No other town does luxury or exudes an effortlessly chic vibe like Montecito. Walk among the stars, live a life of leisure, and learn a few things about what makes Santa Barbara so special with a getaway (or two) in this tucked-away seaside haven.
While the Montecito area is home to great restaurants and shopping, its natural assets are the real stars of the show. Lace up your hiking boots and head outdoors to the hills of Montecito, where on a clear day you’ll find epic views from the city of Santa Barbara to the Channel Islands and beyond. With over 15 different trails and a plethora of flora and fauna, the hiking in Santa Barbara ranges from easy nature walks to challenging climbs.
Montecito is home to some of the area’s most stunning stretches of coastline, from Fernald’s Point, past the calm waters of Miramar Beach and renowned surf break at Hammonds Point, to sparkling Butterfly Beach. Stand-up paddlers and surfers vie for waves, and sailboats sleepily bob against their moorings offshore. At Butterfly Beach, dogs are permitted on-leash, and its west-facing direction makes this swath of sand a perfect spot to soak in the sunset.
Enjoy the many wonderful beaches of Montecito, (you’ll find a list here), then come visit Montecito. Our Montecito Travel guide has all your answers to start planning your Montecito vacation. Just keep reading 🙂
Montecito Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Montecito is from March to May or from September to November. Temperatures are fairly mild year-round, hovering in the 60s and 70s, but traveling in early spring or fall ensures you won’t be fighting crowds and rates will be less expensive. Summer welcomes most of the city’s annual events and it’s also peak season if you’re looking for a beach vacation, but you’ll have to contend with more crowds. If you’re traveling during the winter months, make sure to pack an umbrella because Santa Barbara sees most of its rainfall between December and February. No matter when you decide to visit, pack layers as the as morning and late evening temperatures tend to be much cooler than the daytime highs.
Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, purchased the Montecito, California estate in 1941 and spent the next 43 years creating Lotusland, which is now recognized as one of the ten best gardens in the world. The spectacular collections of exotic plants throughout the 37-acre property are a very personal expression of Walska’s penchant for the dramatic, the unexpected, and the whimsical. Lotusland is home to several extraordinary plant collections and around each corner there is the unexpected – a surprise of unique garden design and plant species.
Casa del Herrero
When visitors come to the Casa del Herrero estate (House of the Blacksmith), they are transported back to Montecito in the 1920s and 1930s — the heyday of the original owner George Fox Steedman. Designed by George Washington Smith, the Casa is one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places, and maintains National Historic Landmark status in part due to its eclectic mix of Country Place Era and Moorish-inspired gardens.
Butterfly Beach is perfect for romantic strolls. Bring a bottle of champagne and take a seat on the rock wall that lines the upper part of the beach, offering a comfortable vantage point with stunning views (even on not-so-sunny days). Another perk to Butterfly is that it looks west, unlike most of Santa Barbara’s south-facing beaches. That makes it one of the few Californian beaches where you can watch the sun set over the water. Hungry? Parched? Sore? The legendary Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara is just across the street, with a great restaurant, bar and spa that will definitely impress your significant other.
Andree Clark Bird Refuge
The Parks Division manages the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge, a 42-acre open space park that includes a 29-acre lake that is an artificially modified estuary that supports brackish wetlands. Three islands are located in the lake. The park provides passive recreation opportunities such as bird watching, hiking, and biking. Boating and fishing are prohibited, as is feeding the wildlife. The Bird Refuge is a scenic resource with views to and from scenic highways (East Cabrillo Boulevard and Highway 101) and provides a view of aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
A public beach located in front of a gated community in Montecito, Miramar Beach offers beach walking, swimming and surfing. At low tide, this south-facing beach features tide pools for exploration.
