There’s something about the Santa Barbara area that makes our hearts, simply, swoon. It might be the topography: it’s nestled between both mountains and the sea; it might be the food and wine: there are quite literally endless amazing options; or, it might just be that everything feels a bit more ethereal here — making it the most dreamy weekend getaway, ever.
Because we love this area of the country so much, we thought we’d share some of our favorite spots with you in Summerland, Carpinteria, Montecito, and of course, Santa Barbara. The list here could go on, but we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of places to stay, eat, and shop at, as well as a few must-haves to do. Keep scrolling for the official MGD Santa Barbara travel guide. Enjoy!
Summerland / Carpinteria
First up in our Santa Barbara travel guide are these two cute downs you’ll drive through on your way up from LA or Orange County. The two seaside towns of Summerland and Carpinteria sit side-by-side and slightly south of Santa Barbara, making them the perfect pit stop for your drive in or out. And although the towns are small, there’s a handful of one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants that you should most certainly add to your list. Scroll on down to see our faves!
Where to Eat
Padaro Beach Grill / This outdoor gathering place on Santa Claus Lane is a favorite for their fish and chips and stellar sitting area, not to mention, great view of the beach. One of our go-to’s is parking on Santa Claus Lane, walking the adjacent beach, and then landing at Padaro for a late lunch or snack.
Rincon Beach Bar / This newly-opened beach bar is home to some amazing cocktails and food options, and it has a beautiful lawn to relax at for an afternoon. It doubles as a wedding venue, making the ambience here ideal.
Where to Shop
The Well / This garden and furniture shop is quite simply an outdoor oasis. It’s owned by Big Daddy’s Antiques (an LA fave) and is the perfect spot to spend the afternoon wandering through at.
Field + Fort / This café and home store combo has not only a great selection of food and drink, but is home to bespoke and antique items that you could spend hours sifting through.
Garde / This home goods shop is a designer’s paradise — it’s filled with all sorts of things for the garden and home and showcases the work of artisans around the world.
Oh, Montecito — you are so, so loved by us. This seaside village is adjacent to Santa Barbara, and is truly a local’s haven. It has small-town charm, incredible beaches, and endless options to eat, shop, and stay at. We know you’ll love it as much as we do (promise!).
Where to Eat
Olivers / This beauty of a restaurant is well-loved because of its delicious vegan food, amazing ambiance, and great service. It’s a classic for a reason!
Honor Bar / This centrally-located restaurant, market, and bar has a great patio right on Coast Village Road. The food is local and fresh and the people watching is not to miss!
Bettina / This pizza place located in the Montecito Country Mart is as cute as they come. It was started by the duo behind famed Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s, and so there’s no doubt that the pizza here is hard to beat. On top of that, the interior is swoon-worthy and they have the most beautiful bar!
Bree’osh / This small batch, sourdough bakery is the perfect place to begin any morning at.
Merci Montecito / This cafe was created by French chef and editor Elizabeth Colling and has just about everything you could want in a Parisian-inspired space. Stop by here for a takeaway croissant and espresso!
Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch / This sprawling ranch is not only a Hollywood icon, but it has the most lovely grounds to explore. Book a dinner date here and leave an hour or two ahead of your res to roam the property!
Where to Shop
Poppy Marché / This truly is the cutest kids store, ever. It is sourced with colorful and fun things for little ones, and there’s so many thoughtful touches throughout the space.
Upstairs at Pierre Lafond / This designer home goods store sits above a cafe and wine bistro and is a unique and lively spot to explore before a glass of wine downstairs.
William Laman / This antique store across the street from Pierre Lafond is filled with unique pieces sourced from around the world. If you’re a lover of found and one-of-a-kind things, it’s a spot not to miss!
Mate Gallery / Known as the best of New England curated into a shop, this Montecito store is stocked with all kinds of maritime finds. The decor is one of a kind, and it’s the most vibrant and welcoming place to pop by and visit.
What to Do
Butterfly Beach / This locally-loved beach is the best spot for a beachside happy hour. Don’t forget a picnic basket filled with snacks and rosé!)
Rosewood Miramar / This stunning hotel is not only all things charming, but it has amazing grounds that are home to many restaurants and shops. One of our favorite things to do is to grab a drink at Caruso’s (their patio bar) and then walk down the beach. You truly could spend a whole day here exploring the shops, restaurants, and beaches — it’s a full experience in itself.
Lotusland / This lush botanic garden is full of all kinds of flora, making it one of the best gardens in the world. Head here for a peaceful and relaxing couple of hours!
And now, for the main event of our Santa Barbara travel guide — The city of Santa Barbara itself. This list here could go on (because we love so many places here)! However, we’ll leave you with a few of our favorites to mark down as must-visits for your trip.
Where To Eat: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
The Lark / This central favorite is well-loved by locals and was a must-include in our Santa Barbara travel guide. Their ingredients are whole, sourced nearby, and the dishes are delicious as it gets. Bonus points? They serve the most amazing popcorn as a pre-dinner snack (because who doesn’t love that?!)
