Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Eco Travel Guide to Santa Barbara: Explore the American Riviera


From plant-based cuisine to sustainable wine tours, Santa Barbara is the perfect travel destination spot for any eco-tourist.

Nestled in between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara deserves a spot on the list of the top wonders of the world. 

Known as the American Riviera, the charming coastal city, which is located less than 100 miles north of Los Angeles, has it all — beautiful sandy beaches, scenic views, and a culture that’s rich with Mediterranean influences, from the architecture down to the food. 

But the sun-drenched beach town — home of the world’s first Earth Day celebration — is also the perfect destination spot for any eco-tourist. Here’s how to plan the perfect Santa Barbara getaway.

Where to stay

Ritz-Carlton Bacara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara

Enjoy a quiet, relaxing stay at the plush, 78-acre oceanfront Mediterranean-style resort with two miles of secluded beach, three infinity saltwater pools, farm-to-table dining, and a world-class spa. Like all Ritz-Carlton properties, sustainability is a core focus at the Bacara.

The chain’s multi-discipline, Ritz-Carlton Environmental Action Conservation Teams (REACT) use a framework of environmental strategies to identify sustainability projects at each property. To achieve energy and water reduction goals, the Ritz-Carlton uses Energy and Environmental Action Plans as a best practice audit tool for lighting, appliances, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and central plant conservation and efficiency.


The Ramada by Wyndham Santa Barbara 

According to Wyndham Santa Barbara, it has “attained the highest level available for green practices” and is “voluntarily committed to green initiatives and environmental consciousness.” So indulge in a little getaway with a stay that’s as luxurious as it is eco-conscious, including a dip in The Ramada’s pool, which is heated by solar panels. 


Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

With 360 rooms, this eco-certified resort is located one mile away from the Funk Zone district, an eclectic neighborhood that features art galleries, wine-tasting rooms, eateries, breweries, and more. In addition to its terrace restaurant, tennis courts, and spa, the resort’s eco-certifications include meat-free meals and a food waste reduction program.  

Hotel Milo

Hotel Milo Santa Barbara

Featuring 122 quaint rooms, this two-story, boutique hotel is located just steps away from the picturesque West Beach and the harbor. You can rest assured knowing that your stay will be a sustainable one. 

Helmed by Independent Collection, the group is no stranger to blending sustainability and luxury, offering eco-friendly amenities like energy-efficient lighting, in-room recycling programs, electric vehicle charging stations, and even offers “green” options for its meeting rooms. 

Where to eat


A Montecito charmer, Oliver’s offers healthy vegan cuisine, organic juices, and cocktails. The entirely plant-based menu has something for everyone. Enjoy indoor and outdoor dining, or plant yourself at the cocktail bar. This is the perfect farm-to-table fine-dining spot.

Satellite Wine Bar

A farm-to-table vegetarian wine bar, Satellite is focused on organic, local produce, and natural wine that’s made with organically or biodynamically grown wine. From smoked mushrooms to stuffed tacos, the food’s fresh, exciting, and full of flavor.

Green Table

Featuring a matcha bar and on-site juicing, Green Table’s nutritious offerings are sure to please both vegans and non-vegans alike. The eatery offers a number of vegan and raw menu items that feature organic and locally-sourced ingredients. 

Sip on a matcha chai, dig into a colorful, fresh salad, or chow down on something more hearty like a veggie stir fry or a raw veggie wrap. Just make sure you save some room for dessert.

Mesa Verde

On the outskirts of the city center is the brunch must, Mesa Verde, a beloved local spot with a robust, unique menu that’s filled with organic, modern cuisine. A focus on Mediterranean fare, the menu also features tacos with Impossible meat, salads, and much more.

What to do

Santa Barbara
Courtesy Tran Nguyen | Unsplash

Natural attractions

Spend a day sightseeing at all of Santa Barbara’s natural wonders, including its array of sandy beaches, from the dog-friendly Arroyo Burro Beach to the popular surfing spot of Leadbetter Beach. 

Revel in the city’s wondrous wilderness areas and hidden gems like its four captivating waterfalls, or take a relaxing stroll through Labyrinth Trail at the University of California Santa Barbara’s Lagoon Island.

Courtesy Sven Wilhelm | Unsplash

Sustainable wine tour

Santa Barbara is a sustainable wine mecca. So a trip to this seaside city wouldn’t be complete without some time spent wine tasting. Whether you want to visit a private winery or a rolling vineyard estate, Sustainable Wine Tours has everything you need to sip responsibly.

Courtesy Lotusland

Explore the botanical gardens

After a day spent on Santa Barbara’s sunny beaches, take a trip over to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, which “invites you to explore the wonder of California all within a day’s visit,” according to its website. 

Learn about all of the native plants the region has to offer, or explore the garden’s unique features, from the Mission Dam to the Pritzlaff Conservation Center Gallery and the Meadow Pond.

Got a severe case of wanderlust? Head up to Napa Valley. And for a guide to some of the best eco-hotels the world has to offer, click here.

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