Here’s What to Do in This Charming Seaside Town
Montecito is a charming and affluent beach town located just south of Santa Barbara. From premier shopping to Michelin-starred eats, Montecito is a year-round destination that’s perfect for a luxe weekend away. Whether you want to hit the waves with surfing lessons or enjoy a wine-tasting after lunch, there is something for every kind of visitor. Pack up the car and get ready for a little road trip up PCH! We’ve got you covered with how to spend 48 blissful hours in Montecito.
Fuel Your Day
Coffee at Caffe Luxxe
Upon getting into Montecito, the first thing you should do is head to Caffe Luxxe for a post-travel energy boost. This modern coffee shop is located at the Montecito Country Mart and serves everything from classic espressos to drip coffees and iced lattes. However, the Caffe Shakerato is a one-of-a-kind coffee that is shaken like a cocktail and made with espresso, milk and delicious dark chocolate. Since Caffe Luxxe doesn’t have Wi-Fi, guests are encouraged to kick back, relax and simply enjoy living in the present moment. If you’re hungry and in need of a bite, Caffe Luxxe also offers an array of organic pastries and baked goods that are made fresh every day. Their almond croissant is a sweet favorite, and they have Italian-style sandwiches, such as the prosciutto with pesto, which are great for a light, early lunch.
See: Butterfly Beach
For good reason, Butterfly Beach is one of the most coveted and popular beaches in the Santa Barbara area. At low tide, the shoreline at Butterfly Beach is great for lounging, tanning or posting up with some food and drink for a picnic. One of the best things about this beach is the fact that the water tends to be pretty clear, making it ideal for swimming, surfing or even kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Butterfly Beach is also dog-friendly (as long as they’re on a leash), so you’re even welcome to bring your furry family members.
Stay: Rosewood Miramar Beach
The Rosewood Miramar Beach is the ultimate luxury hotel to book in Montecito. The celebrity-loved property has hosted everyone from the Kardashian family to Chelsea Handler. Upon arrival, guests will notice the signature pink beach shuttle that sits out front before walking into the breathtaking lobby that features a grand staircase, checkered marble floors and a peek of the Pacific. From the garden bungalows to the beach-house guest rooms, the aesthetic across the entire property is sure to make all of your “coastal grandmother” dreams come true. Stroll along the semi-private beach at sunset before heading to the Manor Bar for an innovative cocktail in the sleek, library-esque setting.
Dine: Miramar Beach Bar
Whether you’re looking for lunch or a quick bite in the early afternoon, grab a spot at the Miramar Beach Bar and enjoy the sweeping ocean views. This stunning bar places guests right in front of the water, allowing you to enjoy the breeze and sound of crashing waves as you sip on a Miramar Bell Margarita and share some appetizers. Start off with the refreshing Mayan ceviche or the Miramar chips with guacamole and salsa. You can’t go wrong with the quesabirria tacos or lamb barbacoa tacos for the main course. If you want to stick with seafood, go for the fish tacos.
Shop: Montecito Country Mart
View this post on Instagram
Want to add a coastal flair to your wardrobe? The Montecito Country Mart is home to several different boutiques, art galleries, beauty shops and more. This quaint shopping center has been around since the 1960s, and you can easily spend a whole afternoon here window shopping and browsing. Grab a green juice from Pressed Juicery before heading to Hudson Grace to check out the glassware, linens and splurge-worthy candles. When it comes to clothes, grab some chic tops from James Perse and the perfect sundress from DÔEN. Cool down with a scoop of honey lavender ice cream from Rori’s before dropping your goodies back at the hotel.
Dine: Dinner at San Ysidro Ranch
The Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch is known for its fairy tale-like setting, garden-to-table produce and elevated menu. The interior of the restaurant features a classic wood-burning fireplace, whereas the oceanview terrace places guests under a sea of twinkling string lights. Considering a majority of the veggies are sourced from the on-site garden, each bite is utterly fresh and flavorful. Order a bottle of local sauvignon blanc and start your dinner with the Santa Barbara diver-caught sea urchins and some briny oysters on the half-shell. The award-winning baby-back ribs are a local favorite, but the steak Diane is a true showstopper—it’s flambéed tableside!
Do: Take a Surf Lesson
Surfing is at the forefront of Santa Barbara’s culture. That said, there’s no better place to learn! Whether you want to take a group class or book a private lesson, Surf Happens is the premier school for lessons in Santa Barbara and Montecito. Lessons can be taken year-round and are available for students of all ages. You do need to set up an appointment and book ahead, so be sure to register online and plan your visit beforehand. Everything from the wetsuit to the board is provided. Simply show up in your favorite swimsuit, layer on the sunscreen and get ready to glide.
Dine: Lunch at Bettina
Bettina is the ultimate place for pizza in Montecito. This charming restaurant received a Bib Gourmand award and specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas that follow traditional Italian protocol. The dough is made with organic flour, naturally leavened and fermented for at least 48 hours, resulting in a spectacular and fluffy crust that you won’t be able to get enough of. From classic Margherita to more unique pies like the King Trumpet, the majority of produce used in each pizza and dish is gathered from local farmers markets. Even the mozzarella is hand-pulled in-house each day to ensure that quality reigns supreme at this beloved pizzeria.
Do: Hike Hot Springs Canyon Trail
Hot Springs Canyon Trail is the perfect place to get your steps in before soaking in the natural spring. This hike is considered to be moderately challenging and is a little less than four miles round-trip. Expect to spend around two and a half hours on the trail, and be sure to bring plenty of water (and a swimsuit). The trail is also dog-friendly and open year-round. The views of the Pacific Ocean are breathtaking, and you’re sure to encounter some unique vegetation and wildlife along the way. Depending on what time of the year you visit, the creek that leads to the hot springs also might be flowing.
Wine Tasting: Folded Hills Tasting Room
No trip to Santa Barbara County is complete without a little wine tasting. Thankfully, Montecito has its very own tasting room in the heart of Coast Village Road. Folded Hills Tasting Room is open for wine tastings everyday from noon to 4:30 p.m. and is actually within walking distance from Rosewood Miramar Beach. All of the wines from Folded Hills are handcrafted consciously and in small batches, and all of the vineyards sourced from are certified organic. Pop in for a tasting and leave with a few bottles to enjoy when you get back home.
Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.