Montecito is having a moment right now with many celebrities choosing to call it homebase (I’m looking at you Harry and Meghan, Katy and Orlando, Oprah and Stedman to name a few), and it’s an easy 90 minute drive from Los Angeles. Despite the high profile residents and hefty real estate price tag, Montecito is effortlessly cool and California-chic. Montecito is perfectly nestled between the mountains and the ocean, with charming boutiques, restaurants, and cafés, lining both sides of the main road. This idyllic Californian town is literally a slice of paradise and the perfect spot for an ’emptynestcation’ weekend away with friends!
Montecito is situated between the mountains and the beach, making it a nature lover’s paradise. The neighborhood offers an abundance of outdoor activities and I’ve taken some of the most stunning hikes ever around the hills of Montecito. If cycling is your thing, the winding roads are perfect for mountain biking, and don’t forget the world-class surf just down the hill on Hammonds Beach.
The elegant San Ysidro Ranch and the Stonehouse Restaurant is known as ‘Hollywood’s hideaway’ and is simply seeping with history. Since 1893 celebrities, writers, and politicians have chosen ‘The Ranch’ (as it’s known to locals) to bask in the exquisite natural beauty and discreet pampering.
The ranch has forty-one cottages scattered across the lush hillside on this 550 acre property, which was originally a citrus farm in the early 1800s. Each cottage has its own private, gated entry, enclosed gardens and cottage-side parking, so it’s perfect for a low-key getaway.
Montecito’s unique position between the mountain and the coast, provides a microclimate with a perfectly calm and even temperature all year. The skies are typically clear and sunny most days, and since the coast is in close proximity providing a gentle ocean breeze, it rarely feels uncomfortably hot.
Montecito Country Mart is an enclave of boutiques, restaurants and convenience stores ranging from Caffe Luxxe and the Mate Gallery, to the U.S. Post Office. There’s plenty of parking and coffee shops and it’s fun to just wander around the lovely open air spaces and check out the boutiques.
If you need a break from the peace and tranquility of Montecito for a while, you’re in luck – Santa Barbara is just a 10 minute drive and is filled with museums, winery’s, restaurants and cultural experiences.
Butterfly Beach feels like a private beach since you need to walk through a brightly painted tunnel underneath the 101 freeway to reach it. There’s plenty of open space to relax, and the beach is usually filled with paddle boarders, surfers or people walking along the ocean.
On a clear day you can see the Channel Islands that are located about 20 miles west, and if you’re lucky you might see some dolphins and whales playing in the waves. When it’s low tide you can walk all the way to Santa Barbara’s East Beach, although you have to time it perfectly if you want to walk back! It’s calm, peaceful, and easy to keep a low profile.
Some of the finest California wines are produced in Santa Barbara County, and there are lots of beautiful tasting rooms to relax and taste award-winning wines after the beach or before dinner, all within blocks of downtown and the beach.
Despite the high profile residents of Montecito, there’s still very much a laid-back, private and small-town vibe. I didn’t bump into Harry and Archie at the beach, however if I had it would have been no big deal. Part of the allure and magic of Montecito is for people to have this be their escape… a sanctuary. And there’s an unspoken agreement that this special sanctuary is to be honored and respected.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.