Guide to Santa Barbara & Montecito (+ a Packing List)

We no longer live in LA full-time, but rather in denial that our life is not at least bi-coastally filled with palm trees, surf and skateparks. (More on that move here). When our new poolhouse flooded and needed to be gutted to the studs, I comforted myself by modeling it’s decor after the Beverly Hills hotel, Martinique wallpaper and all. We live in a farmhouse and barns, so the juxtaposition may be unexpected, but it works from both a design perspective and an aesthetic coping mechanism. My own version of hygge.

Whether Mike or I fly out for work or the whole family needs a west coast fix, Lola included, we are lucky enough to have the most generous friends-who-are-family living in our old west side of L.A. neighborhood and I thankfully still have the keys to their house. For all eight of us (ten including the dogs), the Santa Barbara & Montecito area is our Cali happy place. We head up the coast on every trip, sometimes for a few nights, other times for just a jam packed day. When we’re back east, those amazing friends, along with their twin girls (our precious goddaughters), are on the ground reporting on the latest and greatest there. But no matter what we discover, our go-to spots from skateparks to scones to sand are forever sacred...so here they are:

 Where to Go, What to Do and How to Get it Guide:

Santa Barbara & Montecito 

 

Lucky's Steakhouse

Lucky's Steakhouse

EAT: Drop in for a scone at favorite Montecito brunch spot Jeannine’s (my must-have is raspberry. Just sayin’.) Our friend Josh (see saint above) turned me on to Hoppy Poppy IPA from the Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company. Visit their beer garden in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone where you can order salads, sandwiches and pizzas from the Lucky Penny restaurant next door. Eat under the stars at the romantic and rustic-chic Plough & Angel at tony hotel San Ysidro Ranch. Rori’s Artisinal Ice Cream at the Montecito Country Mart is essential. The “3 Itty Bitty Scoops” for five dollars is a game changer for those that don’t like to choose — I go with Brown Sugar Banana, Nutella and Strawberry Cheesecake. Enjoy dinner at Lucky’s Steakhouse in Montecito. It’s our families’ favorite restaurant. Please order the mac n’ cheese.

 

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

SLEEP: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa — A bit South of Montecito in Ojai, we often stay here in their Mediterranean villas amongst the lavendar. 

Four Seasons The Biltmore Santa Barbara — Just across the street from our favorite beach with access to their famed pool, Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. If you can snag a cottage, make it happen.

When we want to zen just the two of us (and Lola, of course) with ocean views, we head to Bacara for utter relaxation. 

San Ysidro Ranch will set you back, but this retreat in the Santa Barbara foothills where John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned is simply dreamy. Save it for an anniversary or birthday treat (hint, hint).

 

Sunset at Butterfly Beach

Sunset at Butterfly Beach

GO: Hit Santa Barbara Skater's Point Skatepark to see real Southern Cali skaters in action. The park is closed on Saturdays year round from 9-11 am for free lessons for the kiddos. Visit the lovely and very manageable Santa Barbara Zoo with your family. Make sure to get there in time to feed the giraffes. Head to Butterfly Beach directly in front of the Four Seasons Biltmore for a dog day afternoon (your pup will make many friends) or soak in the spectacular sunset over the Pacific. Off the beaten path, take a drive to Los Olivos for wine tasting and a little shopping. Sides Hardware and Shoes - A Brothers Restaurant, will make you glad you did.

SHOP: Browse William Laman for beautiful antiques and exceptional accessories. You won’t want to leave. While you are here by San Ysidro Village, check out House of Honey for glam home goods and Jenni Kayne for minimalist Cali girl designs. Wander the Montecito Country Mart where you will find Co, a pop-up shop by one of my favorite cult Cali designers, as well as chic tabletop shop Hudson Grace and swimwear favorite Malia Mills. My amazing friend Kerri (again, see saint above) introduced me to Raoul Textiles on State Street in Santa Barbara, the showroom for the company’s exquisite hand-printed textile designs, as well as select furnishings and accessories from favorite California based companies. 

 

Packing List

Days can be chilly in the shade and in the evening or quite warm in the sun. This time of year, I choose pieces that still work for summer and warm weather holidays, but can easily transition into layering for fall. 

For a Day of Shopping and Wine Tasting

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DRESS/BOMBER JACKET/SHOES

For Afternoons at the Beach

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