Helena Avenue Bakery / This coffee shop / winery / bakery combo has everything you could possibly want in a spot. Not only does it serve all of the best things, but it has an incredible outdoor patio that’s the perfect spot for all hours of the day.
Cubaneo / This Cuban restaurant makes colorful and flavorful Cuban food that’s insanely delish. If you go, don’t miss out on getting a craft cocktail from Shaker Mill next door with your meal.
Lucky Penny / This well-loved spot by many on our team has some of the best wood fired pizza you can find in town. It’s simply a must visit.
Corazon Cocina / This vibrant Mexican restaurant just opened a flagship location on State Street. It’s an easy spot to not miss. Not only do they have the most incredible salsas, but their tacos are hard to beat.
Empty Bowl / This small shop located in the Public Market is home to one of our all time favorite meals: curry ramen. It’s the kind of dish you can’t stop thinking about for days upon days.
Santo Mezcal / This Mexican restaurant on State Street boasts fresh fish and ceviche, not to mention unmatched cocktails. If that wasn’t enough, its location gives way to great people watching!
Where to Eat: Bars & Desserts
Test Pilot / This tiki themed bar is most-loved later in the night, and it has an unmatched outdoor patio with great ambiance. It’s located right in the Funk Zone, and is the perfect spot to head to when you’re in need of a break from wine!
Mission Street Ice Cream & Yogurt / This local haven serves up McConnell’s Ice Cream, which has its beginnings in SB! It’s the perfect spot for an after dinner treat.
Oat Bakery / This bakery is a great spot to grab takeaway goodies of all kinds. We dare you to pick just one pastry here!
Things To Do: Wine Tasting
Santa Ynez Wine Trail / With some of the most incredible wine country in the world being only an hour (ish) away, you’d be amiss to visit Santa Barbra and not take a day trip to the Santa Ynez Valley. Hire a driver and book tastings at a few vineyards in the area for a day! You’ll be talking about for years to come.
The Funk Zone / One of the most beloved parts of Santa Barbara is that it’s home to many amazing tasting rooms, and a lot of them are centrally located in the same block of town known as the Funk Zone. A few of our favorites in the area? Melville, Muni Wines, Potek, and The Valley Project!
Things To Do: Everything Else!
Mission Rose Garden / This garden located just a few steps from the historic Mission is beyond dreamy. It’s the perfect spot for a date night picnic or afternoon with your book.
Rent bikes on pier / There are several centrally located bike rental stations on State Street. One of our favorite activities is to pack a picnic, head out on the bike, and stroll down the pier for an afternoon adventure. Or, on your journey down the pier, make a stop at Deep Sea Tasting Room for a wine tasting on the water!
Santa Barbara City Hall / This renowned court house is not only home to some of the most beautiful grounds, but it is one of the best vantage points to see the entire city from. Climb up a set of stairs to get a 360 view of Santa Barbara — from the mountains to the sea.
Hendry’s Beach / This local-loved beach is located slightly outside of the city. However, it’s one of the best spots to end the day. Not only does it have the most incredible view, but it’s dog-friendly — making for an entertaining visit.
Where to Stay
Hotel Californian / This classic hotel is located right on State Street, and therefore can’t be beat for its location. Plus, they host an incredible First Friday in the summer months that is not to miss. It’s one of our favorite spots, and we couldn’t leave it out of our Santa Barbara travel guide!
Wayfarer / This newer hotel is in a great location in the heart of The Funk Zone and is filled with the basics. It’s the perfect spot if you’re going to be out and about throughout the trip and in need of a comfy and reliable place to rest your head.
Rosewood Miramar / Although this resort is located in the nearby village of Montecito, it’s way too beautiful not to include here. It sits right on the shoreline, and is home to the most beautiful bungalows, spa, and pool area. If you’re anything like us, you’ll never want to leave!
Belmond El Encanto / It’s hard not to love any hotel in the Belmond family, and their Santa Barbara location is no exception. The hotel sits up in the hills, making it home to an incredible vantage point.
Hideaway Santa Barbara / This coastal-themed hotel is affordable and cute. In addition, it is centrally located near the Funk Zone. A win-win!
The Goodland / Cute interiors, comfy beds, and just a short 10-minute drive from Downtown Santa Barbara in Goleta. Count us in!
Where to Shop
The Blue Door / This vintage shop is home to many one-of-a-kind goods. Each item is curated with the highest level of intentionality. There’s something for everyone here!
The Mill / A local artisan marketplace is home to all kinds of pop-ups and shopping. One of our favorite afternoon activities is to browse the shops here and then sit down at nearby Potek Winery for a glass of wine!
Diani Living / This home decor boutique will be having you want to add every single thing to cart. Next door, you can find their sister stores Diani Boutique and Diani Shoes.
Raoul Textiles / This gorgeous home store & fabric shop are home to many unique textiles that are all printed in Santa Barbara. You’ll be swooning over every inch of this space!
Well, that’s a wrap on our tour through this beautiful area of California in our Santa Barbara travel guide! We hope you enjoy these sweet cities as much as we do. Tag us if you visit these spots! We’d love to see if you end up going to any of these dreamy spots. For more travel content, head here for more of our favorite destinations near and far. Thanks for following along! xx