Montecito Area Tours & Activities
Private Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara
This private Santa Barbara kayaking tour lets you explore the marine life and landmarks of Santa Barbara Harbor and the spectacular coastline on the ‘American Riviera’ along one of four different routes. Take in views of rugged shoreline cliffs and the Santa Ynez Mountains, and be on the lookout for dolphins and seals. This 1.5- to 2.5-hour tour is led by an experienced kayak guide who points out natural features and customizes the speed of the ride according to your skill level. Read more about Santa Barbara Harbor Private Kayak Tour
Santa Barbara Trolley Tour
All Aboard Santa Barbara’s Original & Longest Running Trolley Tour and Charter Services See the American Riviera in 90 minutes or jump off and on ALL DAY! Santa Barbara sightseeing at its finest on the original, fully narrated Santa Barbara Trolley Tour. Read more about Santa Barbara Trolley Tour
Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour
Explore Santa Barbara by electric bike, covering plenty of ground on a morning or afternoon excursion. Ride your easy-to-use beach cruiser to key landmarks such as State Street and the Santa Barbara Mission as your knowledgeable guide shares the city’s history during this Santa Barbara bike tour. Have your camera ready as you glide along the renowned Pacific coastline. Numbers are limited to five people, ensuring personalized attention and a small-group experience. Read more about Santa Barbara Electric Bike History and Sightseeing Tour
Santa Barbara Wine Tour with Picnic Lunch
See and taste the best the Santa Barbara coast has to offer on this leisurely paced wine tour and picnic lunch. You’ll sip on a variety of wines and visit at four local wineries in the area. Knowledgeable local guide will pick you up anywhere in the Santa Barbara area to begin the tour. Feast on a delicious picnic lunch at one of the wineries while enjoying the scenery of the rolling coastal mountains. Read more about Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Tour, Picnic Lunch
Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour
Walk right past the crowds on this food tour in Downtown Santa Barbara. Your guide leads the way as you pop into seven different restaurants and two wine tasting rooms. Savor dishes and drinks locals have made a staple in their everyday lives, and learn about other places to eat and drink during your stay. If you’re a gluten-free eater or a vegetarian, this tour can also easily cater to your needs. Read more about Santa Barbara Downtown Food Walking Tour with Wine Tasting
Best Montecito Restaurants
Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch $31 – 60
Located on the lush grounds of the San Ysidro Ranch (one of the area’s finest luxury hotels), the Stonehouse is comprised of two main areas. There is a lounge area, complete with full bar, and separate dining room with creek-side views. On temperate evenings, you can enjoy your dinner and gaze at the ocean from the peaceful deck. Their menu emphasizes regional cuisine prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables, harvested from the kitchen’s onsite garden. Reservations are recommended. Telephone: 805-565-1700 Web: Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch.
Lucky’s Above $61
Legendary Lucky’s ensures that diners get the best steaks and chops possible. Terrific ingredients make the difference, and everything is made in-house. Aged Midwestern beef in a variety of cuts draws rave reviews, as do racks of lamb, chops, Maine lobster, fresh fish and hefty shrimp cocktails. The stylish interior boasts black-and-white photos of classic film stars, and an outdoor patio adds to the charm. Well-received and always popular. Sit at the bar, rub elbows with Santa Barbara’s who’s who and order a plate of onion strings and a martini – now that’s an evening well-spent! Telephone: 805-565-7540 Web: Lucky’s.
Trattoria Mollie $31 – 60
This popular establishment not only serves incredible food but offers a bit of star-gazing potential as well, thanks to celebrity regulars. Mollie’s skills are showcased in homemade breads, gelati and pastas (salmon lasagna!), although her hand is just as capable when crafting meat dishes and European-style pizzas. Patrons are constantly impressed by the creative food and inviting ambience, and quality always stands out as paramount. Jackets (and reservations) recommended for dinner. Located right on Coast Village Road, there is ample parking nearby, as well as a nice variety of shops and galleries. Telephone: 805-565-9381 Web: Trattoria Mollie.
Cava Restaurant $11 – 30
A favorite with the locals, their menu features south-of-the-border favorites with a Santa Barbara twist – like locally caught seafood. Every table receives a basket of bottomless chips with house salsas (the black bean salsa is extremely popular). Regulars rave about Cava’s inventive, handcrafted cocktails, like elderflower margaritas and spicy, chili-infused martinis. The cheery dining room features close-set tables, a fireplace, a bar and live music on most nights. Telephone: 805-969-8500 Web: Cava Restaurant.
Tre Lune Ristorante – Bar $31 – 60
From the moment you set foot inside the restaurant, Tre Lune’s mission is clear: each of their patrons will walk away with a classic taste of Italy. And come back, again and again, as their many loyal customers already do. To start with, there is the decor – all warm wood and clean surfaces with nary a dusty grape leaf in sight. Black and white photos of vintage celebrities line the walls. And then there’s the food. Tre Lune’s menu celebrates the different regions of Italy, each dish made with the freshest components, highlighting a prestigious ingredient. Telephone: 805-969-2646 Web: Tre Lune Ristorante – Bar.
