The royals have officially landed! The Santa Barbara South Coast, Montecito specifically, was crowned the location of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new home. Joining the ranks of Hollywood royalty who call Santa Barbara home (or second home), among their esteemed new neighbors are some of the biggest names in show business. Think Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges, Julia Louis Dreyfus, Brad Pitt, Rob Lowe, Gwyneth Paltrow, and many more actors, filmmakers and TV producers.
There’s something special about Santa Barbara that has long attracted celebrities, royalty and even world leaders, who have flocked to our sun-kissed shores for over a century—some simply come to vacation, while others are so smitten with Santa Barbara’s charms, they plant permanent roots.
So, what exactly is it about The American Riviera® that is so attractive to the likes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex? A handful of key traits make the Santa Barbara South Coast a haven for A-listers.
PEACE, QUIET & PRIVACY
One of the biggest reasons celebrities love Santa Barbara is because they’re able to feel like “regular” people and don’t get hassled by locals or by paparazzi. While the recent arrival of Harry and Meghan considerably ups the ante in our laid-back town, locals will play it cool, keep their distance, and let them live the next chapter of their regal, yet relaxed, coastal lifestyle in relative peace. You won’t find any celebrity home sightseeing tours here. In addition to discretion being respected, the privacy factor is also a big plus. Many of the homes in Santa Barbara’s most upscale enclave of Montecito are hidden from view with large hedges and gates and generous lot size.
LOCATION IS EVERYTHING
While we don’t know for sure, we suspect that Santa Barbara’s beautiful coastal landscape and close proximity to Los Angeles influenced the royals’ decision. Only 90 miles from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara still feels worlds away with its low-key but high-quality lifestyle, abundant outdoor recreation, vibrant arts and culture, and world-class food and wine scene. Santa Barbara is easily accessible, whether they are being whisked away in an SUV or private jet from the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.
Santa Barbara and surrounding cities have just the right mixture of kid and parent-friendly activities to keep children of all ages entertained. We can picture them taking a sunset stroll with baby Archie in tow along the secluded south-facing beaches like Butterfly Beach and Miramar. They can hike in the scenic foothills with plenty of trails at their doorstep such as Cold Spring Trail, Hot Springs Canyon, and San Ysidro Trail.
Royals love equestrian activities, and the family will be able to go horseback riding in the hills or along the beaches. You can’t beat a private trail or beach ride with well-respected, local horseman Graham Goodfield of Los Padres Outfitters. Of course, they will likely attend polo matches (when they resume) at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Harry’s brother Prince William Duke of Cambridge and his wife Kate graced the grounds on their 2011 North American tour.
Speaking of polo, the couple might become fast friends with Andy Busch, great-grandson of the Anheuser-Busch empire, who discovered Santa Barbara years ago when he was the captain of the U.S. polo team and played a match at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Andy is a family man and founded Folded Hills winery, with a tasting room in Montecito and in wine country–the latter is perfect for a family picnic.
Last but not least, once the pandemic is behind us, Archie will be delighted by attractions like Santa Barbara Zoo, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center, and MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.
SWOON-WORTHY DATE SPOTS
The couple will have their pick of romantic settings to keep that newlywed flame alive, whether venturing out on day dates or having an intimate night out in a cozy local hideaway. We think they’ll love the illustrious San Ysidro Ranch resort, where American royalty John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned and many Montecito residents like to dine at Stonehouse and Plow & Angel. They could become regulars at Montecito restaurants and eateries like Caruso’s, Tre Lune, Lucky’s, Bettina, and Sushi|Bar Montecito.
They might take a daycation to nearby Summerland, where they can shop for incredible home interiors and take the dogs to Overlook Park. They can book a private tour of the spectacular Ganna Walska Lotusland, a 37-acre private garden deemed one of the best gardens in the world. Casa del Herrero is another garden estate in the U.S. historic landmarks register, also available to visit by reservation.
SANTA BARBARA GIVES BACK
Due to its high concentration of charitable donors and philanthropic organizations, Santa Barbara is an ideal place for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to continue the philanthropic efforts they are so passionate about. For example, Santa Barbara is home to Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization that’s active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies.
LIKE A LOCAL
As Prince Harry and Megan get acclimated with the laid-back Santa Barbara lifestyle, you, too, can learn to live like a local. The Santa Barbara South Coast is home to eight electric and travel-worthy communities, each with unique sights, sounds, textures, and experiences. Whether you’re wine tasting your way through The Presidio Neighborhood, shopping the seaside havens of Summerland, or exploring the lush garden grounds of Montecito, here’s how you can best explore Santa Barbara’s neighborhoods, like a local.