Published: December, 2017
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Montecito/ Santa Barbara, California

Nothing beats the beaches, the runs, or the weather of Santa Barbara!
— Courtney Leary
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, Beach
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: A long weekend.... to a lifetime!

to & from

Fly into Santa Barbara directly if you can. The airport is small and manageable– a breath of fresh air! For the weekend, a car is not necessary, but for any longer you will want a car. Other option is to fly into LA airport and drive about 2 hours north.

Or, drive! A night in Carmel breaks up the 5-6 hour trip from the Bay Area.

Where to Stay

Rosewood Miramar.  Can you say ON THE BEACH?!!  The fact that this resort is actually located on the beach with no road to cross is HUGE in my book. The best part is the lounge chairs on the beach with beach service– so yes, you can order food without leaving the beach, towels are provided, kayaks and paddle boards can be checked out… There are also two pools (adult and kids), a beautiful gym, 3 restaurants and an ice cream shop. This place does not have the charm of The Biltmore but it makes up for it in amenities. And, oh yes, THE TRAIN. There is a train that runs right through the property that we were actually concerned about but it is really actually fun and not annoying– they do a good job of celebrating it yet keeping everyone safe at the same time.

San Ysidro Ranch is absolutely beautiful and famous for its grounds, service and food–however, it is up in the hills, far from the water so we have never chosen to stay here. With that said, it can be quite a bit warmer there, so something to consider if you go to Santa Barbara in the Spring, early Summer or late Fall.

VRBO  or Airbnb offer loads of options as well.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Carusos and Miramar Beach Bar are all located within the Rosewood and worth visiting. Carusos is upscale dining on the water-- amazing views and delicious food, (service a little spotty on our visit)-- date night here can't be beat if you can score a table along the water. Miramar Beach Bar is the party scene-- go for a drink before dinner or after lunch!
  • Tre Luna: Our favorite old school Italian place. Generous portions, delicious food. One time we were here Carol Burnett was at the table next to us.
  • The Honor Bar: Great place for drinks and casual dinner. The scene here around happy hour can’t be beat.
  • Pane Vino: Located next to the grocery store in upper Montecito Village, this place is a surprisingly amazing. Within minutes you feel as if you have been transported to Italy-- around for over 30 years with the same owners. When you are in need of a big Italian hug, this is the place to go. The whole family will be happy here...especially when it is time for dessert.
  • Jeannines Restaurant and Bakery: The best spot in town for breakfast.
  • Brophy Bros- Is a great field trip out of Montecito to the wharf area of Santa Barbara for very casual but delicious seafood (and other options too.) You will have to wait so come early and grab a drink around the corner at their sister restaurant and wander the Marina.
  • Lucky’s: A trip to Montecito would not be complete without a meal here—a traditional steakhouse with lots of other options.
  • The Speakeasy and The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch are both beautiful and delicious. From the Four Seasons, you will need to cab or drive but well worth it. The Speakeasy is cozy and casual. The Stonehouse is more formal and truthfully we have never had a meal here—always opting for the latter- but it is well known around the world.
  • Sakana Sushi: Located in a strip mall but if sushi calls, this is the place to go. The fish is good and the rolls are creative.
  • Rori's Artisanal Creamery in the Montecito Country Mart is worth a visit!  Amazing delicious flavors sure to please everyone in your bunch.

What to Do

  • Sit poolside with your book, your love, your kids, your friends or maybe just your drink!
  • If you have acess, swim laps in the Coral Casino pool. Even if you are not a swimmer this almost Olympic length pool ON THE OCEAN will make you feel like Michael Phelps. And then sit in the hot tub and take in the view when you are done.
  • Run along the bike path to downtown Santa Barbara and back... gorgeous views, happy people and perfect running weather.
  • Mountain Bike: The concierge can arrange a bike rental for you and point you in the direction of great trails-- Romero Canyon is a favorite.
  • Hike! Trails abound. Start here.
  • Take surf lessons! We had a great experience with CalCoast Adventures-- they also arrange all sorts of bike tours and paddle boarding.
  • Shop: Montecito has so many cute boutiques! Some favorite women's clothing and home stores worth hitting up: Angel, Maison K, Wendy Foster Sportswear, Jenni Kayne, Upstairs at Peirre Lafond, Cos Bar Montecito.
  • Check out the shopping on State Street-- more appropriate for teens with a Brandy Mellville, Urban Outfitters, etc... and treats for mom too at Diani clothing, shoe and home stores.

inside scoop

There is coastal fog in Montecito that usually burns off by mid morning…. however, sometimes it does not. June is known to be one of the worst months for fog.

Montecito/ Santa Barbara, California - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Kati Seymore Says

    Just returned from a trip with my daughters to Santa Barbara and we second Courtney’s dining picks of the Honor Bar and Tre Luna in Montecito — delicious food with the fabulous set in Montecito! We also loved the Lark restaurant for dinner (the BEST fried chicken!) and its sister company Helena Street Bakery for breakfast in downtown SB’s newly renovated Funk Zone. For a more affordable lodging option, we loved our stay at the Mar Monte Hotel. Across from East Beach, and equidistant from downtown Santa Barbara and the Montecito coastal village, it’s kind of a hip travel lodge with a great pool, bocce and complimentary cruiser bikes.

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