The Stranger Side of Santa Barbara

Tourist attractions have always been… well, touristy. Although walking down the pier in the sun and cramming a hot dog in your mouth can be entertaining, there’s a stranger side of Santa Barbara that is frequently neglected by most of our visitors. At Marina Beach Motel, we believe that the city of Santa Barbara is the sum of its whole parts, so we want to mention the off-beat and the absurd.


For years, Himalayan salt has been praised for its health benefits. Regulating the water content in your body, promoting a healthy pH balance and regulating blood sugar, it is believed that Himalayan salt can actually reduce the signs of aging.

While there has been plenty of talk about why you should eat Himalayan salt, it’s not often that you have someone telling you about the health benefits of breathing it.

At Salt, there are two underground Himalayan salt caves designed exactly for that use. Guests at Salt are told to wear comfortable clothes and to remove their socks and shoes. Kept at 72 degrees and 40% humidity, this dry microclimate is ideal for an atmosphere of contemplation and healing.

Salt not only offers a variety of yoga and tai chi classes but also serves as a meditative sanctuary that cultivates peace and balance. Cave sessions are available on the hour, every hour, lasting 45 minutes in total. When the session begins, guests relax on mats or recline in zero-gravity chairs, discarding their worries and basking in the comfort of the cave. The atmosphere is naturally saturated with micro-particles of salt that are then absorbed through the skin and deep into the lungs throughout the session.

How often is it that you have the opportunity to soak up the salt in a Himalayan salt cave? It’s possible that you might be really thirsty afterward, but we can’t say for sure.

Ojai Jail

Alright, so we may be recommending that you go to the Ojai Jail because it’s so close to the Cold Spring Tavern, a Santa Barbara staple, but the Ojai Jail has a certain kind of mystery about it. Once featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,” the Ojai Jail has come a long way (literally) and is the only jail that has ever crossed a mountain, traveling over 47 miles from Ojai to Cold Spring Tavern.

Built-in 1873 by the Ojai sheriff, Andrew Van Curen, the Ojai Jail once resided in Mr. Van Curen’s backyard. As you might expect, the jail barely resembles anything used in modern-day incarceration methods and instead looks more like a small cottage or an outhouse.

According to Ojai Jail history, Mr. Van Curen created this homemade jail by taking 4-inch boards that were one inch thick, laying them atop one another, and then nailing them together with iron spikes placed one inch apart. It housed two separate cells; one that held up to 7 people, and another that held up to 4.

The Ojai Jail is a great opportunity to see a unique part of California’s history while enjoying some classic, home-style food from Cold Spring Tavern. We’ll have to admit – it can even be a little spooky.

The Immortal Hand of Jerry Garcia 

Yep, you read it right.

Deadheads, rejoice! Santa Barbara is home to an 18-inch-tall status of Jerry Garcia’s hand. And, like Garcia, the statue is quite obviously missing most of its middle finger.

Sitting outside the Barbara Bowl, artist Scott Brittingham created the statue in honor of Garcia and gave it as a donation (along with $1,000,000) to the bowl. He felt that a statue of Garcia’s hand was “a far more creative thing to do than naming something for yourself,” and hopes that it will someday become some sort of shrine for the late Garcia.

Weird? Maybe. Awesome? Most definitely.