Cristal's Blog


June 8, 2023

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When it comes to breathtaking California beach towns, Montecito is a hidden gem that captivates the hearts of locals and tourists alike. Recently, Pure Wow, a popular digital media company that provides lifestyle content for women, recognized Montecito as one of the "18 Most Charming Beach Towns in California," and it's not hard to see why. With its picturesque beaches, celebrity sightings, culinary delights, captivating architecture, luxury lodging and delightful town center, Montecito has it all.

A birds eye view of the coastal town of Montecito with the mountains in the background and the ocean in the foreground

What Makes Montecito So Alluring?

  1. Pristine Beaches and Royal Residences
    Montecito's allure begins with its stunning coastline. The beaches here are known for their pristine beauty, offering a perfect retreat for relaxation and enjoyment under the California sun. This coastal paradise recently gained global attention when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle decided to settle here, trading in their British Royal life for the tranquil beauty of Montecito. You might even catch a glimpse of the couple, often seen enjoying the sand with their son Archie.

    A birds eye view of Coast Village Road, the picturesque street in Montecito, showing white buildings with red tile roofs and a landscaped boulevard

  2. Charming Town Center
    Montecito's Coast Village Road is a charming and vibrant thoroughfare that serves as the heart of the community. This picturesque street, just a couple blocks from beautiful Butterfly Beach, offers a delightful mix of upscale shops, fine dining establishments, and cozy cafes. Embellished with tasteful, manicured landscaping, Coast Village Road exudes a welcoming ambiance. Its distinctive fashion boutiques, art galleries, gourmet food markets and specialty shops provide something to satisfy upscale tastes and interests

    Looking in to the dining room at Lucky's Restaurant, with tables set with white linens and windows to the kitchen with a waiter prepping
    Image courtesy of Lucky’s

3. Culinary Delights
Montecito boasts an exceptional food scene with a wide range of choices, from charming cafés to fine dining establishments. Lucky's steakhouse, for example, is a local favorite, where you can savor mouthwatering culinary treats while immersing yourself in the sophisticated atmosphere of this iconic establishment. Next door, Coast & Olive offers a Mediterranean culinary experience, serving up delectable dishes in a warm and inviting setting. Jeannine's Bakery is a beloved café that has delighted locals and visitors for many years. This family-owned establishment is renowned for its delectable pastries, and mouthwatering breakfast and lunch options.

Rosewood Miramar Beach resort buildings on the beach, with a stunning sunset in the background
Image courtesy of Rosewood Miramar Beach

4. Luxury Lodging
When it comes to accommodating friends or relatives, you'll find an array of amazing hotels and resorts that cater to the upscale nature of this jewel among California beach towns. These establishments offer luxurious amenities, impeccable service, and a tranquil atmosphere

  • Rosewood Miramar Beach
    Situated on an expansive beachfront property, the Rosewood Miramar Beach offers a blend of classic sophistication and modern comfort. Guests can enjoy spacious rooms, exquisite dining options, a spa, fitness center, and access to a private beach, ensuring a truly indulgent experience.
  • San Ysidro Ranch
    Known for its romantic ambiance and secluded setting, San Ysidro Ranch is a historic gem nestled in the Montecito foothills. This intimate resort features charming cottages, picturesque gardens, and a renowned restaurant, providing an idyllic retreat for your guests.
  • Belmond El Encanto
    Perched high in the hills of Montecito-adjacent Santa Barbara’s “Riviera” neighborhood, Belmond El Encanto offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Barbara coastline. This elegant resort boasts luxurious accommodations, a spa, infinity pool, and a gourmet restaurant that showcases local flavors, creating a truly enchanting experience.
  • Montecito Inn
    This boutique hotel, originally founded by Charlie Chaplin, offers a blend of history and modern comfort. Guests can enjoy comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and proximity to Montecito's charming town center.

    Oprah Winfrey, with a big smile sitting in a pink top with a microphone clipped to it

    5. Celebrity Lifestyle
    Montecito has long been a sought-after destination for celebrities seeking a peaceful and luxurious lifestyle away from the bustling city. The allure of Montecito's natural beauty, privacy, and exclusive neighborhoods has attracted numerous notable personalities, making it a hub for celebrity residents.

    One of the most prominent names associated with Montecito is media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who has established a sprawling estate in the area. Oprah's presence in Montecito has brought attention to the town and contributed to its reputation as an enclave for the rich and famous.

    Another beloved talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, also calls this affluent California beach town home. Ellen and her wife, Portia de Rossi, have owned several homes and estates in the area, reflecting their refined taste and love for design and architecture. In addition to Oprah and Ellen, other celebrities have found their haven in Montecito. and Their presence in the community has undoubtedly added to the town's appeal and international recognition.

    The front view of a multi-level Montecito Estate at sunset, lit up from withinwith a red tiled roof and white stucco exterior surrounded by lush vegetation and the mountains in the background
    World Class Ocean View Montecito Estate

    6. Captivating Architecture
    Nestled between the stunning Santa Ynez Mountains and the sparkling Pacific Ocean, Montecito boasts a diverse range of architectural styles that blend seamlessly with the breathtaking natural surroundings. Characterized by a harmonious fusion of Spanish Colonial Revival, Mediterranean, and Contemporary designs, the architecture in Montercito creates a unique and visually captivating landscape. The city's charming streets are lined with handsome landscaping, sprawling estates, and elegant homes, each showcasing meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to preserving the area's rich architectural heritage. With its enchanting blend of timeless elegance and modern sophistication, Montecito's architecture is a testament to the city's allure and a true feast for the eyes of both residents and visitors alike.

    It's no wonder that Pure Wow recognized Montecito as one of the "18 Most Charming Beach Towns in California." There are many luxurious homes for sale here, as well as in the upscale communities that surround the coastal haven. You can find them listed on my comprehensive website. See something you like? If you’d like to take a tour or find out about exclusive pocket listings, call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at

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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