santa barbara

FabList: Santa Barbara 2024 (Carpinteria, Summerland, & Montecito too)

Chrissie & Jo both traveled to Santa Barbara recently and of course have all kinds of things to tell you!  From where to eat, shop, hike, beach walk, and where to look for a certain Duchess. Here is our FabList Santa Barbara 2024.

The Santa Barbara area includes a few different towns.  From South to North, these are Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, and Santa Barbara.

Carpinteria:

Home to lemon and avocado ranches as well as some of the top surfing beaches (Rincon Beach), Carpinteria is still a sleepy little surf town – with a few celebrities thrown in on beach-front Padaro Lane (Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, George Lucas, Conan O’Brien and more…).

Activity:

  • Beach Walk: Padaro Lane is a great place to stroll (and see above for who lives there to get an idea of how nice the homes are!). Park at Railroad Beach/Santa Claus Beach and walk on the sand toward Santa Barbara. Great beach house viewing of the rich and famous.

Eat:  

  • Lucky Llama: Acai Bowls, Coffee, Avo Toast.  Very casual, umbrella tables in a parking lot.
  • Little Dom’s Seafood:  Fresh & local seafood and woodfire oven, pizza & lots of famous California Italian classics.
  • The Spot: For over 60 years, The Spot has been serving up delicious hamburgers, french fries, and real milkshakes just steps from the beach in Carpinteria.

Summerland:

A few miles North of Carpinteria, Summerland is a one-street town with antique stores, wine tasting rooms, and a few good restaurants.

Eat:  

  • The Nugget: A local favorite, old-time haunt of Ronald Reagan. A typical saloon.Try the crunchburger.
  • Field & Fort: Yummy healthy salads and sandwiches with great outdoor seating.

Shop:  

  • The Well: Owned by Big Daddy’s out of LA, a home and garden lollapalooza. Ask for Mimi and tell her Joanne Ramsay sent you!
  • Field & Fort:  Elevated retail ($200 dog leashes!) and a great spot for a coffee outside with a chance to spot frequent flier Ellen DeGeneres.
  • Botanik:  Great furniture, books, and plants.
  • The Porch: Lovely home decor items, everything from candles to dishes to furniture

Montecito:  

A few miles North of Summerland, Montecito is made up of a few main areas:  Coast Village Road, the Montecito Country Mart, and the Upper Village.  Also home to Harry & Megan, who have been spotted at Pierre La Fond and Pane Vino!

Montecito/Coast Village Road:

Eat:

  • Jeannines:  Great for breakfast and lunch.
  • Tre Lune: Dedicated to consistently delivering authentic Italian cuisine.
  • Bree‘osh: Breakfast and perfect pastries.
  • Lucky Montecito:  An inviting old-school bar, a friendly staff, and unsurpassed ingredients: USDA prime beef and the freshest seafood.
  • The Honor Bar Montecito: An intimate space, featuring an impressive wooden bar, exhibition kitchen, and relaxing patio. Enjoy premium sandwiches, salads, and cocktails.

Shop:

  • Maison K: Destination lifestyle boutique where people feel transported to a lovely, harmonious, and serene world!
  • K Frank:  Clothing:  Zimmerman, Veronica Beard, etc . . .
  • Whiskey & Leather:  Boho, casual clothing.
  • Angel Montecito:  Owned by Wendy Foster, great California chic casual clothing.
  • Whistle Club: Women’s apparel, footwear, and jewelry from the best independent designers and fashion industry favorites.

Montecito/Montecito Country Mart:

Eat:

  • Bettina:  Cozy neighborhood restaurant serving naturally-leavened,  Neapolitan-style pizza made with seasonal California ingredients.
  • Merci Bakery Montecito: Created by acclaimed pastry chef Elizabeth Colling. An artisanal cafe serving delicious organic homemade food.

Shop:

  • Clic: Destination for exquisite, unique, and globally sourced products.
  • Hudson Grace: Timeless décor for those who love to entertain.
  • Mate Gallery: They have curated the best of New England and brought it to Southern California.
  • Doen: Digitally-led, multi-channel fashion and lifestyle brand that connects directly with its consumers.

Montecito/Upper Village:

Eat:

  • Pierre La Fond:  Great take-away food for breakfast and lunch.
  • Pane Vino: Very traditional Italian food in a quaint setting.
  • Montecito Coffee Shop: The distinctive barnhouse red building on the corner of San Ysidro and East Valley roads has been serving breakfast and lunch since the 1960s.
  • San Ysidro Ranch: Beautiful grounds and lovely restaurant. Recently renovated bar which is a great place to stop in for a drink and walk around the property.

Shop:

  • Jennie Kayne: Clothing & Home: timeless clothing and decor.
  • Pierre LaFond Upstairs:  Home and gifts.
  • Wendy Foster: Luxury women’s clothing boutique that is a part of the longstanding Wendy Foster & Pierre Lafond family of companies.
  • William Laman: William Laman and Bruce Gregga offer a distinctive mix of merchandise, hand-selected during their buying trips throughout the world.
  • Country House Antiques: Country House Antiques has been established in Montecito for almost twenty years, specializing in 18th and 19th Century furniture from Sweden and France with original painted decoration.
  • House of Honey: Residential and commercial interior design studio and retail showroom from Tamara Honey, expertly curated with thought-provoking new and bespoke goods and vintage rarities.
  • Wunderkind Montecito: Casual but elevated, Wunderkind stocks clothing, shoes, handbags, fine jewelry, and home accents from some of the world’s top designers. Some of the brands include Alaïa, Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Gabriela Hearst, Khaite, and The Elder Statesman.
  • Tecolote Bookstore:  The best!  Tell them what you like and they will find you more great books to read!
  • Rooms & Gardens: Casual furniture and decor.  Great Peter Dunham textiles, tableware, and more.
  • Lee Stanton Antiques: Antique store specializing in European and English antiques for designers and consumers.

