Cristal's Blog


January 30, 2023

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The month that includes a day dedicated to the celebration of love ushers in brighter days and gorgeous sunsets here in Santa Barbara, setting the stage for romance. While many local restaurants will be offering special menus for Valentine's Day 2023, there are other activities to love, flaming the fires of passion in your busy life. For example, celebrate by booking a wine-tasting tour, get swept away on a yacht, go paddleboarding together or fill your days with long beach walks or mountain hikes, inhaling the fresh air and impressive vistas. Ahh, love is definitely in the air all month long here on the American Riviera.

A red light up statue of the word LOVE to illustrate Valentine's Day
Photo by Jesse Goll on Unsplash

Favorite Valentine’s Day Restaurants in Santa Barbara

You may be contemplating where to dine in Santa Barbara this Valentine’s Day. Here are four of my favorites to consider:

Bouchon restaurant in Santa Barbara's outside patio with customers dining

Bouchon’s Pretty in Pink special Valentine’s Day menu takes romance to another level. The celebrated restaurant that has long been the talk of the town with its warm and inviting ambiance, seasonal menu changes, and authentic regional wine dining experience is the place when fine dining is your objective. Proprietor Mitchell Sjerven and chef Nathan Van Etten source the best products of the region, -- from Santa Ynez Valley wines to Santa Barbara Channel fresh fish -- with French, European, vegetarian, and vegan options. Lovers can’t go wrong dining at this Trip Advisor “Hall of Fame” recipient.

The outside of Cold Springs Tavern, a restaurant that's a former stagecoach stop on San Marcos Pass near Santa Barbara

Cold Spring Tavern
Bring your Valentine to the Cold Spring Tavern and enjoy a hearty fine dining experience at this former stagecoach stop on San Marcos Pass near Santa Barbara. Here, you and your lover can appreciate the authentic ambiance of the Old West because, as if by magic, time stands still at the tavern. Although the tavern is usually closed on Tuesdays, they will be open with a special curated Four Course Valentine Menu featuring their delicious American fare, for dinner only.

Aerial view of the romantic outside patio of the Stonehouse Restaurant at San Ysidro Ranch at dusk with a deep blue sky and ocean in the background.

The Stonehouse
For a delicious prix fixe Valentine’s Day 2023 dinner, take your sweetheart to one of the outstanding restaurants at the legendary hideaway San Ysidro Ranch. The property’s award-winning restaurant, The Stonehouse, is situated in a 19th-century citrus packing house and has a romantic full-bar lounge and separate dining room with an outdoor terrace and a crackling fireplace. The special Valentine’s Day four-course menu will give you both something to love. Dishes include Sweet Corn and Lemongrass Bisque, Snake River Farms Wagyu Striploin Tataki, Seared Maine Diver Scallops, and Herb Crusted Colorado Rack of Lamb. An optional wine pairing add-on is available.

The inside bar at the retro swanky Santa Barbara restaurant Rare Society steakhouse. It's dark with mood lighting with a horseshoe bar

Rare Society
Love birds can luxuriate over a gorgeous meal together at the retro, swanky steakhouse Rare Society. Chef Brad Wise’s latest restaurant pays homage to the infamous steakhouses of the Las Vegas Strip. This new rendition is infused with a touch of modernity, adding a wood-fired log boiler for meats, a progressive cocktail program, and sustainably-sourced seafood.

Other Cupid Approved Activities for February 14, or anytime passion strikes!

Valentine’s Day Sunset Cruise
Enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day 2023 private sunset sail along the beautiful Santa Barbara Coast aboard the sailing yacht Kelpie. SunSwept Sailing's Valentine's Day special includes a bottle of bubbly, a picnic platter, and local artisan chocolates. You and your special someone, two couples, or a group of Galentines can enjoy the serenity of the Pacific Ocean as you sail along the American Riviera. Valentine's Day also marks the beginning of whale watching season in our waters, so be sure to keep a close eye out for migrating gray whales, local pods of dolphins, sea lions, seals, and more.

Spa Romance Package at San Ysidro Ranch
Treat yourself to a romantic day of pampering and relaxation at The Salon & Spa at San Ysidro Ranch. The special romance package is a treat for lovebirds in need of relaxation. The experience begins with a full-body aromatic exfoliation treatment, and ends with a luxurious custom mineral bath, with sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Valentine’s Day Wine Tour
There's no better way to enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day than a wine-tasting excursion. Just contact Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours and they'll take care of all the details while you bask in the sights and distinctive flavors of the Santa Ynez Valley. You’ll stop at three local wineries, have lunch in the Santa Ynez Valley, enjoy door-to-door shuttle service, and listen to the knowledgeable guide discuss local history and insights into the region.

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Spend Valentine's Day with actor Brendan Fraser. The celebrated actor will be honored at The Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 14 with the American Riviera Award during an in-person event hosted by Arlington Theatre. He’ll share some personal details about his career, leading up to this year's performance in the upcoming film, The Whale.

No Reservations Required

When it comes to Valentine's Day 2023, if you're planning on taking advantage of our excellent restaurant scene, make reservations now. Of course, you don't need reservations to enjoy the great outdoors this month; experiencing the magic of the Douglas Family Preserve or The Ojai Valley Trail with your four-legged Valentine. Or perhaps you’d like to explore the sea with your love via kayak or paddleboard. Valentine’s Day Island Adventure, anyone? This is also an excellent time to show yourself a little love through self-care with a reinvigorating massage or soul-soothing yoga flow class in Santa Barbara. Whatever you choose to do, the perfect adventure awaits in February.

If your Valentine's adventure includes making a move within or to Santa Barbara, I invite you to give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at for a free consultation regarding selling and buying. I will happily add your listing to my portfolio of impressive estates for sale and find you a new home simultaneously. Meantime, let's all celebrate love this Valentine’s Day 2023, Santa Barbara style.

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Client Reviews

“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