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 🙂
Weather (Best Time to Go)
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.
During December – February, daytime temperatures range from highs in the mid-60s and drop to lows in the mid-40s at night, which is freezing by Montecito standards. This season is also when the city sees most of its precipitation, which means it’s not ideal for sightseeing or lounging on the beach. But, this also means prices are likely the lowest. Spring (March – May), is one of the best times to see Montecito, before the crowds of summer descend on the city. Temperatures are still mild with highs in the upper 60s and the city will see plenty of sun, making it ideal for seeing the sights. You’ll find pleasant temperatures during June – August averaging in the 70s and hardly any rainfall, summer is peak season in Montecito. This is the time of year when most of the annual events occur in the city, bringing with them more crowds and elevated hotel prices. This is also the time of year locals call “June Gloom” — the foggy season. Crowds have thinned out by early September but high temperatures still hover in the upper 60s to mid-70s, making fall a great time to visit the city. Room rates will also have dropped from their summer highs. Just watch out for the Santa Ana winds, which can be strong this time of year.
Things Not to Miss
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.
Things to Do
Cal Coast Adventures
They offer stand up paddle board Lessons in Santa Barbara as well as Rentals, kayak rentals and tours, Santa Barbara Road Bike Rentals and Tours, Full Suspension Mountain Bike Tours in the mountains above Santa Barbara and in Santa Ynez, Mountain Bike rentals are available as well, kiteboarding lessons, boogie board rentals, surf lessons at many of Santa Barbara’s amazing beaches and surf board rentals as well. For more information call 805-628-2444, or visit them on the web at Cal Coast Adventures.
Santa Barbara Adventure Company
They offer Santa Barbara kayaking & Channel Islands kayaking, surf lessons, wine country tours by van or bike, mountain biking, rock climbing and team building programs. Our knowledgeable and friendly guides offer exceptional service and share with you a side of the Santa Barbara area few visitors ever get to experience. For more information call 805-884-WAVE, or visit them on the web at Santa Barbara Adventure Company.
A boat for all occasions; Luxury cruising aboard, “Azure Seas”, a multi-level 70′ yacht with a full bar. Perfect for Sunset Cruises, Coastal Cruises, Whale Watching and Private Charters leaving from the historic Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara. Enjoy a narrated tour or private charter on the happiest boat in Santa Barbara, Lil’ Toot. For more information call 805-465-6676, or visit them on the web at Celebration Cruises.
Condor Express Whale Watching
There is no better way to see marine wildlife in Southern California than to see it in the ocean from our spectacular boat! The eco-friendly Condor Express gives you a unique opportunity to see Southern California marine wildlife from a completely different angle. Since 1973 the Condor and more recently the Condor Express has been a part of the Santa Barbara waterfront cruising the Santa Barbara Channel. They offer a wide variety of cruises. For more information call 805-882-0088, or visit them on the web at Condor Express Whale Watching.
Paddle Sports Center
The Paddle Sports Center is a premier Kayak | SUP | Surf rental, membership, instruction, and tour center. Explore the waterfront & view sea birds, sea lions, seals, dolphins, and even whales! We provide instruction and comfortable/quality gear. Their rental rates are the best in town and their local guides are extremely knowledgeable about the area. For more information call 805-617-3425, or visit them on the web at Paddle Sports Center.
Best Rated Restaurants
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Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch
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. For more information call 805-565-1700, or visit them on the web at Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch.
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! For more information call 805-565-7540, or visit them on the web at Lucky’s.
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. For more information call 805-565-9381, or visit them on the web at Trattoria Mollie.
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. For more information call 805-969-8500, or visit them on the web at Cava Restaurant.
Tre Lune Ristorante – Bar
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. For more information call 805-969-2646, or visit them on the web at Tre Lune Ristorante – Bar.
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. For more information call 805-969-6964, or visit them on the web at 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. For more information call 805-969-8500, or visit them on the web at 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! For more information call 805-565-7540, or visit them on the web at 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. For more information call 805-969-7520, or visit them on the web at Wine Bistro.
Coast Village Inn
Located in beautiful Santa Barbara, California, Coast Village Inn offers guests the ideal combination of comfort, location, and affordability. Built in 1935, Coast Village Inn offers a quaint and relaxing retreat for family vacations, romantic getaways, and business trips. Plan your escape and get ready to relax and unwind on California’s Central Coast. With 27 guest rooms to choose from, we can accommodate nearly any size group. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Coast Village Inn.
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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit Montecito Inn.
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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Blue Sands Inn.
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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Harbor View Inn.
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. For more information, pricing, or to reserve your room, visit the Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore.