By Carol Dotson

CarolDotsonI spend as much time as I can in Montecito. It’s a wonderful little village that sits on the ocean, bordered by the mountains, painting a picture of serenity. There is such a ‘hometown’ feel about it. No traffic jams – it’s all very casual and laid back. Yet Montecito is also full of celebrities and the wealthy who have chosen to own a home here. I have many friends and clients here, and they all have two or more homes.


799 Lilac Drive: Luxurious Montecito Estate on just over an acre, provides privacy and the highest level of quality and detail
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The restaurants here are phenomenal. Lucky’s, just around the block from the beach and The Four Seasons Biltmore, has amazing steaks and is a popular local favorite. I always run into someone I know there. Just down the street, Trattoria Mollie is another superb dinner spot – it was voted by National Geographic Passport as one of the “Ten Best Destination & Special Restaurants In the World.”

For lunch, Cava is a staple for me, with casual dining and delicious Mexican fare. Tre Lune – located on Coast Village Road in the heart of Montecito – is a fun gathering place if you’re dining with a group, and it has excellent, authentic Italian cuisine. Finally – since you’re on the coast, you have to try the fish. I love to go to Sakana Sushi, a tiny, cheerful space with great seafood.

biltmore-montecitoMontecito is also home to some of the finest hotels on the California coast. It’s always nice to go the Biltmore and eat at Bella Vista, on the patio with panoramic ocean views. Sometimes I even see dolphins playing in the waves. The ambiance is wonderful and the service is always good. As for the hotel itself, I love the nostalgic feel of the Biltmore. It was built in the early 1920s by architect Reginald Johnson, just after he built the beautiful estate I have listed at 1880 East Valley Road. It offers gorgeous ocean views and two pools – one at the hotel and one at the beach club just across the street.

Montecito Outdoor Living: This breathtaking Montecito estate sits on over 4.8 panoramic ocean-view acres on East Mountain Drive – at the pinnacle of the Golden Quadrangle.
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My other favorite place to stay is The San Ysidro Ranch. A dear friend rented the entire place for her wedding a few years ago, and it was such a memorable weekend. The mountain views were just spectacular, with the wedding held on the back lawn. Brunch on the patio at The Stonehouse the next day was memorable too, with food to delight almost any pallet.

While Montecito is home to a choice of world-class golf resorts, I usually prefer to stick to the upper and lower villages. The lower village is a great spot to find little boutique shops, such as Maison K, which sells very chic home furnishings and accessories – clutches, sandals, wraps, rugs, art, etc. This is a great place to pick up items for your home.

Nearby at Pierre Lafond, upstairs you will find wines and other special gifts. Downstairs, there’s a deli/market and a restaurant for a quick lunch with friends.

For a pick-me-up, I like to stop by the Montecito Coffee Shop, a lovely place to spend an hour or two. I am there a lot meeting friends and clients. If you feel like getting together to talk Montecito real estate, or are interested in buying or selling a property in the area, drop me a line! But either way, try to get to Montecito as much as possible. You won’t regret it.


Carol Dotson is a top-producing realtor with The Agency. She has numerous clients and many years of experience in the Montecito real estate market, in addition to greater Los Angeles. Her focus on high-end luxury home investors has made her an expert in finding homes that are not only one-of-a-kind, architectural showpieces, but are also financially lucrative investments for the future.