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Montecito Travel Tips
Just east of Santa Barbara is Montecito, one of California’s most luxurious areas. All around you’ll find recognizable residences and locations as well as stunning natural beauty and plenty of glorious California weather to enjoy.
If you enjoy being outdoors, Montecito has a lot to offer you. It’s near the Santa Ynez Mountains, providing amazing views as well as some excellent hiking opportunities. There are also beautiful gardens and parks to wander through, or you can pack a picnic and enjoy a tasty meal with a stunning backdrop.
Things to Do in Montecito
- Lotusland: To witness some of California’s most beautiful natural sights, visit Lotusland. This 37-acre botanical garden is the historic estate of Madame Ganna Walska. Lotusland features a uniquely designed landscape with a variety of different gardens including a topiary garden, a citrus orchard, a Japanese garden, a water garden, a tropical garden and more. Book a walking tour and enjoy the colorful sights of the the different flowers, plants and shrubbery.
- Casa Del Herrero: Casa Del Herrero, or home of the blacksmith, is a Spanish Colonial Revival Style estate and gardens that is definitely worth a visit during your vacation in Montecito. Designed by architect George Washington Smith and finished in 1925, Casa Del Herrero has maintained much of it's architectural quality over the years. You’ll certainly want to plan a visit to the 11-acre estate to take a docent-led tour of the house, gardens and workshop to see the collection of antiques, books, sketchbooks, drawings and horticultural records.
- The Easton Gallery: Art lovers won’t want to miss checking out The Easton Gallery. Since 1990, this space has represented the work of contemporary local landscape artists like Bill Dewey, Phoebe Brunner, Tom Henderson, Whitney Brooks Hansen and more.
- Stearns Wharf: To experience some true Montecito character, visit Stearns Wharf. The historic fountain featuring three dolphins marks the entrance of this 130-year-old establishment. It served cargo and passenger ships, and now houses shops and restaurants, making for an exciting day. Enjoy the sea breeze and breathtaking views as you enjoy tasty snacks and peruse the local goods.
- The Lobero Theatre: Theater aficionados will be enthralled with Lobero Theatre, one of California’s oldest continuously running theaters. It was founded by Jose Lobero and built as an opera house in 1873, then rebuilt under designs by George Washington Smith for the Community Arts Association in the 1920s. The theater hosts art and cultural events 250 days a year or more, and has staged groups like Opera Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, the State Street Ballet, the Sings Like Hell Flamenco Arts Festival and much more.
- The Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara: Get ready to saddle up and head west with a visit to the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara. Founded in 1972, this museum boasts a collection of more than 50 saddles once belonging to famous riders like Will Rogers, Cisco Kid, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and others. There are also a variety of different carriages to see, including mug wagons, army wagons and circus wagons, so you can see how people traveled in a time before cars. Take yourself on a walking tour or stop by on the third Sunday of the month to hear a docent’s tour.
Shopping and Dining in Montecito
- La Cumbre Plaza: The indoor shopping center is filled with well-known stores as well as some unique local shops and eateries. You’re certain to find just what you’re looking for and maybe even a little something extra!
- Paseo Nuevo: Take advantage of California’s glorious weather in this outdoor shopping space. History meets modernity as you window shop and make purchases of souvenirs here. Enjoy the sunlight and welcoming breeze as you wander from shop to shop.
- Cava Restaurant and Bar: Founded in 1997 by the Lopez-Hollis family, this dining establishment combines food, wine and music from the family’s Mexican and Spanish heritage to bring you a delightful experience. Feast on a delicious meal paired with a wine from Spain, Italy, South America or California as you take in the casual, sophisticated decor.
- Montecito Cafe: If you’re looking for simple, tasty food, you’ll find it at Montecito Cafe. Opened in 1986 by husband-and-wife team Mark and Margaret Huston, this eatery offers daily specials, fresh fish, salad bowls, sandwiches, steaks and chicken. All meals are made from scratch, including desserts, sauces and dressings.