center of conscious events, Yoga Soup offers ecstatic dance, sound baths, kirtan, and of course, yoga.

The Lab
Get your fitness assessed and optimized at this biohacking hub. The Lab offers cryotherapy, Normatec recovery, anti-gravity treadmills, IV therapy & a gym.

Santa Barbara Trapeze
A fun way to jump off your comfort zone and workout your upper body, Santa Barbara Trapeze offers daily lessons, positive attitudes, and community.

Atwill Pilates 
Our co-founder Mel’s favorite pilates, ever. Atwill offers classical reformer pilates with precise technique to condition and strengthen the body with grace and efficiency. There’s no modern mish-mash cardio pump-up pilates here. Founder Colleen is also one of the creators of the Beautiful Nomad retreats you sometimes see here on this site. Simple, pure pilates that makes you sweat.


Float Luxury Spa
Float is an oasis in downtown Santa Barbara. I loved their radiance wrap.

Sense Rosewood Spa
Miramar Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in California, so the location of this spa is half of the experience. Come early to relax in their pools and sauna before your treatment.


You’ll find rooms with exceptional views at Bacara, which was until recently a Ritz-Carlton. This resort sits along the mesa between Santa Barbara and El Capitan, offering access to endless beaches and walking trails, making for a natural getaway.

The Drift Hotel is a modern minimalist sanctuary in the center of town, walking distance to everything. It has a variety of rooms to suit solo travelers and large families.

Hotel Californian and Palihouse are both beautifully designed and pet friendly, the former adding extra dog comfort by providing beds and water bowls.

Palihouse Santa Barbara


Monarch Butterfly Grove
Every year, monarch butterflies migrate, arriving in Santa Barbara between November through February. You can see them at this grove, open sunrise to sunset and entirely free. 

Santa Barbara Zoo
This conservation-minded zoo is an open space with kinder enclosures (you can see the giraffes walking about outdoors from Cabrillo Road.) The zoo who also works to protect the local condors and foxes.

Leadbetter Point and El Capitan are excellent spots to find waves.

Hot Springs
There’s many hot springs within an hours drive of Santa Barbara. My favorite are the Montecito Hot Springs with its milky blue pools. In the hot summer, Gaviota Springs stays a lovely 80 degrees.

This garden sells out early, so reserve far in advance to see creative topiaries, ponds, and 3,400 different types of plants.

Lotusland’s Topiary Garden. Photography by: Kim Baile. via

Upcoming Events

Events Near You