Travel

Santa Barbara

Establishment neighborhood
Garde in Summerland
2280 Lillie Ave., Summerland
While it wouldn’t look out of place in Copenhagen, the understated craft feel that permeates this Shaker-style 1920s barn is pure California. Owner Scotti Sitz excels not only at curating the exact pieces we want for our homes but at transforming a shopping excursion into an immersive experience. Garde is speckled with local ceramics and minimalist furniture by German and Belgian designers, like Hanns-Peter Krafft, alongside exquisite rugs by Faye Toogood. But the best part is you can actually sleep here. Sitz has transformed the upstairs space into an apartment where the décor changes seasonally and everything, down to the fixtures, is for sale. Spend the night soaking up the ocean views—the store is perched on the edge of a cliff—and sleep on whether you should buy the Douglas fir table downstairs.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
8301 Hollister Ave., Goleta
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, is not lacking in the natural beauty department. And in fact, what sets it apart from the other Santa Barbara hotels is this immediate connection to nature: You can leave your room and walk directly to the beach without dodging traffic or even crossing any streets. It’s the only resort in Santa Barbara with such prime waterfront real estate (seventy-eight acres of it), and it's used to great effect. The hotel will arrange surf or sailing lessons, there are hiking trails to see the region’s flora and fauna firsthand, and tide pools are ready for exploration with one of the expert naturalists. As you’d expect from a Ritz-Carlton, guest rooms are super plush—we love the huge beds with their Frette linens, and the marble bathrooms are the size of some studio apartments.
Oliver’s
1198 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
Oliver’s is the kind of upscale vegetarian restaurant we wish would open in LA (preferably next to goop HQ). Thanks to Santa Barbara’s balmy climate, indoor-outdoor dining makes sense. At Oliver’s, the transition is seamless—the warm wood and blue-grey of the interior opens out onto a tree-laden patio strung with lights, and the long French doors are always open to catch the breeze. Dishes like sweet potatoes smothered in herbs and chili, jackfruit tacos, and nutty, toasted farro risotto with fried sage are satisfying and so tasty. The cocktails—made with cold-press juice, kombucha, and premium-grade liquor—are practically virtuous, and the enchanted-treehouse vibe, especially in the early spring, is irresistible.
Chaplin’s Martini Bar
1295 Coast Village Rd., Montecito
Montecito needed Chaplin’s. The martini bar fills the lonely space left by the closure of Frankland’s Crab and Co. in the storied Montecito Inn. Owners Phillip and Margarita Lee wanted a place that was elegant, moody, and evocative of old Hollywood as much for themselves as for the locals. Chaplin’s evokes a bygone era with its dark walls, red drapes, and plush leather booths. It’s a moody, glamorous spot for a martini (or whatever you’re drinking). The menu is, of course, inspired by what Charlie Chaplin himself might have ordered in the ’20s and ’30s when he was knocking around Santa Barbara. Gin abounds in old-timey cocktails like the corpse reviver with lemon and dry curaçao or the French 75, which we’re especially keen on (the sparkling wine and lemon keep it light). That’s not to suggest that whiskey lovers should get panicky. The Sazerac-style Vieux Carré cocktail—a muddle of Old Overhold rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, and vermouth—is all you need with a dish of olives before dinner.
Jennifer Freed
[email protected]
While her day job is running the incredible Santa Barbara non-profit, AHA, Jennifer Freed, Ph.D is an incredible astrologer, particularly because she pairs her understanding of the stars with her background as a therapist. A reading with Freed isn't simply about destiny, it's about what the application of that destiny might look and feel like, and how to step into it. As Freed explains at the opening of every reading, astrology isn't about what must happen, it's about what is possible for you.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
728 State St., Downtown
Founded in Santa Barbara by a husband and wife team more than 70 years ago, McConnell's still uses many of the same farms and purveyors they did when they first began. You’ll find flavors ranging from sea salt cookies and cream to lemon and marionberry, as well as top-notch traditional flavors like mint chip and vanilla bean. If you can’t make it to this shop, you can find pints in many upscale grocery stores, and also at LA outposts in Studio City and Downtown LA.
Sky Ranch at Bacara
8301 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara
Just north of Santa Barbara, Bacara is the only resort in the area that's directly on the beach, which means that you get some pretty epic sunsets over dinner. While all of the rooms are getting refurbished, they're comfortable without being fussy—and if you participate in one of the Sky Ranch Fitness weeks, you won't be spending much time in them. These week-long wellness weeks revolve around daily hikes through the Santa Ynez and Gaviota mountains, coaching from nutritionists, doctors, and physiologists, as well as gym time: In addition to a four-story spa, Bacara offers a huge (by hotel standards) fitness center, complete with Pilates Reformers and spin bikes. Don't worry: Each week comes with restorative spa sessions, too. While many (healthy) meals happen on-site (the Spa Café is excellent), they also take you out and about in Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, Bacara is a great place for kids. There's a mini-beach adjacent to the pools (complete with tons of toys), kids menus at all the restaurants, and plenty of acreage to explore. They also rent out boogie boards, paddle boards, and surf boards.
Cos Bar
1253 Coast Village Rd., Suite 203
The only thing better than Cos Bar's famously vast offering of makeup, fragrance, bath, and beauty products (including the newly-launched goop organic skincare line) is the exceptional customer service provided by the knowledgeable, genuinely nice beauty consultants, which is exactly how founder Lily Garfield envisioned it back in 1976 when she opened the original Aspen outpost. There are Cos Bars all over the country, including New York, La Jolla, and Scottsdale.
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