Local Lowdown: Montecito’s Upper Village Embodies the Spirit of Community

Posted on Jan 20 by Leslie Dinaberg

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Photos by Jordan Duggan

Despite the global sophistication of its residents, the spirit of small town American is alive and well in Montecito’s low key, charming upper village. While last year’s twin disasters wrecked heartbreaking havoc both personally and professionally, they also helped create an appreciative climate of reflection and gratitude for the simple joys of greeting neighbors and supporting local businesses. What better time to pay them a visit than during the holiday season.

East Valley Road carves a graceful path through the heart of the village, where several clusters of retail businesses and service providers make their homes on both the mountain and ocean sides of the street. The porch of the Montecito Coffee Shop/San Ysidro Pharmacy and the fountain patio of Pierre Lafond Montecito Market are both great spots to catch up on the latest scuttlebutt or watch the world go by. Other fine eateries include Pane e Vino, Via Vai Trattoria Pizzeria and Montecito Wine Bistro, as well as food purveyors like Montecito Village Grocery and Village Cheese & Wine (which reportedly kept the doors open and locals who didn’t evacuate fed throughout the nearly three weeks that Montecito was clamped down in a post-flood mandatory evacuation).

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Shopping for unique items is a pleasure at Imagine Artful Things, a beautiful gem of a store that defies categorization. Trust us, you’re sure to find distinctive gifts for the home as well as everyone on your list (including yourself). Other notable art, gifts and home good dealers in the area include Upstairs at Pierre Lafond (with everything from home dècor, to tabletop pieces and gorgeous local artwork), The Stationery Collection, Tecolote Book Shop (complete with a lovely grassy outdoor area to pull up a seat if you just can’t wait to dig into the latest bestseller), Village Frame & Gallery, Clare Swan Clothing & Travel and Jenni Kayne Home & Apparel.

An impressive number of antique stores are in the area, including Josephine’s Antiques, Davis & Taft Antiques, Country House Antiques, Carty & Carty Antiques, Brostrom Antiques, William Lahman Furniture (a charming mix of antiques, accessories and garden objects) and Haskell Antiques.

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Stylish women’s fashions can be found at Juniper Women’s Boutique (the handmade belts are one-of-a-kind), Glamour House Intimate Apparel (which has beautiful nighties and PJs for holiday gifting), Giuliana Haute Couture, Julianne Boutique and two stores—Wendy Foster Clothing and Wendy Foster Sportswear—from Santa Barbara’s long-time doyenne of style.

Health and wellness salons include Skin Essentials, Dadiana, Beauty & Hair Salon and Mareva International. Jewelers in the village include Bryant & Sons Jewelers, Tresor Fine Jewelry & Collectibles, George Meta Jewelry and Oliver & Espig Gallery of Fine Arts.

Montecito's Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

Montecito’s Upper Village, photo by Jordan Duggan.

In addition, there’s a wealth of services available in the upper village, including Automotive & Repair, Montecito Village Hardware, Sotheby’s International Realty (Sandy Stahl and an additional office), Wells Fargo Bank & Trust, ACI Jet, Blake Ashley Design, Montecito Executive Services, Montecito Library, Montecito Associates, Union Bank, Santa Barbara Travel Bureau, Elder Studio, Northern Trust (two offices), Coldwell Banker, Hogue & Co. Florists, House of Honey, American Riviera Bank and Gazebo Gardens.

In keeping with the small town retail vibe, many of these retailers are entirely owner run and operated, ensuring a
personal touch. Please call individual stores for hours of operation, as they can vary.

Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

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