Santa Barbara is synonymous with romance, making The American Riviera® a standout year-round honeymoon destination. Immediately upon arrival, your senses will naturally be heightened by the tantalizing combination of sights, sounds, and flavors. A timeless getaway with contemporary appeal, Santa Barbara presents an enticing line-up of impeccable resorts, compelling cuisine, locally produced wines, stunning natural landscapes, invigorating outdoor adventures, restorative wellness experiences, inspiring arts and culture, and so much more. Iconic figures like JFK and Jackie O are among those who opted to honeymoon in Santa Barbara over the centuries, and you, too, can join their ranks—be it for a “minimoon” right after your wedding ceremony, a full-blown honeymoon destination holiday, or even a babymoon.
Here’s a guide to help you get started planning a honeymoon for the ages.
Check Into a Romantic Hotel
There’s no need to be coy about the fact that your honeymoon hotel will be getting a lot of use. If you’re going to be spending so much time in said hotel, it should be your first major consideration. From luxury hillside hideaways to beachfront resorts and charming boutique inns, this curated assortment of properties offers a diverse range of environments and budget categories.
For the ultimate indulgence, book the Kennedy Suite at San Ysidro Ranch, a longtime Hollywood hideaway in Montecito. No matter which of their 38 cottages you book, you can rest easy knowing you’ll have complete privacy with no shared walls. Just down the road, the Rosewood Miramar Beach is a classic reborn and Santa Barbara’s only resort right on the sand. Another coastal gem is The Ritz-Carlton Bacara Resort, Santa Barbara, one of our largest hotels set on the bluffs above the beach in Goleta. With Sandpiper Golf Club next door and the resort’s full-service spa, you may never want to leave the resort grounds.
For an extra-Mediterranean feeling escape, El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel serves up epic city and ocean views from its Riviera neighborhood perch above the landmark Mission Santa Barbara. If you want to be right in the heart of the action in the glittering city below, the uber-stylish Hotel Californian will provide a buzzy home base at the gateway to the Funk Zone, waterfront, and downtown Santa Barbara. Similarly “urban” in setting and boutique in style, Kimpton Canary Hotel in the center of downtown just off State Street boasts an A-plus roof deck for swimming pool lounging and sunset cocktails.
For something more inn-timate, check into the chic Palihouse Santa Barbara located in the historic Presidio District. Tucked in a quiet residential neighborhood near the theatre district, The Upham Hotel oozes historic Victorian charm while offering a cozy upgraded B&B experience. Down in the West Beach neighborhood close to the Harbor, Eagle Inn is a low-key Santa Barbara-style property—its casitas with two-person tubs, private balconies, and fireplaces were designed with honeymooners in mind.
Dine Like Royalty
Once you’ve locked in your honeymoon hotel, the next order of business will be to book those dining reservations to ensure you and your love get seats at the best tables in town. Here we give you a short list of some of the most romantic restaurants in the region, where locals and visitors alike often opt to celebrate special occasions. All are big on atmosphere, hospitable service, regionally focused cuisine, and local libations.
The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch is an elegant dream for dining alfresco—and a meal at the Ranch is one of the best ways to experience the property’s special ambiance if you’re not a hotel guest. The Dining Room & Terrace at The El Encanto will blow you away with the sweeping city and sea views stretching out to the Channel Islands offshore. Sleek, dark, and sexy, Angel Oak is a fine dining destination for steak and seafood at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.
Seafood lovers will also find nirvana at Sushi | Bar Montecito. Those lucky enough to claim one of the 10 spots available per seating will get a front-row seat to the chef’s 17-course Omakase experience. Another Montecito staple is Oliver’s, a sophisticated plant-based restaurant that delights vegans. Caruso’s at the Rosewood Miramar will romance you with the sound of the waves crashing and the upscale Italian fare. Tre Lune, Olio e Limone, and Toma are three equally revered Italian restaurants that consistently make best-of lists for their excellent, soulful Mediterranean cuisine and warm service.
Tucked off Canon Perdido Street near the Presidio District, Zaytoon’s Lebanese cuisine is made for sharing while their patio tables ensure you’ll be glowing in the best light. Up the romance ante with the help of Slate Catering, who offer a unique dining experience in their Mobile Bistro—a boho-chic van converted into a mini dining room that can be parked in front of some of the city’s best vantages, giving you your own private restaurant.
Couples that play together, stay together. So, start your marriage off on a playful note with a series of adventures and excursions. Go horseback riding along the sands of Summerland, or through the vineyards in wine country. Book a private boat charter for a day trip to the Channel Islands National Park or a relaxed sunset sail. Splash in the Pacific and see marine life while kayaking, or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding in and around the Harbor.
Let a professional tour guide do the driving on a private wine country day trip, complete with a gourmet picnic lunch, vineyard strolls, and wine tastings with the winemakers. Or rent bikes to pedal around town and have Santa Barbara Picnic Co. stage a romantic lunch for two in a picturesque setting like the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Mission Rose Garden, or Leadbetter Beach.
Pamper yourselves and melt away any residual stress from wedding planning and day-of jitters with quality “us” time at the spa. See our Spa Guide for a round-up of day spas offering a robust array of nurturing services. For evening entertainment, get your creative juices flowing while sipping wine and painting a canvas at The Painted Cabernet. After dark, take in a show at one of our historic theatres. Check out what’s on the calendar of events at the Granada Theatre, Lobero Theatre, or The New Vic. If you’re honeymooning in the summer, your performing arts search should also include the Music Academy of the West and Santa Barbara Bowl.