Cristal's Blog


January 29, 2024

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Picture-perfect landscapes, oceanfront strolls, and blooming flora come together to create an idyllic backdrop for love this February along The American Riviera®. Our community transforms into a haven for amore on Valentine’s Day, yet romance is just the beginning of what makes February truly special. The annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) promises to infuse a touch of glamour while the live entertainment possibilities add an extra layer of excitement to the month's festivities.

A plate of oysters on the half shell, lemon slices, and a red condiment being dipped with a spoon in a person's hand
Photo credit Ali Beck courtesy of The Lark

Romantic Dining Delights to Celebrate Love Santa Barbara Style

The Lark invites you to a memorable Valentine's Day with chef Jason Paluska's special a la carte menu, featuring West Coast oysters (pictured above), goat milk ricotta agnolotti pasta, and grilled Santa Barbara spiny lobster. Top off the evening with a dark chocolate pot de crème and the exclusive "Call Me Rose" cocktail. ❤️

From February 9th to 17th, El Encanto, a Belmond Hotel, invites lovers to savor a romantic Prix Fixe Dinner by executive chef Alex Bollinger and pastry chef Too Luna. Immerse yourself in the city's most romantic setting, complete with ocean views and captivating sunsets, all under a starlit dome. Indulge in a delightful menu featuring fresh seafood, plant-based dishes, and locally sourced ingredients.

Two chefs preparing in an upscale restaurant kitchen.
Photo courtesy of Bouchon

Bouchon sets the stage for a starry-eyed and delicious February 14th, offering a three-course seasonal menu of wine country cuisine adorned with rose petals and candlelight. Choose from a range of options, including the chef's specially crafted romantic specials.

For a family-friendly celebration, Brass Bear Uptown presents a customizable four-course menu with entrees like cordon bleu and bourbon-glazed salmon. The deliciousness includes a la carte options for children and features a jumpy house to keep them busy and face painting.

An outside dining terrace at The Stonehouse Restaurant, with tables set, surrounded by trees and flora
Photo courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

Indulge in an exquisite V-day dinner at The Stonehouse, San Ysidro Ranch. Nestled within the walls of a 19th-century citrus packing house at the renowned San Ysidro Ranch, the Stonehouse Restaurant, honored as the top restaurant in Santa Barbara by OpenTable, emanates the charming rustic atmosphere of its historic locale. The dreamy, rustic ambiance sets the stage for special four-course prix fixe, with a separate children’s menu.

Celebrate love at La Paloma Café with a curated dining experience for stary eyed twosomes. The official VD a la carte entrée for two features spice-crusted & oak-smoked Chateaubriand with herbed Amorosa fingerling potatoes, grilled chicory, and red chili-truffle sauce.

The vineyard of Vega Vineyard and Farm, with a dirt road leading through grape vines and the mountains in the background.
Photo courtesy of Vega Vineyard and Farm

Vega Vineyard and Farm invites you to an unforgettable and dreamy dinner that Cupid would be envious of. The special menu features seared ahi, herb-crusted rack of lamb, potato-wrapped halibut, and a flourless dark chocolate torte, and of course, wine parings.

The Funk Zone’s Lucky Penny offers an expression of adoration in the form of a heart-shaped pizza (cheese or pepperoni) paired with refreshing frosé on February 14th. Choose between a romantic evening on their heated patio or a cozy night in with takeout orders.

Loquita sets the stage for romance with a curated a la carte menu designed to enchant. Indulge in Spanish-style dishes like Kumamoto oyster with sangria granita, A5 New York steak, Galician style lobster tail, and a spiced Mexican chocolate pavlova with passion fruit curd and charred blood orange, with prices varying by menu item.

Finch & Fork at Kimpton Canary Hotel presents the "Wild About You" adoring dinner on the day reserved for couples. You’ll fall in love with Chef Nathan Lingle curated three-course menu for both plant- and ocean-lovers alike. Each reservation includes a handcrafted ceramic vase with a wildflower bouquet.

Celebrate The Nectar of the Gods
Santa Barbara boasts a number of restaurants with amazing wine lists to sip your way through the entire month. But perhaps you’d like to indulge in a wine lover's paradise at the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) hosted at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, taking place from February 29 to March 2. This is the ultimate celebration of one of the world’s most popular red wines, bringing together global winemakers, chefs, and wine enthusiasts for a weekend dedicated to the art of tasting and exploring the nuances of Pinot Noir from around the world. Join this immersive experience to savor exceptional wines and deepen your understanding of this exquisite varietal.

Live Entertainment
In February, the Lobero Theatre kicks off a month filled with captivating performances, including Opera Santa Barbara's presentation of Il Trovatore (Feb. 9), a mesmerizing show by Latin instrumentalist Ottmar Liebert of Luna Negra (Feb. 18), a delightful evening with French classical artist Hélène Grimaud (Feb. 22), the talented Youth Symphony of Santa Barbara (Feb. 25), and a soulful performance by country musician Sarah Jarosz (Feb. 29).

At the Granada Theatre, February brings a series of diverse performances, starting with American soprano Renée Fleming (Feb. 1), followed by Mountain Stage featuring Kathy Mattea (Feb. 4), a family-friendly show with Paw Patrol Live (Feb. 6 and 7), the enchanting Serenade for Strings presented by the Santa Barbara Symphony (Feb. 17 and 18), and a matchless interpretation of Alice in Wonderland by MOMIX (Feb. 20).

A shop full of vintage furniture and accessories
Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Antique, Decorative Arts, and Vintage Show & Sale

If you love to shop and have an affinity for vintage treasures, don't miss the Santa Barbara Antique, Decorative Arts, and Vintage Show & Sale at Earl Warren Showgrounds from February 23-25. This Antique show, the sole remaining one in Southern California, has been running for more than 35 years. This year, more than 60 renowned dealers are taking part, showcasing a diverse mix of treasures, from 17th-century rarities to mid-century marvels, including furniture, jewelry, art, and more, this event is sure to captivate collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Hollywood Comes to Santa Barbara

For cinephiles and fans of the silver screen, February brings the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to The American Riviera® from February 7 – 17, 2024. Immerse yourself in the magic of Hollywood right in your own backyard as the city becomes a hub for acclaimed films and their stars. Join the festivities and catch a glimpse of the glamour, excitement, and cinematic excellence that define this prestigious event.

If your Valentine’s Day love sparks a desire to relocate to or within any of the captivating communities in the Santa Barbara area this month, explore my portfolio of outstanding property listings on my comprehensive website. Whether you're seeking a new home or require assistance in selling your existing property, I'm here to help. Feel free to reach out by calling me at (805) 886-9378 or sending an email to for a complimentary consultation. Wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day filled with romance and new possibilities!

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Client Reviews

“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