Cristal's Blog


November 11, 2022

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There are so many "Insta-worthy" Santa Barbara locations that professional and amateur photographers might find it challenging to decide where to put their focus. Let's face it—this area offers visual feasts for your eyes around every corner, through each paseo, and along our miles of sandy beaches. Case in point: the many opulent gardens, the Spanish-infused architecture, and, of course, our beautiful sunsets are all worthy of being branded #nofilter. One could say that Santa Barbara and its environs are a destination made for Instagram.

Here is a list of 7 of my favorite Insta-worthy places to photograph on the American Riviera:

Big full sun rising over the ocean

1) Inspiration Point & Lizard’s Mouth

    To take a photo-worthy trek, you don't need to be a seasoned hiker. So, no matter what level you are, how does kick-starting your day at Inspiration Point sound? You will get your heart rate going with this moderate 3.5-mile hike that offers some true inspiration -- from our amazing city to our incredible coastal views. Once you reach the top, you'll see the breathtaking views along with artwork left by other hikers who use rocks to make words or symbols. You may want to leave your own masterpiece behind. Be sure to take a picture and share it!

    Another great hike is Lizard’s Mouth, offering more of a boulder-hopping experience than a simple trail hike. Hop from stone to stone before the sunsets to witness and share jaw-dropping views at what many photographers call the golden hour. You will feel on top of the world, and so will your followers.

    A field of California poppies at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden.

    2) Lotusland & Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

    Explore and snap selfies at one of the world’s best gardens. Just wander the 5 miles of easy trails in this 78-acre wild-crafted garden designed with California native plants. This 37-acre botanical nirvana is the place to put your camera to work after ensuring you have enough storage and battery life because you will leave with hundreds of photos. Be forewarned: you will want to share every one of them, and with the new slideshow feature on Instagram, you can.

      Another excellent photo stop is the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. This unique natural attraction is filled with California native plants and is open to the public 365 days a year. And a reservation is not required to enjoy this beauty.

      Front view of Casa Del Herrero historic house and museum in Montecito CA Santa Barbara's most admired home designers, George Washington Smith.

      3) Casa Del Herrero

        You do need to make reservations to tour and photograph the Moorish-style gardens at Casa Del Herrero. Designed by one of Santa Barbara's most admired home designers, George Washington Smith, this Spanish Colonial Revival estate has remained essentially unchanged since its completion in 1925.

        Smith is credited as the founding father of the California Movement in Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. He and his artistic sensibility made a lasting impact on the look and feel of our area. You’ll want to take pictures of everything, from the antique furnishings to the stunning gardens. Even the colorful tile work is worth a shot.

        Sunset over boats moored at the Santa Barbara Harbor

        4) Santa Barbara Harbor

        Photos from the Santa Barbara Harbor always top the photographer's Instagram feed with likes. That's because you will find beauty everywhere when you visit. So go ahead and snap pictures of the rows of boats or capture picture-perfect reflections from the walkway around the harbor. There's plenty of parking there, although finding a spot during the busy summer can be a bit of a challenge (but worth it!).

          You'll also see and snap the dozens of cormorants and other sea birds that hover above the boats waiting for their close-ups. When you visit for sunrise, your photos will come alive with wisps of fog or the beautiful colors of the Santa Barbara sky. However, sunset is always a good time to snap photos, too.

          Archway over the portico of the Santa Barbara courthouse

          5) Santa Barbara County Courthouse

          How many places can brag about spectacular 360-degree views from their local courthouse? Santa Barbara can, with our 85-foot El Mirador Clock Tower. The courthouse offers photographers many places to snap unique photos of its Spanish tiles or stunning murals. Take in the views and snap pictures of our Spanish-style red-tiled rooftops from the courthouse. With a decent zoom lens, you can also catch a shot of the ocean from the viewing deck.This is also a great place to capture that iconic California shot of a row of palm trees.

          From there, you can see the palms that line Shoreline Drive while capturing a sliver of the ocean beyond. Other stunning views to behold include city buildings and homes against the backdrop of the mountains. Go early to avoid jostling for the best spots on the deck.

          Aerial view of Sterns Wharf at sunrise with a stunning orange sky

          6) Stearns Wharf

          Enjoy two scenic Santa Barbara photo locations in one when you visit Stearns Wharf. First, snap away as you stroll the waterfront walkway along Cabrillo Boulevard. Next, head to the end of the pier with your camera for spectacular images of the ocean and islands, the city, and the mountains. You'll showcase a real survivor because the wharf has made it through storms, earthquakes, and fires. As the most-visited landmark in Santa Barbara, the waterfront walkway does get pretty crowded during the day. The best times to visit are sunrise, pre-dawn, and late evening.

          Sunset at a Santa Barbara beach with tall palm trees

          7) Hendry’s Beach & Montecito’s Butterfly Beach

            Morning, noon, and night, the beaches of Santa Barbara are always Insta-worthy spots. Take your pick of any of the area's white sandy beaches, and I promise you will leave with photos that will make your followers jealous. One of my favorite Santa Barbara locations is Hendry’s Beach. Not only will you get amazing shots of the ocean, but you can also snap images of dogs playing in the surf because this is a dog-friendly beach.

            Then there is Montecito's Butterfly Beach, with a stunning coastline from east to west. An early evening shot there guarantees a swoon-worthy sunset to share.

            What are your favorite Insta-worthy Santa Barbara locations? I'd love some recommendations. So check out my Instagram page, and please share with me some of your favorite shots from the American Riviera.

            Want to take photos at some Insta-worthy homes for sale in the area? If you’re looking to buy, please call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at I'll find you the perfect home near any of the most Instagram-worthy locations in any of the upscale Santa Barbara communities.

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            Client Reviews

            “It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

            - J & A

            “Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

            - M.F.

            “Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

            - P.B.

            “We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

            - T.C.

            “Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

            - D.R.

            “I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

            - M.A.

            “Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

            - D.K.

            “Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

            - S.N. Decker Ph.D.

            “Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

            - Johan and Paula van den Berg

            “Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

            - John and Lacey Williams

            “After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

            - Michael & Nancy Lee

            “Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

            - Richard and Catherine Frinier

            “Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

            - Laurie Siegel

            “We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

            - Ken Saffir

            “Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

            - Michael & Susan Marquart

            “A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

            - Rob & Judi Kelch