Other Montecito Sites:

  • Lotus Land: Named one of the 10 best gardens in the world, home to over 3000 plants from the world over and the horticultural passion of an extraordinary woman named Ganna Walska. Book ahead, spots are limited – recommend a docent led tour if it’s your first visit.
  • Butterfly Beach: Great walking beach in front of the Biltmore Hotel.
  • San Ysidro Ranch: Charming hotel set in the hills.  Honeymoon spot of Jackie O and JFK.  Great cocktails at Plow & Angel and food at The Stonehouse.  Great special occasion dinner spot.
  • Casa del Herrero: The “House of the Blacksmith,” is a time capsule of Montecito, California in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s on the National Register of Historical Places.  Docent led tours by reservation only.

Santa Barbara:


Funk Zone/Lower State Street:

Eat:

  • The Lark: Urbane eatery in a former fish market offers New American fare in wood-lined quarters with a patio.
  • Loquita: Farm–fresh Spanish tapas & craft cocktails are served at this busy haunt with a cozy vibe & a patio.
  • Lucky Penny: Combo pizzeria & coffeehouse featuring java, wood-oven pies & pastries in low-key digs with a patio.
  • Lama Dog Tap Room + Nook Restaurant: Craft beer and the Nook is located inside the Tap Room, serving great fish dishes, burgers, fries, and vegan/vegetarian options.
  • Dart Coffee Company: Dedicated to bringing ethical craft-roasted coffee to your cup.
  • Pearl Social: Intimate cocktail and music bar where people come to celebrate.

Shop:

State Street/Downtown:

Eat/Drink:

  • Joe’s: Old School Local spot with large pours! Great Martinis.
  • Pickle Room Bar: Historic spot which opened in 1947 as Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens. The bar reopened as the Pickle Room and is known for their pickle martinis.
  • The Handlebar: Coffee Shop.
  • Alessia: Great breakfast spot with delightful pastries (next door to Handlebar).
  • Brophy’s on the Pier: ‘Chowder house’ dining with an ocean view.
  • Margerum Wine Tasting Room:  Chill and try their awesome rose!

Shop:

  • Jake & Jones Clothing: (next door to Alessia and Handlebar).
  • Diani Living: Great hats, body [products, home products, gifts and wicker items.
  • Diani Boutique: Clothing and shoes a few doors down.  Great brands like Herno, Isabel Marant, Smythe, etc . . .
  • Wendy Foster:  Yet another location for this great women’s retail empire that epitomizes Santa Barbara casual.

Activities:

  • Bellosguardo Tour: Recently opened to the public. Book written about the Clark family: In March 2022, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-author of the best-selling biography of Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.  Owned by: Copper king, William Andrews Clark, bought the estate from the Grahams in 1923. Beginning with nothing, Clark was a true self-made man, for a time laying claim to the largest mining concern in the world.
  • Biking: Bike rentals at Cal Coast Adventures. Located a couple blocks from the beach, you can get an ebike that lets you tour up and down the coast, as well as up into neighborhoods. Go to the Rosewood in Montecito for a drink! Great bike paths along the coast. You can rent mountain bikes as well. Highly recommend.
  • Hiking: There are tons of amazing hikes in the mountains. Make sure you check if a trail is open with all of the recent rain and slides.  You can get on trails in Montecito, in Santa Barbara and everywhere in between. The easiest thing to do is download the All Trails app and filter by the area and type of hike you are looking for. Great views and can be very rigorous!  Parking can be tough, so go early if you can. One option is to start at the Romero Canyon Trailhead (not currently open so check before you go) which takes you up the mountains behind Montecito. Popular mountain bike area as well. Terrific views of the water and all of the area.
  • The Santa Barbara Mission: Self-guided audio tours, or in-person tours available.
  • El Presidio: Military outpost built by the Spanish.
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art: Showcases a collection of ancient through contemporary works and photography, represented by Asian, European, and American artists.

Hotels: 

Santa Barbara is tricky hotel-wise because they have high-end and high-end.  There is not much in between!  Here are some options:

The Rosewood Miramar Beach: Right on the beach.  Pools, restaurants, very beautiful!

San Ysidro Ranch:  Montecito mountains. Gorgeous, cabins, pet-friendly.  Where Jackie O and JFK honeymooned.  Per$ection.

Montecito Inn:  Right on Coast Village road close to shopping and restaurants and not far from the beach.

The Four Seasons Biltmore: Montecito across the street from Butterfly Beach.  Reopening soon.

Hotel Californian: Downtown SB in the heart of the Funk Zone.

Belmond El Encanto:  Up above SB, recently renovated, gorgeous.

Ritz Carlton Bacara Resort:  North of SB about 15 minutes.  On the coast, good spa.

Hotel Santa Barbara:  We stayed here and liked it and the price is right.  Right downtown but under renovation now but check back!

Paradise Retreats:  Vacation rentals.

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Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

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