Santa Barbara Gift Guide

locally made gift guide

Santa Barbara is an ideal place to embrace the “shop small” ethos thanks to our abundance of well-curated independent boutiques clustered in pedestrian-friendly retail districts. Not only will you support homegrown businesses and talented artisans, you’ll be considered “the best gift-giver ever” when you treat your loved ones to unique one-of-a-kind finds and thoughtfully selected mementos with Santa Barbara roots. This guide will steer you to shops that can only be found on The American Riviera® as well as premier purveyors of Santa Barbara’s signature style and some delectable Central Coast treats. Fair warning:  you’ll definitely be tempted to pick up a few things for yourself along the way!

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Heritage Brands

Surf in style with legend Al Merrick and Channel Islands Surfboards. Photo Credit: Instagram @cisurfboards

Santa Barbara has long attracted innovators and cultivated creators, and as a result some notable global brands were launched in The American Riviera®. One of the most revered and successful surfboard shapers in the world, Al Merrick’s Channel Islands Surfboards is one such brand that started here in 1969. The flagship Channel Islands Surfboards retail store (36 Anacapa Street) is located in The Funk Zone and carries exclusive Santa Barbara branded apparel—from baby onesies and men’s and women’s t-shirts to hats and sweatshirts—along with surfboards and accessories.

SeaVees is another longtime Santa Barbara staple. The maker of a classic canvas sneaker that debuted in 1964, SeaVees re-launched 40 years later with contemporary interpretations of the original style for men and women. They recently opened a Santa Barbara retail store in The Funk Zone (24 E Mason Street) where you can get to know the people behind the brand while stocking up on fashionable kicks.

Keep cozy with the classic UGG this winter. Photo Credit: Instagram @ugg

A major player in the footwear category also headquartered locally, Deckers Brands made its mark in 1973 with the Deckers rainbow flip flop. Today, the company designs and sells fashion and performance lifestyle brands with an emphasis on outdoor and active living:  Ugg Australia, Teva, Sanuk and Hoka One One. You can visit the Deckers Brand Showcase (6601 Hollister Avenue) in Goleta to shop all of their brands under one roof and explore their innovation lab. If you don’t want to get charged for an overweight suitcase on your return home, they’ll even ship anything you purchase onsite free of charge.

Fashion Mavens & Havens

Shop the latest and greatest fashion styles at DIANI Boutique. Photo Credit: Instagram @dianiboutique

Ladies in the market for clothing and accessories that capture the effortless elegance of Santa Barbara’s laid back style should get started at Diani Boutique. Located in Arlington Plaza (134 State Street), the fashion boutique was opened in 2002 by British expat Caroline Diani, who later added separate Diani Shoes and Diani Living stores while building a strong online retail presence. The brick-and-mortar stores have a relaxed, beach-y vibe that invites browsing the racks stocked with European and American designers.

Wendy Foster is a Santa Barbara retail legend synonymous with Santa Barbara style—she’s been in business with her husband Pierre Lafond for more than 40 years and together their local empire encompasses six boutiques, a cafe and two wineries. Her four signature Wendy Foster women’s clothing boutiques are located in Montecito (516 San Ysidro Road), downtown (833 State Street) and Los Olivos (2928 San Marcos Avenue). The more youthful leaning Angel (1221 Coast Village Road) sits in the heart of Montecito’s main street. And Upstairs at Pierre Lafond (516 San Ysidro Road) carries home décor, eclectic gifts and art along with a well-edited selection of children’s and men’s clothing.

Denim on denim on denim at Loveworn. Photo Credit: Instagram @lovewornsb

Up-and-coming women’s ready to wear clothing designer Catherine Gee captures Santa Barbara’s no-fuss attitude in her expanding collection of silk dresses, tailored tops and sweaters that have caught the attention of trusted global fashion authorities like Vogue and WWD. The trained artist and former director of The Arts Fund is based in The Mill (414 E Haley Street) where you can catch her at work and shop the collection weekdays 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or by appointment on weekends.

