Ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, it is no wonder that Montecito, California serves as home to many celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Drew Barrimore, Ellen DeGeneres and Ty Warner. Much like many other areas of Santa Barbara County, residents of Montecito enjoy a cool Mediterranean climate with ample sunshine. The area is in close proximity to two public schools, three golf courses, two private tennis clubs, a YMCA, and several of my favorite beaches, hiking trails, and restaurants. Located within ten miles of State Street, and just a few minutes from downtown Santa Barbara, residents of Montecito enjoy the luxury of southern California without the hassle of many tourists, crowds, and traffic. Quite a bit of Montecito is hidden behind gates and stone walls, and it takes time or a great guide for the area to unfold and show its secrets to newcomers.
Montecito has two main commercial centers, the Upper Village and Coast Village Road, also called the Lower Village. Located within Upper Village are a variety of grocery stores, gas stations, jewelry stores, hair salons, real estate and brokerage firms, coffee shops, restaurants, and other offices and boutiques. Coast Village Road serves as home to numerous restaurants, banks, boutique shops, art galleries, hotels, jewelry stores, and many other commercial spaces, including our Village Properties office! Often compared to Rodeo Drive of Beverly Hills, Coast Village Road is a frequent spot for Montecito citizens.
Some of California’s best public and private schools are located in Montecito. Two top ranked public elementary schools, Montecito Union and Cold Springs, as well as five private schools are within the area. Montecito also serves as home to Westmont College, a 1,200-student liberal arts college, and Pacifica University, and is situated just minutes from UC Santa Barbara, a top-ranked University of California, and my alma mater.
Aside from the exceptional education system, Montecito serves as home to a number of unique hiking trails, beaches, and architecture. Montecito residents are in close proximity to hiking spots such as Cold Springs, Romero Canyon, and many more trails. I enjoy walking, beach-going, and surfing the nearby beaches, such as Butterfly, Hammonds, Miramar, and Padaro. Montecito residents also enjoy the luxury of historical estates and architecture. Many famous architects such as Bertram Goodhue, Reginald Johnson, and George Washington Smith produced pieces that still stand in Montecito today.
If you’re looking for a great breakfast place in Montecito, I often ride my bike to Tre Lune, a delicious Italian restaurant on Coast Village Road. Via Vai is another Italian restaurant renowned for their delicious pizza and classic Italian fare. Coast Village Road serves as home to Sakana, one of my favorite Montecito sushi restaurants, and the Biltmore and San Ysidro Ranch are also nearby with their great dining.
*Painting by Chris Potter*
Birnam Wood neighborhood is Montecito’s only gated residential community resting on a golf course. Nestled nearby the charming Upper Village area that is full of renowned restaurants, quaint boutiques, and local businesses.
Birnam Wood was developed in the 1970’s, currently consisting of 142 properties and 2-3 vacant undeveloped lots. There is a blend of architectural themes amongst these single-family homes and estates, such as French Normandy, Cottage, Ranch, and Contemporary, but the community requires all properties to be single level. A majority of the homes rest along the golf course on one acre lots, although a section of the grounds may inhibit the road or golf course itself.
Estates in this community enjoy views of the golf course, local Santa Ynez Mountains, and some have peeks of ocean.
Developed in 1968, the 18-hole golf course is made up of 5,890 yards of Bermuda grass with a par of 70, and was designed my Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Residents of Birnam Wood can utilize the beautiful club house and 6 tennis courts – 4 hard courts and 2 clay courts. This private community requires buyers to purchase a corporate membership to the Birnam Wood Golf Club, presently priced at $85,000 with $545 monthly membership dues and $285 Home Owner’s Association dues.
Homes in this area range from $3 million up to $15 million.
This exclusive gated community rests in Montecito, exuding relaxed elegance and glamorous lifestyle. In the mid-1800s the Dominquez family was granted 365 acres of pueblo land. Down the road in 1916, the ranch was owned by Herbert C. Cox who famously named the property Ennisbrook. Cox was responsible for expanding the original property to maintain 2 polo fields. When the renowned polo player Elmer Boeske purchased the property in later years, the community became quite popular for its polo fields as a main attraction. In the 1920’s and 1930’s visitors included Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and Fred Astaire.
In 1988, Santa Barbara County approved the proposal to build 63 estates that have expanded to 102 homes that currently stand today. Resting on 1 to 3 acre parcels, the estates in this private community boast breathtaking views of the ocean and mountains. This community contains beautiful landscaping and exclusive privacy with plenty of nature and space including over 50 acres of open land.
The center piece of the community is the clubhouse, reminiscent of the Spanish Colonial Adobe, providing multiple amenities including 4 tennis courts- 2 standard courts and 2 clay courts, swimming pool, wine lockers storage, kitchen and BBQ area.
Along with the glamorous estates that occupy this unique community, Ennisbrook contains 18 Spanish-style Casitas which are surrounded by lush trees. In this unique area there is a separate Casitas gym and pool.
This private community is located in the heart of Montecito. This area is one of Montecito’s most desirable neighborhoods, centrally situated between the Upper and Lower Villages with renowned restaurants and shops, close to Miramar beach, Montecito Union Elementary School and close by the Crane School. This neighborhood is located by the YMCA and Manning Park, as well.
Most estates in this neighborhood were originally built in the early 1900s and have since been updated and/or expanded. The majority of these historical homes have beautiful mountain views and embrace the California indoor-outdoor lifestyle. There is a blend of architectural styles in the area including French Normandy, California Cottage, French Pavilion, Monterey Colonial, Contemporary, and Ranch-style to name just a few.