Year-round climate perfect for producing savor fruits and veggies? Check. The ocean on one side and beckoning mountain trails on the other? Check. A community that’s long been committed to sustainability and is the proud founder of the first Earth Day celebration? Check! It’s no secret that Santa Barbara’s South Coast is an Earth-lovers paradise. As a local with a bent for sustainability and all things eco, I’m looking forward to celebrating Santa Barbara’s green scene in March and April during Ecotopia—two months of recognizing the area’s unique sustainable aspects—because, when you live in a place as beautifully bountiful as SB, celebrating the Earth takes more than a day.
Follow Ecotopia on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and FourSquare for weekly updates or use my quick guide to making the most of Santa Barbara’s inviting Earth-friendly activities while lowering your carbon footprint at the same time.
- As a seafood lover, an occasional trip to the weekly Santa Barbara Fish Market (Saturdays in the Harbor from 7:00am – 11:00am) is a must. Fishermen are encouraged to harvest sustainably and the local catch means less oil and gas to transport. If you’d rather dine out, look for Ty Warner Sea Center’s Sustainable Food Program Member stickers on storefront windows.
- Imbibe! Microbreweries and wineries aren’t typically the first stops that come to mind when stepping toward a lower carbon footprint, but when you’re in Santa Barbara, grabbing a local brew or glass of wine are great ways to support a more sustainable lifestyle. Our six local microbreweries not only produce tasty products, enjoying a drink at the source means your ale didn’t spend days on a truck to get here. And when it comes to wine, Santa Barbara and the surrounding wine country are quick to offer many organic options.
- Hit the trail for some two-wheel fun. A road cyclist myself, I opt for the serene back roads of Hope Ranch and wide shoulders overlooking the Pacific, but mountain bikers are quick to find Nirvana in the single track surrounding Santa Barbara. Both offer a kinder-than-car way of taking in the surrounding views.
- Coming for a visit? Going car-free is made easy in SB and if you haven’t taken the train in a while, I highly recommend a trip on the Amtrak® Pacific Surfliner® —save 20% when you purchase a ticket for travel to or from all nine Amtrak stations to Santa Barbara County!—where you can sit back and relax before arriving at the Santa Barbara train station, conveniently located right down town. Once you’re here, public transportation is all around.
- Go locavore. Fresh seafood isn’t my only weakness; I’m a sucker for the area’s incredible bounty of farm-to-fork cuisine. Stop by one of six weekly farmers markets for fresh, organic, locally-sourced food and artisan goods or visit one of the many restaurants that have embraced locavore menus.
- Earth Day Festival: It’s true, but not surprising given all of the eco-inspiration, that Santa Barbara was home to the country’s first Earth Day celebration back in 1970. The tradition continues today with a two-day celebration on April 21st and 22nd in Alameda Park. Hosted by the Community Environmental Council, this classic event features a Green Car Show, Green Shorts Film Festival, Kid’s Corner, live music and a wide variety of vendors. Admission is free so come help us celebrate!
If you’re looking to go a little greener this spring, there’s no better place to do it than in Santa Barbara. Celebrate your Ecotopia with some classic, coastal fresh-air fun.