11 stops for a royal road trip around Montecito and Santa Barbara

While the village of Montecito gained notoriety when Oprah and Ellen moved to the area years ago, curiosity about this wealthy enclave has skyrocketed since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made it their home there. a few years old. The royal couple reportedly chose Montecito because of its small-town feel but close proximity to Los Angeles, which is about 90 miles south. It doesn’t hurt that many of the mansions that dot the hillside of the Santa Ynez Mountains offer sweeping views of the Pacific.

But Montecito is much more than that. For anyone planning a (royal) Pacific Coast Highway road trip, here are some places to check out if you want to live like a royal in Montecito and neighboring Santa Barbara, some of which were frequented by (former) members of the royal family themselves.

Where to stay

El Encanto, a Belmond Property, Santa Barbara

Spanish Colonial Architecture at El Encanto — Photo courtesy of El Encanto, A Belmon Property

Located in what was once dubbed the American Riviera due to its spectacular coastal views (similar to those of the French Riviera), El Encanto is a few miles north of Montecito, past the historic Mission Santa Barbara . The Spanish Colonial Revival and Craftsman rooms, suites, and bungalows are spread over seven acres that overlook the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Barbara Pier.

The property has been reinventing itself for over 100 years, most recently as a wellness destination. El Encanto’s spa has seven treatment rooms that include the option to receive a massage or facial while lying on an infrared mat designed to align with the body’s seven chakras. Guests are also invited to participate in a free weekly meditation in a sound bath with local expert, Cristy Candler.

San Ysidro Ranch

The Honeysuckle Cottage at San Ysidro RanchThe Honeysuckle Cottage at San Ysidro Ranch — Photo courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

Feeling royal will be easy for anyone checking in to this magical resort just a few miles from Harry and Meghan’s home base. Thirty-eight cottage suites along the banks of San Ysidro Creek and the resort’s 550 acres are surrounded by the lush flora and fauna of the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains. The property has logged an impressive guest list over its 129-year history, including Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, and Jackie and John F. Kennedy who honeymooned at the now aptly named Kennedy Cottage.

The resort’s restaurant, the Stonehouse, and the more casual Plow & Angel Pub are also said to be favorites of notable names like Julia Child, who calls Montecito home. The Stonehouse was also named the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning restaurant because its barrel-vaulted cellar houses 12,000 bottles, including a full vertical of 120 bottles of Château Pétrus de Pomerol with vintages dating back to 1945.

The Stonehouse Terrace at San Ysidro RanchThe Stonehouse Terrace at San Ysidro Ranch — Photo courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

For unrivaled private dining, guests can book dinner in the Old Adobe – a historic landmark dating back to 1825 – or in the soon-to-be-completed Dining Room built next to the Wine Cellar. Also of note: San Ysidro Ranch is believed to be the only resort in the country to provide an electric car charging station for each cabin.

Palihouse Santa Barbara

Palihouse Santa BarbaraPalihouse Santa Barbara — Photo courtesy of Palisociety

For those wishing to visit the area but are looking for a more central location, look no further than Palihouse Santa Barbara. This charming two-story boutique property is located in the Presidio neighborhood, just blocks from the pedestrian and shopping areas of Santa Barbara.

Dripping with soft, earth-toned furnishings, most rooms feel like tiny apartments with fireplaces, SMEG fridges, and Instagram-worthy bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Amenities include Linus bicycles made available to guests free of charge, free underground parking and a number of pet treats as part of their ‘Pawlsociety’.

Where to eat

the lark

the larkThe lark — Photo courtesy of Collin Dewell

A little bird may have mentioned that Harry and Meghan once dined in a private dining room at this trendy restaurant that was once a fish packing plant. In the heart of Santa Barbara’s artsy Funk Zone, Executive Chef Jason Paluska offers innovative dishes served family-style in a space that’s both industrial and artful.

The restaurant is named after an overnight Pullman train that served Santa Barbara in the early to mid-1900s, and the cocktail menu plays on that with drinks such as Twisted Trails (guava, lime, Dolin dry vermouth, cachaça Ypioca and sparkling wine). The menu has plenty of options for vegetarians and carnivores, including crispy Brussels sprouts with dates, sesame, garum and lime, and pork chops with caramelized peach and black peppercorn glaze with citrus-marinated fennel and pollen. .


