Things to Do in Santa Barbara
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All 78 acres of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are bursting with life. More than 1,000 species of native Californian plants and regional flora line its 5.5 miles of serene, public trails, allowing visitors to witness the overwhelming diversity of the Pacific coastline's plant life. Along with stands of oaks and riparian woodlands, botanical collections inhabit precisely arranged landscapes, echoing the founders' goal from 1926 to create a garden that would "unite the aesthetic, educational and scientific." In 2003, Santa Barbara County rewarded the garden's decades of cultural and scientific contributions, granting County Historic Landmark status to 23 of the acres.
The garden's specimens and displays exist just as much for education as they do for appreciation. Guests can gather landscaping ideas from the Home Demonstration Garden, a cottage surrounded with water-conserving plants. The Japanese Teahouse and Demonstration Garden melds traditional East Asian design with California-native flora. Throughout the grounds, tour guides dispense invaluable information on the displays and the retired tree nymphs that tend them. Additionally, scientific researchers use the facilities in their efforts to both study and conserve numerous rare and endangered species.
1212 Mission Canyon Rd.
In 1917, the Ranger was a sport-fishing yacht—the first built on the West Coast—that hosted celebrities trying their luck at snagging tuna, swordfish, and other swimmers. Flash forward nearly a century, and the Ranger is now a lure, one of several vintage boats that entice visitors to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Inside a former Naval Reserve building, the museum traces the history of the California Coast seas, from cannons to seaplanes and surfing to the environment. The Munger Theater brings the sea to life with films that could feature maritime history or a trip around the coast, and lectures and other events further enrich the experience.
113 Harbor Way, Suite 190
Yasa Yoga’s name comes from the Sanskrit words for “good-hearted,” a reflection of the studio’s noncompetitive, welcoming community of yogis and instructors. They gather to practice in a red-tiled, Mission-style building originally constructed in 1912. Husband-and-wife duo Ryan and Stephanie Besler lead a majority of the classes, accommodating students of all skill levels with a variety of yoga styles. During Yasa Basics classes, students absorb foundational yoga poses and breathing techniques in a naturally lit practice space with 20-foot arched ceilings. Yasa Flow yoga instructors crank up the room temperature to bolster flexibility and teach challenging, inverted moves during workouts suited to intermediate stretchers. Students also gather inside the building—Charlie Chaplin’s former home and production studio—for a variety of other classes such as prenatal, deep-stretch, and flow-style sessions.
Though each course strengthens core muscles and focuses the brain, students also calm their minds with meditation or revel in the camaraderie of like-minded classmates as they learn to control their breathing or tendency to constantly blurt out their credit-card numbers.
22 W Mission St., Suite B
Contra mestre Mariano Silva, a dancer and student of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, has always believed that "if you can walk, then you can dance." This positivity permeates everything he does, from his work with underprivileged youth to his time professionally dancing. It was this contagious optimism that caught the attention of master Amen Santo in Brazil, who invited him to tour globally with the renowned Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. As it turned out, Mariano was a huge hit, playing to sold-out crowds all over the world. His skill and popularity on the stage led Amen to convince him to relocate to Southern California and bring his passion for Afro-Brazilian dance to the States. Today, Mariano owns Capoeira Batuque along with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, sharing his talents and affirmative worldview with adults and children through a slew of classes and community-outreach programs.
Each of contra mestre Mariano's fast-paced classes introduces pupils to the rhythmic techniques and cultural significance of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance forms. Capoeira—considered Brazil's second national sport—fuses martial-arts techniques with the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance. He teaches stylistic combat maneuvers, which weave in aerial acrobatics and various instruments. During his Afro-Brazilian dance class, he'll calibrate students' hips to swivel to movements that fuse traditional African dance with Brazilian moves. He also lets dancers try their hand or fourth toe at banging timbaus, repiniques, and other Brazilian drums in the Brazilian batucada drumming course.
5370 Hollister Ave.
BodyKind Pilates's founder and principle trainer, Jennifer McCandless, has dedicated most of her life to the healing arts. She has spent the last 20 years exploring functional anatomy, biomechanics, yoga, and meditation, and achieved a master’s degree in holistic health and wellness. Entranced by Pilates's innovative blend of Eastern and Western body-healing approaches, she then went on to open her own studio. Here, she and a crew of seasoned instructors foster a noncompetitive community, welcoming students of all fitness levels to practice the strength-developing workout regimen. The bright, private studio is loaded with sticky mats, a collection of specialized equipment, and spandex pants that magically fit everyone. The instructors conduct private and small group classes in the Reformer and mat Pilates styles, helping students build bodily awareness, strengthen their cores, and improve their posture, flexibility, and coordination.
621 Chapala St., Suite D
At Bikram Yoga Santa Barbara, instructors, each of whom was personally certified by Bikram yoga’s eponymous founder Bikram Choudhury, guide students through 26 classic poses in 105-degree heat. The patient teachers accommodate yogis of all skill levels, modifying poses and offering corrections during each class’ 90 minutes of sitting, standing, balancing, and core-strengthening. The sultry heat of the practice space helps melt muscles to make limbs more pliable while summoning sweat, boosting blood flow, detoxifying the body, and soothing soreness from injuries, stress, and overzealous hokey pokeys. To facilitate healing of the body and spirit, students may visit the studio's wellness center, where Shems Heartwell clears energy pathways with Qi Gong, acupuncture, and life-coaching sessions.
3891 State St., Suite 2
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