A LUXE WEEKEND GETAWAY

Best 24 Hours in Montecito.  Ciel & Lune Luxury Travel Guides.

BEST 24 HOURS IN MONTECITO

If a day or so is all you have for a getaway, Montecito is the perfect destination… Here is my guide for the Best 24 Hours in Montecito, California.

Even though it’s next to Santa Barbara, Montecito has its own vibe. Laid-back. Effortlessly cool. Posh, without being pretentious.

The likes of Oprah, Al Gore and other celebrities (Hollywood and otherwise) make this their home, but you won’t see a cavalcade of flashy cars downtown… Understatement is the key in this luxe coastal town.

STAY

ROSEWOOD MIRAMAR

The Rosewood Miramar Beach is the stunning newcomer to Montecito. It’s shiny, sparkling and has a polished, beach feel. It’s definitely more polished than beachy. Malibu Farm (see more below) has a nice patio here, Caruso’s is the fancier place for locally sourced Italian food, and there are 3 bars to choose from, plus an ice cream shop.

*For any Goop fans, there is a small shop in the lobby called Goop Sundries that has a nice assortment of non-toxic, but luxe skincare, home accessories and clothing.

SAN YSIDRO RANCH

Shiny and new this is not, but San Ysidro Ranch is a gorgeous, subtly luxurious resort that has been a main-stay in Montecito for decades. Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier got married here and Jackie and President John F. Kennedy honeymooned here. It’s understated luxury at its best. The grounds are impeccable in an organic way and the restaurants are perfect (see below for more info on dining).

*If you don’t stay here, at least stop for lunch and walk around the grounds. This 500-acre property showcases the best in California plants and has a beautiful ocean view.

HOTEL CALIFORNIAN

Morocco meets California in this new hotel just steps from the beach. It was designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard in his signature style and retains the ocean views of the original hotel that was destroyed in the 1925 earthquake. It’s across the way from Fisherman’s Wharf and in the Funk Zone, Santa Barbara’s burgeoning arts district. Nice restaurants, wine bars and shops are down the street. Again, this resort is not in Montecito, but it’s a 5-minute drive.

*I haven’t stayed here yet, but think the location is great if you want to be in a lively area.

FOOD

MALIBU FARM (sadly, closed during Covid)

Of all of the Southern California outposts of this expanding restaurant group, the Montecito location is by far the most formal.  High ceilings, large Art Deco mirrors and simple brass and glass light fixtures are in keeping with the beachy, but formal style of the hotel it is in, The Rosewood Miramar.  The food- like all the Malibu Farm cafes- fresh, delicious, farm-to-table California cuisine.  The service—attentive and polished.

*Find a spot on the patio for an ocean view, but don’t be alarmed by the occasional train that passes by the property on its way up and down the California Coast.

SAN YSIDRO RANCH

The patio at StoneHouse is one of my very favorite spots for lunch anywhere.  The cozy stone patio is surrounded by loquat trees and it is the perfect combination of greenery, chirping birds,  the sound of water cascading from a fountain and inspired food/great service.  It feels special here—relaxing, luxurious, but in a subtle, understated way.  It has 5-stars for a reason.

*The patio isn’t always open for service.  If not, I opt for the terrace on the second floor of The Stonehouse.

BETTINA

This isn’t the usual pizza place. It’s pretty here. Very pretty. And the food tastes just as good, too. A seasonal menu with Neapolitan-style pizza, salads, a few other entrees and dessert.

*The Hazelnut Chocolate Cake is AMAZING. No exageration.

MERCI

Merci is just a few doors down from Bettina and is very pretty, also. It’s décor is a soft pink, inspired by Parisian interiors. This is a nice spot for coffee, tea, a pastry or a sandwich.

*Merci caters, also.

MIRAMAR BEACH BAR

If being right on the ocean for cocktails and appetizers is your happy place, then the Miramar Beach Bar at the Rosewood Miramar is an excellent choice.  It feels like a fun, members-only club… Cozy seating areas (with large, comfy chairs, lounges and tables) are sprinkled about the deck, you can order from the bar or at the tables. 

*This is a festive way to spend a few hours at the beach, without getting sandy.

SHOP

Beautiful shops in Montecito, California.  Organic, but luxurious gifts, clothing and housewares. Best 24 hours in Montecito.

Shopping in Montecito is quite good. Although there aren’t a lot of shops, what is there is of beautiful quality. You can find designer clothing, beautiful home accessories & nice gifts, too. Here are my favorites.

GARDE

This shop is exquisite. The owners have scoured the art and design world to find those special artists and artisans who are still making art. The pieces here are handmade in ateliers around the world. Some are organic in design like the ceramics from Emelie Halpern, while others are rather sculptural, like the lighting from Apparatus (I’m coveting their Highwire Tandem chandelier). What they all share is a character and soul that only handmade things have, especially in this age of mass production.

Garde has two shops. One near Montecito (in Summerland), the other in Los Angeles on Beverly Blvd. The Montecito location has silkies (chickens) on the side yard. Believe me, only this place can make a chicken coop look elegant and refined.

*The Montecito Garde has a beautiful “apartment” on the second floor of the shop. It’s available for short-term stays.

WHISTLE STOP

This shop has a curated collection of clothing lines from It-Girl favorites- Zimmerman, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, ATP Atelier, etc…

*A small, but cool collection of shoes that you won’t find everywhere.

UPSTAIRS BY PIERRE LAFOND

This shop exemplifies Montecito/Santa Barbara style… From Beni Ourain Moroccan rugs to large-scale abstract paintings, everything here is organic, subtly elegant and beautiful displayed.

Inspiring coffee table books, luxurious linens, hand-carved wooden tableware, and handmade jewelry are stacked everywhere in this gorgeous shop.

*Our favorite ring, the Lucky Elephant Ring, has sold well here. You can also find it in 14k gold or 18k gold here.

MAISON K

Varying shades of white, cream, natural wood, honed brass and mother-of-pearl are everywhere in this long-time Montecito home décor shop. It’s a soothing combination of textures and soft neutral shades from around the world– Pebbled leather bags from Italy, lightweight cashmere scarves from France, vases, mirrors & knick knacks from Morocco, bold jewelry from Turkey. If neutrals are your thing- so is this store.

*Small selection of beautiful clothing, too.

JULIANNE

Del Pozo, Altuzarra, Jason Wu, Dries Van Noten, Carolina Herrera. Need I say more?

THINGS TO DO

BUTTERFLY BEACH

RIDE BIKES TO SANTA BARBARA

WINE TASTING

SPA DAY

FINAL THOUGHTS

Let me know your thoughts on our Best 24 Hours in Montecito mini guide. If you have some extra time, Santa Barbara is next door and we have a great Santa Barbara guide to help you explore the best things there… Going down the coast a bit, learn the perfect things to do in our Insider’s Secret Guide to Laguna Beach.

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