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May 7, 2022

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The Hidden Beach Town—With Its Chic Shops and Casual Dining—is Dog Friendly

Dogs with their people on Summerland Beach

Image Courtesy of Bring Fido

It’s time to treat yourself, and your four-legged family member, to a day in Summerland. This hidden beach town offers everything you and your canine BFF need to sniff out some fun in the sun together. Think unspoiled coastline, chic shops and casual dining—all dog friendly.

The History of Summerland

The town, founded in 1889, was named after the imagined location of the afterlife. And even today, spending time there can seem like a slice of heaven. Located on the gentle slope of the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains, Summerland is within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors include Hollywood celebrities, Presidents, our own Santa Barbara local celebs as well as many who drive up from Los Angeles County.

Dog Day in Summerland

The little village of homes and businesses radiating backward from the Pacific is situated ten minutes between Santa Barbara to the north and Carpinteria to the south. The vibe is casual here, from your footwear (flip-flops, or four paws please) to the food. I’ve taken the liberty of creating an itinerary of Summerland fun for you and your pup:

Summerland Beach Café

Start the day off right with a big Belgian waffle or huevos rancheros breakfast on the dog-friendly patio of the Summerland Beach Café. The Victorian house, built in 1893, stands watch over the town as Summerland’s most identifiable landmark since you can see it off the 101. In case you haven’t eaten there, this rustic, charming, and dog-friendly restaurant serves home-style cooking from its location, just a block from the beach.

Summerland Beach at Lookout Park

Walk your dog to Summerland Beach at Lookout Park and enjoy the picturesque ocean waves. Its proximity to the park makes it an ideal location for an all-day dog affair. This pretty stretch of coastline is well worth a look for anyone planning a beach outing, especially with a dog. You’ll both enjoy the breathtaking views and the off-leash experience of playing in the waves together. Locals say you must take a short walk to Loon Point, known for its tidepools and surf break. When you and your best friend are ready to leave the beach, there’s a for-pay self-service dog wash station to get the sand and saltwater out of your pup’s fur before continuing your fun-filled day.

Horseback Riding on the Beach

Special note for humans only: Summerland Beach is the only one on Santa Barbara’s South Coast where people can go horseback riding on the beach. So, definitely come back sans dog for that experience. He or she will understand. And when you’re ready, the local tour company, Los Padres Outfitters, offers two-hour guided horseback rides on both the sand and throughout the backcountry of Summerland.

Buddha statue in a garden

Image Courtesy of Unsplash

Stroll Lillie Avenue

In the later afternoon, the two of you can get some more exercise by walking along Lillie Avenue to explore the eclectic collection of shops, including interior décor shop Garde, garden and home purveyor Botanik, and antiques at Mary Suding Antiques & Design. Make time for a stop at The Sacred Space, a hybrid meditation space/Asian artifacts importer.

The Nugget Bar and Grill

Stop for dinner at The Nugget Bar and Grill and take in the scenery on the dog friendly patio. This casual bar and restaurant are reminiscent of an old miner’s establishment; from the rustic façade on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue to the creaky wooden floors inside. This place specializes in serving stiff drinks and hearty entrees. The best dishes are just the sort of casual standards you’d expect at a place like this: spicy chili, burgers and sandwiches, and honey-dipped fried chicken. Locals rave about the grilled wild salmon, the char-grilled lamb chops, and the French dip served with chunky salsa alongside the jus.

Dogs line up in the back of a pick up truck

Image courtesy of Summerland Winery

Summerland Winery

Right next door to The Nugget, you’ll find the Summerland Winery, voted best winery in Santa Barbara County, where dogs are invited to accompany their guardians right into the tasting room. Guests are invited to try some excellent award-winning wines, from Sauvignon blanc to Chardonnays, produced right on the Central California Coast. The two of you can end a perfect day in Summerland hanging at the bar together and making new friends, both human and doggy. Don’t forget to snap a picture of your four-legged companion to add to the tasting room’s website and for a chance to be featured on their Instagram!

Living room of a home for lease in Summerland Beach

Summerland Homes For Sale or Lease

The perfect way to cap off your day in Summerland with your dog is to check out some of the amazing homes for sale or lease in the area, like the Charming Oceanfront Cottage Near Montecito pictured above.

If you’re thinking of selling or leasing your home in Summerland or any of the communities in and around Santa Barbara, I invite you to contact me at (805) 886-9378, or send me an email at for a complimentary consultation. I can also discuss buying in the area.

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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