A new addition to the Funk Zone, Loveworn (11 Anacapa Street) is a partnership reborn between designer Jill Johnson and artist Wallace Piatt who have a long history together as purveyors of vintage denim. Stop by the punk rock outpost to shop for vintage denim, customized jackets and screen-printed tees. They’ll even repair or modify your own denim goods to bring new life to your beloved threads.

Accessorize It

Custom, handmade and one-of-a-kind leather goods from Make Smith Leather Co. Photo Credit: Instagram @nancyneil

In the accessories department, Kendall Conrad is a Santa Barbara native world renowned for her hand-crafted jewelry and leather handbags. You can shop her collection at the intimate Kendall Conrad (1024 Coast Village Road) store in Montecito Country Mart, one of the brand’s only two dedicated boutiques. Family owned and operated Make Smith Leather Co. (135 East De La Guerra Street) evolved from the Soria family’s saddlery business established in 1950 and now the third generation leather artisan Steven Soria makes belts, wallets, bags, key chains, home wares and much more from their MakeSmith workshop and retail store in the Presidio District downtown. They host regular workshops if you’re interested in making your own bracelet, belt or tote for yourself or a special someone.

Head to Seaside Makers Collective (209 Anacapa Street) co-op to browse the delicate, ocean-inspired Jules By The Sea jewelry collection. Or, treat your skin to a hydrating experience with The Grapeseed Company, an organic skin care line created from the byproduct of wine, which uses the natural “trash” our local wine country provides. While you’re there, peruse neighboring vendors like  The Shopkeepers (137 Anacapa Street), another Funk Zone collective concept where you can pick up locally designed goods from brands like Saltura (coastal-inspired men’s apparel and accessories) and Waxing Poetic (jewelry for women and men).

Last but not least, Riviera Towel Company (17 W. Gutierrez Street) is a homegrown local gem of a boutique dedicated to impossibly soft, premium Turkish towels. The perfect travel companion for beach-y vacations and days spent alfresco, Turkish towels are versatile and dry quickly.

A Taste of Santa Barbara

Celebrate the season with glitter covered wine bottles from Riverbench Vineyards & Winery. Photo Credit: Instagarm @vanessabolden

The options are endless when it comes to consumable culinary goods made in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara County wine is always a crowd pleaser, and with more than 200 wineries in the region you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the perfect vintage. Consider purchasing magnums or sparkling wines (like Riverbench’s glitter-dipped bottles of bubbles) to make a big impression, or sign up for a wine club membership to initiate special deliveries throughout the year. Beer connoisseurs can collect bottles or growlers of favorite brews from Santa Barbara’s dozens of craft breweries.

Stock your bar—or that of the cocktail aficionado in your life—with Cutler’s Artisan Spirits’ small batch bourbon, gin, vodka, whiskey or apple pie liqueur distilled in downtown Santa Barbara. Cutler’s also carries Santa Barbara-based Pacific Pickle Works products (as do several other local markets) including savory cocktail mixers like pickle brine and michelada shrub and pickled veggies to garnish.

Give the gift (and taste) of Santa Barbara with Santa Barbara Gift Baskets Photo Credit: Instagram @sbgiftbaskets

On the sweet side, Jessica Foster Confections handmade chocolate truffles come in unique flavors perfectly packaged for gifting. Several markets (Lazy Acres and Whole Foods included), wineries, gift shops and hotels carry her divine creations. Twenty-Four Blackbirds is a “bean-to-bar” SB chocolate specialist whose truffles, single origin chocolate bars and drinking chocolate kits can be found in coffee shops and markets around town.

Santa Barbara Gift Baskets is a one-stop-shop for many of these locally made products and then some. Stop by their Goleta store to hand-pick items like Santa Barbara Bar, Santa Barbara Olives, Santa Barbara Popcorn Company, Santa Barbara Pistachios, A Taste of Santa Barbara Salts & Spices, Jilli Vanilli and local libations for a beautifully assembled gift basket. They stock more than consumables with health and wellness products like Santa Barbara Soap and the Santa Barbara Grapeseed Co. line also on offer—plus cookbooks by local authors. Of course, they ship and you can place your orders from their online store once you get home, too.