Holiday travel's down this year, but with every economic downturn comes new eco opportunity! Now's the time to take those short vacations to cute destinations near you -- especially since so many places are offering great discounts this season!

In fact, some of these discounts are tied into eco-friendly vacationing practices. Zach Behrens at LAist, who recently took a trip to Santa Barbara, points out that Amtrak-ing it to this cute town not only makes for a scenic trip -- but for great hotel discounts! "Over 20 area hotels have discounts to car-free travelers," Zach writes, "many of which offer complimentary shuttle service to and from the train station."

These great deals come courtesy of Santa Barbara Car Free, a Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District program aimed at getting people out of their cars to enjoy the great Southern California weather. Check out the website to get all the info you'll need for a car-free vacation, from car-free maps to car-free promotions to bicycling tours.

Of course, you can't forget about Santa Barbara's great wineries -- some of which are organic! Visitors can sign up for a Sustainable Vine Wine Tour or the Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours. A few spots to drop by are the organic-certified Alma Rosa Winery in Buellton, the organic and biodynamic Beckmen Vineyards in Santa Ynez, and the organic-certified Sunstone Vineyards in Santa Ynez.

Best part about going car-free? You won't have to worry about assigning designated driver duties. Drive not, drink happy!

Photo of Beckmen Vineyards by Siel

Santa Barbara: Visit car-free for the best discounts
Take the Amtrak to Santa Barbara for a scenic ride -- and for great hotel discounts.