Cristal's Blog


December 18, 2023

Back to Articles

Santa Barbara and Montecito, nestled along the breathtaking Central Coast of California, are renowned for their world-class estates, stunning landscapes, and a lifestyle that exudes sophistication. At the heart of this coastal haven lie the private clubs that epitomize exclusivity, providing residents with a rarified blend of luxury, camaraderie, and unsurpassed amenities. Serving as social sanctuaries, they are at the center of affluent socialization and recreation here.

A birds eye view of the Montecito Club, with the large white clubhouse sitting amidst emerald green golf course, trees, and mountains and blue sky in the background.
Image courtesy of the Montecito Club

A Sense of Belonging: Private Clubs Enhance Santa Barbara's Residential Appeal

In communities such as Montecito and Santa Barbara, private clubs play a pivotal role in the allure of everyday life. Beyond fostering camaraderie, these clubs are dedicated to enriching their members' lives through a spectrum of pioneering programs and curated experiences spanning the realms of culinary indulgence, athletic pursuits, and intellectual and creative exploration. They are integral contributors to the continuous delight and enhancement of everyday life, adding a profound sense of belonging to Santa Barbara's residential appeal. Following are some of my favorites.

1. Montecito Club: A Premier Destination for Socializing and Recreation, Montecito Club stands as a symbol of the elevated lifestyle that defines Montecito. This private club offers a comprehensive range of amenities, including a championship golf course, tennis courts, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Members can unwind in the lavish spa, dine in style at the club's restaurant, and partake in various social events that foster a sense of community. The Montecito Club is not just a club; it's a lifestyle that embodies the essence of luxury living.

Looking over the pool at the Coral Casino Beach Club, with the clubhouse, ocean and sky in the background.
Image courtesy of the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club

2. Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club: A Beachfront Oasis
Perched along the pristine coastline of Santa Barbara, the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club is a haven of seaside sophistication. With a history dating back to the 1930s, this private beach club offers its members exclusive access to a sparkling Olympic-size pool, private cabanas, and direct access to Butterfly Beach. Members can immerse themselves in a world of relaxation and leisure, indulging in world-class dining and unrivaled ocean views.

3. The Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club: A Regal Oasis of Sport and Social Splendor
Regarded as one of the oldest and most prestigious clubs of its kind in the United States, the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club beckons polo enthusiasts and royalty alike from around the globe. Boasting the country's longest polo season, the club sets the stage for thrilling matches held seasonally from May through mid-October. Polo pros, including those of royal distinction, grace this destination club, creating an atmosphere of unparalleled sporting elegance.

4. Birnam Wood Golf Club: Where Elegance Meets Championship Golf
Nestled in the foothills of Montecito, the Birnam Wood Golf Club boasts a picturesque Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed 18-hole golf course that winds through lush landscapes, providing members with an exceptional golfing experience. Beyond the greens, Birnam Wood offers a luxurious clubhouse, fine dining, and a sense of community that fosters lasting connections among its distinguished members.

American and SBC flags hang above the entrance of the Santa Barbara Club
Image courtesy of The Santa Barbara Club

5. The Santa Barbara Club: A Storied Haven of Elegance
Nestled in the heart of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Club proudly holds the title of the oldest social club in the city, dating back to its establishment in 1892. This historic gem boasts a clubhouse with state and local historic landmark status. It has played host to distinguished community members and guests throughout the decades, attracting academics rather than trust funders.

6. Miramar Club: Where Coastal Elegance Meets Unparalleled Luxury
Miramar Club transcends expectations, offering its discerning members access to exceptional cuisine, 5-star athletic and spa facilities, personalized concierge service, and a calendar brimming with thoughtfully curated events and programming. Here, amidst the laid-back luxury that defines Southern Californian flavor, Miramar Club stands as a haven for select members and their families — a true home-away-from-home, where warmth, hospitality, and stunning natural beauty converge to create an unparalleled living experience.

The exterior of the UCSB University Club, dramatically lighted at night and complemented by palm trees.
Image courtesy of The University Club of Santa Barbara

7. The University Club of Santa Barbara: A Welcoming Place to Connect, Celebrate, and Grow
Founded in 1919 and located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, the University Club of Santa Barbara boasts a rich tradition of vibrant and engaging activities, events, and social clubs. The University Club is known for being a warm, welcoming space for its members and guests, and for the exclusive professional and social networking opportunities on offer. The University Club is a place where lasting friendships, special connections, and fond memories are made together.

8. Valley Club of Montecito: A Hidden Gem in the Foothills
Tucked away in the scenic foothills of Montecito, the Valley Club is a hidden gem that combines natural beauty with unparalleled recreational opportunities. Members enjoy access to a golf course designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie, as well as tennis facilities and a clubhouse that exudes timeless elegance. This exclusive club provides a tranquil retreat for those seeking a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle, all while maintaining proximity to the amenities of Santa Barbara.

A half-dozen sailboats at full sail competing in a yacht race in the Santa Barbara harbor.
Image courtesy of the Santa Barbara Yacht Club

9. Santa Barbara Yacht Club: Nautical Heritage and Seafaring Excellence
Established in 1872, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club proudly stands as the second oldest yacht club on the West Coast, anchoring itself in the rich maritime tradition that defines the region. At this venerable club, the preservation of nautical heritage takes center stage, creating a haven for sailors and sea enthusiasts alike. Membership at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club is a gateway to an exclusive world of maritime camaraderie and seafaring excellence.

10. La Cumbre Country Club: A Home Away From Home in Hope Ranch
Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains in the historic hideaway of Hope Ranch stands as a welcoming haven for members and guests alike. More than just a club, it embodies a home away from home where a diverse array of social activities awaits, ranging from casual card games and outdoor summer barbecues to themed parties and events. The indoor-outdoor dining experience, offering picturesque views of centuries-old oak trees overlooking the historic golf course, enhances the ambiance of every lunch, dinner, or special event. The club hosts year-round golf tournaments, member-guest events, tennis mixers, and fitness classes, ensuring there is something for everyone at this tranquil retreat that embodies a sense of timelessness.

As you can see, the private clubs of Santa Barbara and Montecito stand as gateways to an exclusive lifestyle defined by elegance, prestige, and a sense of community. For those fortunate enough to call this coastal paradise home, these clubs offer a glimpse into a world where luxury knows no bounds. As a leading Santa Barbara realtor, I understand that finding the perfect residence goes beyond the walls of a home – it's about curating a lifestyle that reflects the epitome of refined living.

Whether you're captivated by the allure of Santa Barbara and Montecito's exclusive private clubs or are contemplating purchasing, selling, or investing in real estate within this enchanting coastal haven and its surrounding upscale communities, I invite you to connect with me. Contact (805) 886-9378 or email me at to arrange a complimentary consultation. Your real estate aspirations deserve a tailored approach, and I am here to provide the guidance you need to navigate the intricate and rewarding landscape of the distinctive properties found in this part of the world. Let's embark on this venture together, ensuring your goals take center stage in our collaborative efforts.

Of Related Resources:

Back to Articles

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