Don’t be fooled by the mall appearance of the Montecito Country Mart because, despite the fact that the first thing people see is the retro Vons supermarket, there are plenty of treasures to discover in this mall where Meghan Markle was spotted occasionally. One such treasure is Bettina, an artisan pizzeria (with a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand designation) that specializes in rustic, naturally leavened, wood-fired pizzas using ingredients sourced directly from local farmers.

Pizzas include a stellar Prosciutto di Parma speckled with olives, rosemary, garlic and chili oil, and Root’s Corn Pizza with ‘nduja pork, mozzarella, goat cheese cheddar and walla onions. wallah. Don’t like pizza? Try the cacio e pepe arancini or the locally caught crudo. Menu items also include options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dinners.

Chaffinch and Fork

Colorful crudo at Finch & FourchetteColorful Crudo at Finch & Fork — Photo courtesy of Steve Legato

Downstairs at the Kimpton Canary Hotel is the newly refurbished Finch & Fork, where the laid-back vibe can give the false impression of simple, casual dining. Instead, executive chef Craig Riker has taken traditional dishes and given them a whimsical, fancy spin, like F&F deviled eggs that arrive looking like they’ve caught the sun. A coral-pink tinged egg white (from the beet marinade) is topped with a creamy filling and pickled shallots, Cajun maple pork belly and a sprinkle of chives creating a pleasantly festive balanced on the palate.

Seared dive scallops sit on a bed of dark green Acquerello risotto with serrano ham, artichokes and grana padano. This is definitely not your grandmother’s hotel lobby restaurant, unless your grandmother is a foodie.

Things to do

Hiking and cycling

Mad Dogs &  English bike shopMad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea

Given the region’s temperate climate and stunning beauty, it’s no surprise that Santa Barbara offers endless outdoor activities. In addition to miles and miles of hiking trails – both in the mountains and along the coast – there’s also a paved (and relatively flat) bike path that stretches from Montecito north along Butterfly Beach. and the coast of Santa Barbara.

On Montecito’s Coast Village Road, bike shop Mad Dogs & Englishmen rents a variety of bikes, including e-bikes that can help anyone zip through hills and past millionaire mansions. There are also some pristine and challenging hiking trails in the foothills, including the Inspiration Point and Gibraltar trails.

Museum life

Although Santa Barbara is a relatively small town, it offers an impressive array of cultural activities, including a range of museums that appeal to people of all ages – perhaps another reason why Harry and Meghan chose the area to their growing family.

These include the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and its seasonal exhibit Butterflies Alive (a favorite of Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom, who also live in the area), the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum , the MOXI Science Museum and the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf. , which turns 150 in 2022.

Historic House of the Herrero

The backyard of the Casa del HerreraThe backyard of Casa del Herrera — Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Dea

Built in 1925 for businessman and inventor George Fox Steedman, this Moorish-influenced Spanish Colonial home is now a historic landmark and one of the best remaining examples of the architecture for which Santa Barbara is known.

Designed by George Washington Smith, the house remains today as it was when the family lived there, furnished with unique antiques curated by architectural historian Arthur Byne (who also furnished Hearst Castle, by the way). passing). The Casa is closed to the public except for guided tours which can be booked in advance on Wednesdays or Saturdays.

Local polo matches

If you know anything about Prince Harry, you probably know that he is an avid polo player. Since moving to Montecito, Harry has been spotted playing with local polo clubs at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, one of the most prestigious equestrian venues in the United States. The club also offers events such as Ladies Hat Day. Most matches take place at weekends and tickets are required. They can be pre-arranged and purchased from the club’s website.

Shop Coast Village Road

Shop for local produce on Coast Village RoadShopping for local produce on Coast Village Road — Photo courtesy of Blake Bronstad

Every upscale neighborhood has its share of boutiques, bars, and bakeries, and in Montecito, these can be found on Coast Village Road, which runs along the Pacific Coast Highway. There are some notable cafes/bakeries (Bree’osh and Jeannine’s, to name a few) and trendy clothing boutiques such as Johnny Was.

The Sussexes were spotted frequenting a number of these local businesses, including Pierre Lafond Montecito Market and Lucky’s Steakhouse, where they dined with composer David Foster and singer Katherine McPhee shortly after moving to the neighborhood.

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