One perfect day in Goleta, CA

Take a peek inside one of Southern California's most garden-friendly beach towns.
Johanna Silver

Why go now: You may not know that you can pull over in this sleepy Santa Barbara suburb and find farms, flowers, nurseries, and knockout oceanfront picnic spots.

Another surprise: It's ground zero for sustainable gardening in the area.

Not quite a college town: Though it's close to the rowdy UCSB students in nearby Isla Vista, Goleta has a much quieter, surf-loving vibe.

Soil stop: Visit Orella Stewardship Institute (by appointment only, orellaranch.com) for a bag of homemade compost starter. It's chock-full of everything from fungus to seaweed.

Part nursery, part museum: Even if orchids aren't your thing, the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate (1250 Orchid Dr., sborchid.com), on the edge of town is a wow--one and a half acres and thousands of varieties, grown specifically to thrive outdoors.

Wash it down with the locals: Don't judge Hollister Brewing Company ($$, 6980 Marketplace Dr., 805/968-2810) by its home in a mall--the pints are hand-crafted on site. Try the Fairview Farmhouse Ale, a Belgian saison named for Fairview Gardens just up the road.

Field of dreams, Goleta-style: Fairview Gardens is the only spot around where you can wander freely (along with cute goats and chickens) around twelve and a half acres of orchards and freshly planted spring crops. Fairview gets our props both from its organic practices and for paying its farmworkers a living wage. Swing by as often as you want for fruit, veggies, eggs or cut flowers--on the honor system, so just drop your money in the box. 598 N. Fairview Ave., fairviewgardens.org

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