Montecito

Explore Montecito and Homes For Sale

Area Description

Long considered one of the wealthiest communities in the country, Montecito is home to sprawling, meticulously landscaped estates owned by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Rob Lowe, but the roughly 9,000 residents are mostly cut from a more modest cloth, willing to pay a bit more to enjoy the semirural lifestyle and amazing schools like Cold Springs and Montecito Union. The entire community feels like one big park, with hiking trails and equestrian paths that travel between towering oak, sycamore, palm, and eucalyptus trees from the rocky mountains to the sandy beaches. The hubs of Coast Village Road and the Upper Village provide all the restaurants, markets, salons, and other modern creature comforts required.

Area Highlights

The Neighbors

Celebrities and the über-wealthy, along with a good amount of less-than-billionaire families, too.

Market

Mansions that cost more than $20 million, single family homes for $1 million-plus, and a smattering of luxury condos, both beachfront and more urban in setting.

Lifestyle

Healthy, active, and outdoor-loving bistro culture, not bound to traditional 9-to-5 work schedules.

You'll Love

People watching during brunch at Jeannine’s, combing the sands of Butterfly Beach, and dining on $50 steaks at Lucky’s or the Four Seasons Biltmore.

Perfect For

Families seeking out great schools and multimillionaires who want to enjoy their wealth in a semirural way, yet with all the comforts of a resort.

Around the Area

An understated elegance permeates the wealthy, semirural enclave of Montecito, where towering trees and exotic flora do a good job of hiding the opulent mansions that rest behind stately hedgerows and ornate gates. Aside from the Chumash people who lived off the creeks and coastline for millennia, the first settlers were retired soldiers from the Santa Barbara Presidio, and their comparably Spartan adobes can still be seen in what locals call “Old Spanish Town.”

The town first attracted the moneyed class with the development of the Hot Springs Resort in the 1860s, built upon a spring that the Chumash believed contained magical healing waters. The resort was popular until 1962, when the Coyote Fire claimed its wooden structures. By then, the San Ysidro Ranch was already established as one of the most peaceful places to stay on the West Coast, with Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy (who honeymooned there with Jackie) as some of its more prominent fans.

The influx of well-off Yankees from the late 19th century onward led to the development of the more than 200 grand estates (with names like Bonnymede, Riven Rock, and Arcady) and myriad churches as well as golf courses, equestrian trails, tennis courts, and polo fields. The community fought against overt commercialization at every opportunity, though, banning billboards and couching retail shops and restaurants into only select corners.

Today, public life in Montecito revolves around the eateries and shops of Coast Village Road and the Upper Village, as well as along the coastline at Butterfly Beach across from the Four Seasons Biltmore resort and the Coral Casino private club. The town is indeed home to some of the richest and most famous people on the planet, but there are also more modest residents who choose the area for its great schools and rural way of life.

In addition to the coastline, which stretches down toward Summerland along Hammond’s Beach, the soon-to-be-rebuilt Miramar Resort, and Shark’s Cove at Fernald Point, hiking trails wind up into the mountains behind Montecito and beyond. The rare-plant-filled gardens of Lotusland are also worth exploring at length, and the Casa del Herrero estate is a historic landmark that does great justice to explaining the origins of Santa Barbara architecture.

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