A Guide to the Marvelous Montecito

Travel Advisor Amy Shamus poses with her hand on her hip wearing a denim top and jeans in a kitchen
Curated By

Amy Shamus

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  • USA

  • California

  • Family Travel

  • Wellness Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Luxury Travel

  • Santa Barbara

  • Coast

  • Relaxation

  • Outdoors

Umbrellas on the beach
Curator’s statement

Nestled amongst the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains, Montecito, California is a haven for the senses. Whether you want to explore the stunning coast lines or hike the robust trails, outside reigns supreme in Montecito.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay In Montecito, CA

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Rosewood Miramar Beach

A Santa Barbara icon turned foodie heaven on one of the dreamiest stretches of the American Riviera.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

San Ysidro Ranch

Tucked in the foothills of Santa Barbara, this dreamy ranch hideaway features a spacious garden, farm-to-table dining, 38 vine-covered cottages and a legendary guest list. The Kennedys honeymooned here.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Montecito Inn

Hacienda-style hotel sith classic interiors and lush accommodations.

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Travel Advisor Amy Shamus poses with her hand on her hip wearing a denim top and jeans in a kitchen

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Things to do In Montecito, CA

A beach in Montecito.

Take a stroll on Butterfly Beach at sunset.

Surf, boogie-board or body-surf on Miramar Beach.

Hiking, hiking and more hiking. The hike up to Montecito Peak is not to be missed.

Rent bikes from Mad Dogs on Coast Village Road to explore the neighborhood. The winding streets and luscious pathways make for an enjoyable ride all year long.

Wine Tasting at Folded Hills Tasting Room. Bonus, if you want a day trip up to Santa Ynez (less than an hour drive) you can visit the Folded Hills Winery.

Take a tour of Lotus Land. A truly unique botanical garden with rich history, this spot will certainly awaken the senses.

Spa treatments at Rosewood Miramar.

Shop the Montecito Upper Village. This charming destination is home to new boutique Wunderkind as well as Jenni Kayne, Wendy Foster, and more.

Day Trips

Santa Ynez Valley was not called a "hidden gem" by Forbes Travel in 2023 for nothing. Home to some of California's most sought after wines, Los Olivos, Solvang and Santa Ynez are a wine lover's paradise. In addition to the wine culture in "the valley," the food is also not to be missed. Home to Michelin-starred restaurant, Bells, the food experience in Santa Ynez Valley is fantastic.

Places to eat & drink In Montecito, CA

Seated fine-dining at a restaurant.

San Ysidro Ranch (Sunday Brunch) - Infamous for a reason, be sure to make a reservation if you want to get into this spectacular display of brunch at its finest.

Caruso's Rosewood Miramar (Dinner) - Fine dining on the ocean. There are so few places in the world you can experience food this elevated and spectacular in a setting such as this.

Merci Montecito Country Mart (Breakfast or Lunch) - Home to the world's best chocolate chip cookie (in my humble opinion). Merci is run by Elizabeth Colling, former food editor for Martha Stewart Living, who spares no detail (or tastebud) in each and every dish served at Merci.

Oliver's (Dinner) - A vegan restaurant even meat lovers will rejoice over. Set under gorgeous trees and lanterns, this spot has romance written all over it. The Billy Billy is a tequila lover's dream.

Bettina (Lunch or Dinner) - Pizza lovers rejoice. Wood fired. Fresh. Local. Delicious. And... made with sourdough crust.

Jeanine's (Breakfast/Brunch) - You can spot the pink umbrellas outside from a mile away. This spot is quaint and cozy all while packing a flavorful punch.

Lucky's (Dinner) - If you like steak and martinis, run don't walk to this classic gem.

Pan e Vino (Dinner) - Not everything happens in or around Coast Village Road. Visit the Upper Village Montecito for this authentic Italian classic.

Pierre Lafond Market (Breakfast) - Also located in the Upper Village, Pierre Lafond is a locals favorite. Stop for coffee or a picnic and enjoy your goodies in their beautiful park (located just across from their front door.)

Los Arroyos (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) - If you like traditional Mexican fare, this is the spot for you. Family owned and operated, you can feel the love and tradition of this establishment the moment you walk in the door. Don't miss the Mama's Chicken Salad or the Cadillac Margarita (although warning - it packs a punch!)

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspo? Check out my guide Todos Santos, Mexico Getaway.

Travel Advisor Amy Shamus poses with her hand on her hip wearing a denim top and jeans in a kitchen

Travel Advisor

Amy Shamus

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Local Travel.