Montecito has two distinct parts: the Upper and Lower Villages. The Lower Village is well traveled by locals and tourists alike, and is full of shops and restaurants, perfect for an afternoon out. The Upper Village also has a select number of dining and shopping options, but it is mainly a haven for the area’s wealthy residents.

Dolce Hayes Mansion at dawn, San Jose, California

Upper Village

We like to drive through the Upper Village, even though you can’t see many of the beautiful, stately homes—they’re hidden by walls, gates and lush screens of greenery. And that’s for a reason. Most of the people who live in this area are looking for total privacy, and they have the means to pay for it. Yes, this is where Oprah’s house can be found, although we hear she’s only here a few weeks out of the year.

The Upper Village has the necessities of life for its residents: fine antiques and clothing boutiques, specialty food shops, upscale dining and services like wealth management, florists, hardware and pharmacies.

montecito coastal home

Lower Village

Like Santa Barbara, Montecito has two very distinct business districts, the Lower and Upper Villages. With its proximity to downtown Santa Barbara, the freeway and the coastline, the Lower Village tends to attract more tourists and weekend visitors. The Montecito Inn, built by Charlie Chaplin, is the historic anchor of the Lower Village, and majestically stands among the new and old retail shops and restaurants that line the quaint blocks of Coast Village Road.

The Four Seasons Biltmore, with a recent multi-million dollar remodel to its full glory, and the private-member Coral Casino sits right on Butterfly Beach, located just three blocks from the Lower Village.

The Lower Village offers both single-family homes and condominiums, many of which are conveniently located within walking distance to Coast Village Road and the beach, and others that are tucked away in the lush areas off the main roads.