Welcome to Montecito

Photo by Nick Koutoulas

Tucked between the mountains and the sea and boasting a near-perfect year-round climate, Montecito has become one of, if not the most exclusive and attractive communities in the world. Home prices begin at nearly $2 million and go up to $45 million and more. Along with a coterie of movie stars and celebrated authors, some dozen billionaires either call Montecito home or maintain second homes here.

There are two distinct commercial areas of Montecito: the upper village and Coast Village Road. In the upper village, a small shopping area between San Ysidro Road and Santa Angela Lane, contains a hardware store, grocery store, post office, gas station, stationery store, bookshop, three banks, a frame & art store, photo shop, two jewelry shops, hair salons & fragrance shops, a brokerage firm, drugstore, coffee shop, deli, real-estate offices, antiques, architects, dry cleaners, cheese shop, clothing & houseware boutiques, and three Italian restaurants. The Montecito Village Shopping Center is indeed the hub of this unique community.

Coast Village Road has a myriad of restaurants, real-estate offices, banks, boutiques, delis, hotels, motels, art galleries, video stores, pizza parlors, banks, jewelry stores, exercise salons, ice cream & gelato shops, etcetera, and is often compared to Rodeo Drive, although far more laid back; the number of clothing and accessory shops along Coast Village Road are limited and none are as ostentatious as their Beverly Hills counterparts.

Photo by Nick Koutoulas

Montecito's two public elementary schools (rated among the best in the State of California) are joined by five private schools and a 1,200-student highly ranked liberal arts college. Two public parks, a public tennis court, and a family-oriented YMCA also benefit Montecito homeowners and residents. Architects connected with Montecito range from George Washington Smith and his assistant Lutah Riggs, to Carleton Winslow, Sanford White, Reginald Johnson, Bertram Goodhue, Frank Lloyd Wright, Julia Morgan, and many others of equal stature.

There are three private golf courses in Montecito: Birnam Wood (designed by Robert Trent Jones), The Valley Club (designed by Alistair McKenzie, co-creator of Augusta National, site of the Masters), and Montecito Country Club (landscape architect Max Behr's original design is about to be altered by Jack Nicklaus). The Knowlwood Tennis Club and Coral Casino offer both swim and tennis clubs for their members. The fabled oceanfront Biltmore Hotel is now the Four Seasons Biltmore and is one of the few five-star establishments in California.

Photo by Nick Koutoulas

Tourist facilities and diversions are limited: one can spend the day at Butterfly Beach or go off hiking and/or horseback riding in the back country, but many visitors enjoy the simpler pleasure of dining in one of the many restaurants and coffeehouses along Coast Village Road and taking leisurely strolls to the ocean afterwards. Most of Montecito's storied activities take place, however, in private mansions behind tall hedges and up long driveways.

Whether you are staying at one of Montecito's hotels or motels or with friends in a modest cottage or grand estate, Montecito Journal would like to offer you a friendly "Welcome to Montecito!"