Got Montecito?! The Many Neighborhoods of Montecito

By Mark Ashton Hunt   |   July 9, 2024
1893 Eucalyptus Hill Road – $16,500,000 – Built in 2020, this 6,300+ sq. ft. chateau in the hills is impressive all the way from the street to the ocean view. Great close-to-town location, impressive flag lot with motor court, ocean, city lights and harbor views, a pool, 2,000-bottle wine room, and more.

When we say “Montecito” nowadays, that word carries a lot more weight to those outside our realm than it did five years ago. Before the Rosewood at Miramar caught the eye of L.A., and before we all knew the term “working remotely.”

More than the perception of Montecito as it has long been, a land of the “known” people residing here, I dare say the magic of Montecito is as much the land, the topography, the creeks, beaches and climate that have created a nature preserve where we all are fortunate enough to live, work and play. 

Multiple mountains rise up just a mile or two from the ocean’s edge, where surf spots ignite when the swell is right. Undulating foothills provide outstanding, panoramic ocean views, while the hiking and biking trails and creeks that lace through town keep things feeling just a li’l bit country. Yet, Lucky’s, Tre Lune, and other stellar culinary experiences are just down the road.

I offer that the rural feel of the greater Montecito area comes also from the fact that many of our 93108 homes are built on half-acre or one-acre or even larger parcels, thanks to our early planners. Hopefully we can keep Montecito as she is and not “neighborhood up” by lot-splitting into oblivion. This “space” is what makes the place, if I may say. 

Even with some of the most expensive homes in L.A., you are on a small lot with others homes not 20 feet away, right out your bedroom window. In many areas of Montecito, we average just one or two homes per football field. 

For perspective, a football field is about 1.3 acres. 

Beyond our natural advantages, I challenge you to find a town to live in that is as beautiful, well located and popular as Montecito – a village whose many basic conveniences are nevertheless surrounded by our natural wonders. Montecito is a place where, on a Monday at 2 pm, a person (me) can accomplish seven errands – from home driveway to out-and-about and home again – in a scant 47 minutes (true). Dry cleaner, juice bar, Pavilions, post office, gas station, car wash… the outing even included  a relaxed coffee and greeting-card purchase at Pierre Lafond on my way home.

If you live here in Montecito or have ever looked at houses in the area, you are likely aware that there are many different neighborhoods within Montecito’s greater 93108, each offering their own charm, advantages, and distinct personality. From Fernald Point at the beach, to Eucalyptus Hill overlooking it all, to the historic estates, open spaces and creeks near Cold Springs Road, through the Golden Quadrangle and toward the ranches and multi-acre view homes along Toro Canyon Road, it’s all good in this ’hood.

While writing about these many neighborhoods, I do apologize in advance if you feel I’ve left out any area or gotten the vibe wrong. I’ve grown to know the best of each area over my 22 years living here, visiting family in Montecito and Mission Canyon since childhood, raising our daughter here, and being in and out of dozens of homes on as many streets in town. 

What follows is a brief, yet hopefully thorough tour of Montecito and her greater 93108. We will start on the west side of Montecito, on the edge of Santa Barbara, then continue through central Montecito, the beach and hills, and onto the private gated communities and the more rural homes and estates in East Montecito. While Montecito is within the 93108 zip code, not all homes within the 93108 are within the Montecito school districts. Check with schools for attendance requirements.

If you are currently looking for a home in Montecito, I hope this overview is helpful in defining an area that might suit you (or your pocketbook) best, and I am here to help if you need a guide through the process of buying (or finding) a home in the area.

Please note that some properties featured may go into escrow or sell outright before you read this, and others may have a price reduction in time. And though the lending rates are at a 15+/- year high and first-time buyers who need a loan are often at a loss, Montecito continues to contradict the idea that higher rates affect purchase prices, as many purchases are all cash here in the 93108. 

Through the first six months of 2024, the 93108 has held steady in terms of sales numbers and still strong with sales prices, from entry-level homes to estates, with multiple homes selling each month in all price ranges. That said, we are, for the first time in years, seeing multiple price reductions on some listings before those homes find a buyer. 

Keep your eyes on my for 93108 listings, as I feature many homes on the market and update constantly between my articles here in the Montecito Journal. Please note that in the tour that follows, there are three homes priced at $7,495,000, so compare and decide which one you like best for the buck. Enjoy the tour.

Eucalyptus Hill

Connecting the Cold Spring School / Westmont College area to the views along Alston Road, with the city, beaches and entertainment of Santa Barbara just around the corner to the west, and Montecito’s Lower Village nearby, Eucalyptus Hill neighborhood homes are coveted for their location and views. Rolling foothills, commanding vistas, historic properties and new or remodeled view estates abound, mixed with more affordable ($3M’s and up) homes here and there. Homes in this neighborhood may be in the Cold Spring or Cleveland School Districts depending on street and location.

