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In Spanish, the name Montecito means “little forest”.  In the middle of the 19th century the area was known as a haven for bandits and highway robbers, who hid in the oak groves and verdant canyons, preying on traffic on the coast route between the towns that developed around the missions. By the end of the 1860s the bandit gangs were gone, and Italian settlers arrived. Finding an area reminiscent of their homes in Italy, they built farms and gardens similar to those they had left behind in Italy. Around the end of the 19th century, rich tourists from the eastern United States began to buy land in the area: it was near enough to Santa Barbara for essential services, but was beautiful, secluded, boasted perfect weather, had several nearby hot springs for health ailments – and at the time, land was cheap.

The Montecito Hot Springs Hotel was built at the largest of the springs, in a canyon north of the town center and directly south of Montecito Peak, in Hot Springs Canyon. The exclusive hotel, which required guests to be worth at least a million dollars to be allowed to stay, burned down in 1920.  It was replaced a few years later by the smaller Hot Springs Club.

The architect George Washington Smith is noted particularly for his residences around Montecito, and for popularizing the Spanish Colonial Revival style in early 20th Century America. Montecito has retained the character it acquired early in the 20th century, of an area of exclusive estates and second homes, to the present day.

Today, Montecito’s Coast Village Road attracts visitors and locals alike with its boutique shops and quaint restaurants.

Montecito Real Estate

It is one of two destinations for finer dining.  The Montecito Inn, built by Charlie Chaplin, is a favorite has one of the most reasonable consistently great restaurants to enjoy.  Next door is the pricy Lucky’s Restaurant, a great place to drop a lot of money and enjoy good food.  Not to far down the street is Cava Restaurant.  In Montecito’s upper village I would recommend Pane E Vino, Via Vai and Piatti’s restaurants.  They are all great choices.

Montecito Photos

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