Best Montecito Nightlife
The Honor Bar
A happening place to go for small bites and tasty cocktails in Montecito! Hit up the Honor Bar when you feel like catching up with friends – or making new. The social atmosphere at the bar is fun, and the sunny patio is ideal for soaking up the sun over lunch, dinner or drinks. There are lots of tasty appetizers to be had, like deviled eggs, and plenty of wines available by the glass. You can also pick up grab and go pizzas if you’re in a hurry. Located on one of the best shopping streets in the area, and the patio is dog friendly. Telephone: 805-969-6964 Web: The Honor Bar.
Regulars rave about Cava’s inventive, handcrafted cocktails, like elderflower margaritas and spicy, chili-infused martinis. The cheery dining room features close-set tables, a fireplace, a bar and live music on most nights. Telephone: 805-969-8500 Web: Cava Bar.
The stylish interior boasts black-and-white photos of classic film stars, and an outdoor patio adds to the charm. Well-received and always popular. Sit at the bar, rub elbows with Santa Barbara’s who’s who and order a plate of onion strings and a martini – now that’s an evening well-spent! Telephone: 805-565-7540 Web: Lucky’s.
Under Winemaker Bruce McGuire the winery and vineyards have grown in size and prestige producing outstanding wines that are now available throughout the country and exported to Canada, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and now China. The Wine Bistro is both a showcase for these wines and for the culinary art of their Chef. Telephone: 805-969-7520 Web: Wine Bistro.
Best Montecito Hotels
Coast Village Inn
Built in 1935, Coast Village Inn offers a relaxing retreat for family vacations, romantic getaways, and wine-tasting tours. Plan your escape and get ready to relax and unwind on California’s Central Coast. With 28 guest rooms to choose from, we can accommodate nearly any size group.
This property is a 8-minute walk from the beach. Less than a 10-minute walk to the beach, this Santa Barbara area historic boutique inn provides a daily continental breakfast. A flat-screen cable TV is available in all guest rooms. ch room has a DVD player at the Montecito Inn. Built in 1928 by Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin, guests can enjoy the peaceful grounds and on site spa and health club. An outdoor heated pool and hot tub are also included at the Inn Montecito. A fitness center, business center, and same day dry cleaning and laundry services are all available for guest convenience.
Blue Sands Inn
This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. Blue Sands Inn is located in Santa Barbara, 29 miles from Solvang and 24 miles from Ventura. Free private parking is available on site. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Certain rooms include a sitting area where you can relax. You will find a coffee machine in the room. Every room is fitted with a private bathroom. Extras include free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is concierge services at the property. Bike rental is available at this inn and the area is popular for biking.
Harbor View Inn
This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Spa Beaumontia, a full-service spa experience, is available on site at this hotel. Rooms feature a flat-screen TV and a minibar. Stearn’s Wharf is less than a 5 minute walk away. The modern rooms at Harbor View Inn include terry cloth bath robes and free Wi-Fi. A safe and a work desk are also provided. A swimming pool and fitness center, including a sauna, are available for guest relaxation at the Inn Harbor View. A business center and concierge service is both featured for maximum convenience. Shops are in the hotel. Several on site dining options are available at the Harbor View Inn. A poolside bar and grill and State Street Coffee are both featured to give guests quick and easy dining options. Eladios Restaurant and Bar, offering intimate and comfortable dining, features sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. On 20 acres of lush coastal gardens and with a full spa, this beachside retreat features 3 on-site dining options. The guest rooms include Spanish-inspired furnishings and views of the grounds. Thick terry bathrobes are available in the Spanish-tile private bathroom in each guest room at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. A stocked minibar fridge, cable TV and DVD player are also included. Views of the gardens, courtyard, or ocean are available and some rooms feature a private terrace. Bella Vista specializes in organic, Italian-inspired, California cuisine at Biltmore Santa Barbara Four Seasons Resort. Guests can enjoy classic and signature cocktails on an outdoor ocean view terrace or inside by the fireplace at Ty Lounge. Located at the private Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, Coral Cafe and Bar features casual poolside dining and Tydes serves modern cuisine with seafood and Santa Barbara’s best oceanfront views. A daily access fee applies for some room categories. Offering various treatments, a full spa featuring 11 treatment rooms, including 4 suites with relaxing fireplaces and soaking bathtubs, is on site. Guests can enjoy a swim in either the garden pool or the 160 foot lap pool available at the property. Two hard surfaced tennis courts, 1 faux-grass tennis court, and a fitness center are also included.