Cold Spring School 

680 Cowles Road – $7,495,000 – Andalusian-inspired ocean and mountain-view residence in the foothills, includes 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and a pool on just under an acre, only a block from and within the Cold Spring School District.

In this neighborhood, just north-ish of Eucalyptus Hill is the Cold Spring School neighborhood, which includes properties in and around Cold Spring School, Westmont College, and Lotusland. Smaller, low-traffic neighborhood streets (Chelham, Paso Robles, etc.) with smaller homes, rest at the foot of larger homes and significant historic estates along East Mountain Drive, Cold Springs Road, Ashley Road and others. 

Riven Rock 

840 Riven Rock Road – $7,495,000 – compelling, contemporary, extensively remodeled home of nearly 4,000 square feet rests on a 1.17-acre lot with a lovely setting and offers 4 bedrooms, 3 and a half bathrooms and is located within the Montecito Union School District.

Just west of the Cold Spring area is the neighborhood known as Riven Rock, where homes rest on the site of a once-historic property, long since imagined into a fairy tale of a neighborhood with winding streets, larger lots, privacy, and an old-world feel (or so I opine). Signature hedged lanes and low-traffic streets with stone walls line the neighborhood. The street that runs from the Hot Springs Trail past the Riven Rock neighborhood is named Riven Rock, but many homes on the east side of that street are not within the Riven Rock hedged walls. The featured home here is one of these homes, just a few doors from the estates along East Mountain Drive. 

Sycamore Canyon

2775 Sycamore Canyon Road – $6,495,000 – Two impressive structures (one new and one remodeled) resting on a one-acre lot offer a total of 3 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, a 2-car garage and a significant amount of guest parking, all in the Cold Spring School District.

Sycamore Canyon is a neighborhood (as well as a main road) that stretches from the intersection at Middle Road and Hot Springs near the Lower Village, connecting most of Montecito to the Cold Spring and Eucalyptus Hill areas, and the backroads into Santa Barbara. Along Sycamore Canyon and Camino Viejo (also in this area) are small lanes with homes on lower-traffic streets. This area is very convenient to everything  – arguably a central taking-off point before heading north, south, east, or west. From here it’s just a few minutes to wherever you are going in the 93108.

Pepper Hill

1157 Glenview Road – $7,250,000 – This home, and the one next to it, are the only properties for sale on Pepper Hill. Purchase this remodeled home on its own, or together with the Spanish-style pool home next door at 1151 Glenview. Both are available for $15,000,000. Cold Spring School District.

Just below and beside Sycamore Canyon Road and above Alston Road, Pepper Hill proudly rises, offering lovely ocean views in one area and amazing mountain views from the other. These homes all share a close-to-everything location, and the feeling that comes from being in a private enclave of homes on less travelled streets. Originally an early 1900s estate on 36.5 acres named “Pepper Hill” for the many pepper trees adorning the ocean-view property, it was later parceled into mostly one-acre lots in the 1960s, and still retains the original stone gateposts at each entrance to the enchanting Pepper Hill neighborhood. 

The Lower Village / Middle Road / Montecito Oaks

The Lower Village would include, for the most part, the homes at Montecito Oaks off Olive Mill Road and those along Olive Mill Road in the east, and below Hot Springs Road as it runs from Casa Dorinda (high-end retirement digs) toward Montecito’s Country Mart in the west and down to the 101 Freeway. I am including the Montecito Oaks neighborhood based on proximity to Coast Village Road (Montecito Oaks known also as the Trick or Treat neighborhood). Homes in the Middle Road and Montecito Oaks area are just blocks from Coast Village Road and the beach and most homes in this area are in the Montecito Union School District.

There are currently no homes or condos for sale in the Lower Village.

The Beach Area

34 Seaview Drive – Top Floor Penthouse Condo – $3,780,000 – Located in the Montecito Shores complex by the beach this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,731 square-foot, top-floor, ocean-view condo is in the Montecito Union School District. Tennis, pool, and gorgeous oceanfront entertaining areas are yours in this oceanside community.

Montecito’s 93108 beach neighborhood is basically everything on the ocean side of the 101 freeway from the edge of Summerland at Sheffield Drive / Ortega Ridge in the East to Santa Barbara’s famed East Beach in the West. Within this ~ 1.5 mile stretch of sand, aside from the few dozen oceanfront homes, there are multiple mini-communities existing within the stated boundaries, including condo communities with all the amenities, clusters of smaller condos and townhomes, 1+ acre oceanfront estates, etc.; not to mention the famed Miramar and Butterfly Beaches. Montecito’s Beach Area homes are in the Montecito Union School District.

The Hedgerows 

830 Picacho Lane – $39,425,000 – Through impressive gates near the top of Picacho, find this 9-bedroom, 13-bathroom home of over 14,000 square feet. Enjoy pool and tennis on 3.4 acres. This home is in the Montecito Union School district, and shares the lane with multiple other sales over $20 million – and over $30 million in recent weeks/months, and since 2020.

