Cristal's Blog


March 10, 2023

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It’s not hard to seize the day when you live in the chic community of Montecito. Since the 1880s, movers, and shakers worldwide have vacationed here, many of them staying to plant roots. The dreamy playground of the affluent is home to many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ellen DeGeneres, Rob Lowe, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Prince Harry, and Megan Markle, to name a few. Here, regular folks are billionaires, and celebrities are just regular folks. So they're drawn to this luxury village, with its quiet streets, gorgeous beaches, and impressive gated estates.

Sunset at the beach in Montecito, the sun making the sky bright yellow, orange and blue
Photo Credit: Jennifer Stetson

Things to do in Montecito

There's nothing ordinary about the seaside California town of Montecito. The upscale community’s natural assets, temperate climate, and stunning beauty combine to offer endless options, especially when it comes to the great outdoors. Here are 5 reasons why:

  • Beautiful Beaches
    Montecito is home to a stunning stretch of coastline. Locals flock to the area’s popular Butterfly Beach to walk their dogs at the water’s edge while enjoying one of Montecito’s amazing sunsets. Hammonds Beach is a lovely sandy spot hidden away amongst homes behind several private drives. The waves here make it an excellent surfing spot. Miramar Beach, meanwhile, provides tide pools perfect for families to enjoy. Behind this stretch, you’ll find fancy beach homes and the Rosewood Miramar Beach Hotel, a beachfront luxury resort. You can also paddle out to San Ysidro Creek from Fernald Point Beach. Whatever piece of coastal paradise calls to you, be warned—the water is cold but is worth the chill for a chance to ride small waves and possibly experience a chance encounter with a seal.

    Dramatic close up of a Lotus flower surrounded by lush green leaves inside one of the gardens at Lotus Land
    Photo by Will McClintock on Unsplash

  • Lotusland
    Bask in the area’s botanical beauty at Lotusland, a stunning 37-acre property. Originally an estate owned by the late Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known opera singer and socialite, the impressive property features 25 gardens, each distinct in design while seamlessly transitioning to the next. Several of the gardens feature fanciful themes, including the Blue Garden, Theatre Garden, and Japanese Garden. You'll spot ferns, aloes, lotuses, water lilies, and bromeliads among the enormous array of plants. Lotusland also boasts several extraordinary botanical collections, such as rare cycads, cacti, palms, and euphorbias. Other must-sees include the classic topiary garden, horticultural clock, the beautiful Neptune fountain, the impressive palm collection, and the insectary garden.

    A golden retriever standing on a rock surrounded by nasturtiams.
    Photo Credit: Pam Marks,
  • Hiking and Biking
    Enjoy miles and miles of hiking trails along with a paved bike path that stretches from Montecito north along Butterfly Beach and the Santa Barbara coast. Don’t have a bike? Not to worry. On Montecito's Coast Village Road, you'll find a bike shop called Mad Dogs & Englishmen. There, you can rent out various bicycles, including e-bikes to help you power through the hills and past the luxury mansions of Montecito.

    Lace up your hiking boots and head to the hills of Montecito, where on a clear day, you’ll find epic views of the city of Santa Barbara to the Channel Islands and beyond. When I’m looking for a peaceful stroll, I take my rescue dogs and head to Ennisbrook Trail. This 1.85-mile lollipop loop with 150 feet of elevation change explores an oak woodland in the 44-acre San Ysidro Creek Preserve. It’s an easy trail, charmed by old stone bridges spanning San Ysidro Creek, which you’ll follow on this creekside hike. In the spring, there are bursts of orange and yellow nasturtiums along the trail and other flowers that make the experience even more pleasant. There are also other pristine and challenging hiking trails in the foothills to explore.

    The front of Casa del Herrero, one of Santa Barbara's finest architectural landmarks with Moorish influences like the white stucco walls
    Mike Boucher, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

  • Casa del Herrero
    Experience Montecito as it was during the 1920s and 1930s on a tour of Casa del Herrero, one of Santa Barbara's finest architectural landmarks. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2009, Casa del Herrero appeals to people of all ages. Built in 1925 for businessman and inventor George Fox Steedman, this Spanish Colonial home with Moorish influences is one of the best remaining examples of that architecture for which Santa Barbara is known.

    Designed by George Washington Smith, the house remains as it was when the family lived in it, furnished with one-of-a-kind antiques curated by architectural historian Arthur Byne (who also furnished Hearst Castle, by the way). The Casa is closed to the public except during docent-led tours, which can be booked in advance on Wednesdays or Saturdays.

    Wooden Montecito Country Mart sign with trees and bushes
    Photo Credit: Montecito Country Mart
  • Shopping
    Every upscale neighborhood has its share of boutiques, bars, and bakeries, and in Montecito, the best can be found at the Montecito County Mart on Coast Village Road, which runs adjacent to Pacific Coast Highway. Originally built in the 1960s, the Montecito Country Mart is a celebration of the Santa Barbara lifestyle, with its organic eateries, bespoke fashion, curated home goods, local conveniences, and community events.

Ready to seize the day in Montecito? Then I suggest you consider buying a home in the luxury seaside haven. Just give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at for a free consultation.

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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