Montecito is home to the rich and famous—big names like Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Julia Louis Dreyfus and Rob Lowe are among the community’s residents and its most ardent fans. But you don’t have to be a superstar or mega-wealthy to live like a local here. As chef power couple and restaurateurs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee can attest, it’s all about enjoying the hospitable atmosphere, local flavors, and creative cuisine. Montecito abounds with incredible restaurants serving up innovative, delicious fare. It’s also a premium luxury shopping destination, a hub of high-end hotels and an outdoor lover’s paradise. Follow our guide on what to do and where to eat and shop and you’ll be living your very best life like a true Montecito local.
Things to DO
The best way to go “behind the gates” of the Montecito’s magnificent residences is on guided tours of Lotusland and Casa De Herrero. Both are open to the public with advanced reservations. Lotusland is all about the gardens with its collection of 3,000 plants, whereas the National Historic Landmark Casa Del Herrero is a showcase of 1920s-era design and architecture.
The beaches are another top draw, from Butterfly and Hammonds to Miramar. Hiking is a quintessential Montecito “do,” with varying levels of difficulty and duration between Cold Spring Trail, Hot Springs Canyon, San Ysidro Trail and Tangerine Falls. The Vedanta Temple is a peaceful spot for meditation and a stroll. The photogenic Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was established in the 1800s and looks like something straight out of a movie set. The Spa at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara welcomes day visitors and hotel guests alike for pampering treatments. Taste local vintages at the Folded Hills tasting room on Coast Village Road, where you can choose between a tasting flight, wines by the glass or purchase bottles.
places to EAT
Chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas Lee created three distinctive dining experiences in their Montecito Inn portfolio. The most elaborate is The Silver Bough’s 18-course, by-appointment-only fine dining journey inspired by ancient Celtic folklore. Sushi Bar | Montecito delivers a 17-course Omakase experience at the 10-seat chef’s counter. And The Monarch is their signature outpost for rustic fine dining, with a menu of seasonal, regional Central Coast cuisine all cooked over wood. Montecito Country Mart is another dining destination, between fast casual staples like Panino and Little Alex’s to Bettina Pizzeria and Rori’s Artisanal Ice Cream.
Start the day with breakfast at Bree’Osh, Renaud’s Bakery or Jeannine’s Bakery. Vegans and meat eaters alike rave about Oliver’s, which specializes in upscale plant-based cuisine. Fans of Empty Bowl Gourmet Noodle Bar will rejoice in delight to try Khao Kaeng, featuring traditional Thai dishes. Tre Lune and Pane E Vino are the top spots for Italian, while Cava and Los Arroyos are neck-and-neck when it comes to delish sit-down Mexican. Lucky’s steakhouse is a Montecito institution—the martinis are just as classic as the people watching. The Honor Bar is equally enticing for eats and drinks.
If you’re not staying at one of Montecito’s premier resorts, dining and drinking on property is the next best thing. Sip and savor in style at San Ysidro Ranch’s Stonehouse or the more casual Plow & Angel. Catch the sunset while sipping cocktails at Four Season’s Ty Lounge followed by dinner at Bella Vista. And eat and drink your way through the Rosewood Miramar Beach’s Malibu Farm, Beach Bar and Caruso’s.
Shopping in Montecito is concentrated in three primary hubs—Coast Village Road, the Upper Village, and Montecito Country Mart. Coast Village Road is the main drag, dotted with women’s clothing boutiques like Angel, Whiskey & Leather, Whistle Club, and Allora by Laura. Discover divine home goods and art at Maison K, Lily, Legacy, and Heather James Fine Art. Montecito Country Mart is home to local favorites like Mate Gallery, Kendall Conrad, Malia Mills, Hudson Grace, and Space NK Apothecary. The Upper Village (at the intersection of San Ysidro and East Valley Roads) features a cluster of shopping centers catering to upscale clientele with shops like Wendy Foster, Jenni Kayne, Julianne and William Laman.
The Music Academy of the West summer music conservatory is home to two resale shops open year-round Monday through Saturday from noon until 3:00 p.m. The Rack and Treasure House carry beautiful apparel and antiques with inventory changing almost daily—and sales benefit the nonprofit music education program. The Rosewood Miramar is home to the first of its kind goop Sundries boutique, stocked with clean beauty products, wellness goods, clothing, accessories and more. The resort also features The Gatehouse, a California-inspired concept store curated by California casual designer James Perse.
Shop the Montecito Farmers’ Market like chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee of The Monarch. The market is held every Friday morning from 8:00 a.m. to 11:25 a.m. on Coast Village Road. It’s particularly popular for the flower selection.
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