Charming Homes and Mature Hedges define this neighborhood, just blocks over the freeway from the Rosewood at Miramar Beach, and near to Crane School, Laguna Blanca School’s Lower Campus, and Montecito Union School. The Hedgerows feature lovely botanic properties with mostly level lots and quaint streets with historic properties peppered here and there, some dating back to the late 1800s, that have been lovingly restored. A popular area close to schools, the beach, and both Upper and Lower Villages.

2125 Ten Acre Road – $11,200,000 – This 4-bedroom, 3-and-a-half bathroom French Country home is over 3,700 square feet, resting on a 1.4-acre lot in a prime location, adjacent to the golf course on a cul-de-sac lane. There is stonework throughout the home, a motor court, private patios and truly lovely gardens.

Central Montecito 

This area runs from Olive Mill Road in the west over to San Ysidro Road in the east and above the Hedgerows. An area that includes Montecito Union School, the luxurious retirement community at Casa Dorinda, and everything below East Valley Road between Hot Springs and San Ysidro Roads. This is a very desirable area with many multiple-acre properties, very close to schools and the Upper Village. 

The Upper Village / The Golden Quadrangle 

888 Lilac Drive – $29,995,000 – One of the premiere estates on the market in Montecito and one of only a few available offerings with over 13,000 square feet of living space and over two acres of land with ocean views, a theatre, exercise room, guest house and all the rest. This home is in the Montecito Union School District.

The boundaries of the long-referenced Golden Quadrangle are commonly agreed to extend from Park Lane in the east to Hot Springs Road in the west, and from East Valley Road in the south to East Mountain Drive / Oak Creek Canyon and the San Ysidro Ranch in the north. Many larger homes on larger lots dominate these streets, where sales over $10 million are the norm. There are, however, a few small-to-medium-sized homes on the market right now – around, and even under, $10 million in this area. Homes in the Golden Quadrangle are within the Montecito Union School District and surround the Upper Village. There are a sprinkling of condos, townhomes and cottages that come on the market from time to time. 

Birnam Wood

Birnam Wood has become very popular over the past few years. Guard-gated, Birnam Wood offers golf and tennis, and lies within the Montecito Union School District. Birnam Wood is a member-only residential golf community and country club where, in purchasing a home in the neighborhood, one is also joining the country club and becoming part of the Birnam Wood community. Exit the Birnam Wood gate and you are a mere half-dozen blocks from the Upper Village.

Romero Canyon / Lilac Drive

Near Birnam Wood – above East Valley Road from Buena Vista to Stonehouse Lane in the east and up to the mountains – we find the Lilac/Romero Canyon neighborhood. Here you get that rural feeling; rolling hills, larger lots, yet still close to town. Homes in this area are for the most part within the Montecito Union School District, and the area offers a mix of modern and historic estates as well as elevated ocean views on Lilac, Romero and Bella Vista. There are some smaller properties on smaller streets along East Valley Road, offering entry-level Montecito homes starting around $2,000,000 (rarely offered). 


1800 Jelinda Drive – $8,395,000 – Enjoy nearly 6,000 square feet of open airy living space in this Barry Berkus designed home on just over two acres. Guard-gated, these manicured grounds feature an impressive approach, guest parking, tennis, pool, and the amenities that come with being part of the Ennisbrook community.

Home to many ocean-view estates – just a few blocks up from the sparkling Pacific, South of Birnam Wood, Valley Club and the Romero/Lilac area – is the guard-gated community of Ennisbrook. Being a homeowner here includes access to the shared amenities such as tennis, swimming and the social clubhouse. Also, there are 18 rarely available homes at The Ennisbrook Casitas and Clubhouse, which are 2,700’ish to 3,500’ish square-foot homes on smaller lots with their own shared pool and clubhouse. Homes at Ennisbrook are within the Montecito Union School District.

East Montecito – Ladera Lane / Toro Canyon 

2868 East Valley Road – $4,495,000 – On a shared private lane with easy access and off-street parking, find this San Ysidro Ranch style home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms on an acre with a chef’s kitchen, sunroom, outdoor pizza oven, gardens, a cool chicken coop and pathways with patios galore.

Closest to LA for those who commute, and the most rural area of the 93108, this neighborhood of East Montecito runs from Ortega Ridge, Freehaven and Ladera Lane in the west, to Toro Canyon in the east. Notable private lanes along the way include Cima Del Mundo, Cima Vista Lane (rarely, if ever, is a home available on either of these private estate lanes), and Hidden Valley Lane, with rolling foothills and many lovely ocean view homes on mostly larger lots. Many properties in this part of the 93108 have views, privacy and often more than one acre, and are just a quick drive down to the beach and the 101, or along East Valley Road into the Upper
Village in Montecito. 

I do hope this tour gave you a glimpse into the feel and advantages of each neighborhood in Montecito’s 93108. Happy summer ahead and keep Montecito friendly!


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