Summerland, CA: it just sounds like the kind of place you want to visit in the summer, right? This hidden gem of a beach town is located just a few miles south of Santa Barbara and is home to a beautiful coastline, boutique shops, casual dining and wine tasting from select vineyards of the Central Coast. Here’s the skinny on how to enjoy the best of California at a fraction of the cost of nearby Malibu and Santa Barbara:
Where to Sip:
Red Kettle Coffee. Located in a charming wood shingled cottage with a tomato red outdoor benches, Red Kettle Coffee carries their own line of coffee roasted by Moore Coffee & Tea out of nearby Ventura. Try one of their specialty lattes, like the Snickerdoodle Latte or the Ray of Sunshine with turmeric, honey and cinnamon, hand blended teas, and locally baked pastries on their dog friendly patios. 2275 Ortega Hill #A
Summerland Winery. Learn about Central Coast wines relaxing in a dog-friendly, beach-inspired ambiance at Summerland Winery tasting room. Summerland Winery specializes in small-lot, vineyard designate Pinot Noirs. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also book a reservation online at Tock, which advertises that on Wednesday there is all day happy hour and 30% off wines by the glass. The flight of 5 wines rotates weekly, and you can choose from the Summerland Signature Flight or the Single Vineyard Flight. 2330 Lillie Avenue.
The Nugget. With an ambience reminiscent of the Old West and the time when prospectors flocked to CA to mine for gold, The Nugget is a Summerland, CA institution. It is a bar and restaurant, and many may only know it only as a restaurant, but the bar scene can get pretty rockin’, especially on Monday nights. Ask Maria at the bar for one of her margaritas, and settle in and make a new friend, or two. When you get hungry, order a Crunch Burger or some of their spicy beef chili, or–on the lighter side–grilled salmon served on fresh greens. 2318 Lillie Avenue.
Where to Sleep:
Inn on Summer Hill. The Inn on Summer Hill offers 16 air-conditioned accommodations with fireplaces and patios boasting garden or partial ocean views (they say partial because the 101 divides Summerland from the beach and ocean). The individually appointed rooms feature separate seating areas, down-comforters, bathrobes, and complementary continental breakfast. Rates start at $325, which is a reasonable alternative to the nearby Rosewood Miramar Beach that starts at $2,095 a night. 2520 Lillie Avenue.
VRBO and Airbnb also offer a nice selection of beach cottages in Summerland, CA that look charming, like this one and this one. Bottom line when it comes to Summerland hotels: shop around but try to book early… the summer season fills up fast!
Where to Savor:
Tinker’s. Our kids are crazy for Tinker’s, a very casual burger joint founded by Richard “Tinker” Tingstrom–whose daughter, Megan incidentally owns Red Kettle Coffee. The menu is pretty straight-forward, with lots of burgers, even a Quad Cheeseburger with 4 patties for the uber-hungry set. 2275 Ortega Hill Road #C
Padaro Beach Grill. Another family favorite Summerland restaurant, Padaro Beach Grill is set off Padaro Beach with several outdoor picnic tables around what the kids used to call the “giant sand box”. Food is consistent and features something for everyone, from burgers, salads, sandwiches and fish specialities like authentic Baja Fish Tacos. Don’t miss out on the Tri-Tip French Fries. 3765 Santa Claus Lane
Feast. Designers Susie Bechtel and Kyle Irwin opened Field and Fort after an extensive renovation as a vintage home decor store featuring furniture and housewares. You can shop and have a bite to eat at the same time, for within Field and Fort is Feast, an all-day farm-to-table cafe. Sandwiches like the chicken tarragon or roast beef with whipped feta and harissa are perfect for a mid-afternoon bite. 2580 Lillie Avenue
Where to Shop:
The Sacred Space. I could spend half a day exploring the gardens and treasures of The Sacred Space. As soon as you park your car and enter the door, prepare to be transported to the Far East. Enjoy a cup of tea as you explore the buddhas, and linger a while under a pagoda. Whether you need a gift, something for yourself, or just a break, a stop at The Sacred Space is a must. 2594 Lillie Avenue
Botanik. Owner Erin Taylor opened Botanik in 1998, where you will find California décor at its most chic. Think rare orchids, custom succulent gardens, outdoor furniture, boxwood topiaries, garden and interior design books, candles, pillows, rattan furniture and other unique accessories like ikat pillows. 2329 Lillie Avenue
The Well. Open in June of 2022, The Well Summerland is giving Botanik some friendly competition. Known for their vintage and antique wares, custom fountains and fire features, The Well also offers home staging, interior design, and hardscaping. Another great place to find gifts and even some fun coastal artwork. 2350 Lillie Avenue
Bikini Factory. Tucked in between Red Kettle Coffee and Tinker Burger is The Bikini Factory. Originally opened in 1965 in downtown Santa Barbara, The Bikini Factory moved to Summerland and prides itself as being the resource for hard to fit sizes along with the latest trends and styles. Means you can try on that bikini after indulging in that Quad Cheeseburger. 2275 Ortega Hill Road #B
Porch. Round out some of your home and garden shopping at Porch, which relocated to Summerland from nearby Santa Claus Lane in 2020. After gazing at all of this beautiful furniture, all you may need to do is buy yourself a house nearby. 2346 Lillie Avenue
Other Favorite Summerland, CA Activities: If the price tags at the shops on Lillie Avenue give you heartburn, try the Summerland Antique Collective where I purchased many items for a rental home we owned in Montecito. Also take your pups to the off-leash beach of Loon Point, where you will also see people riding horses along the sand with Summerland Beach Rides. There is no end to the summer fun you can find in Summerland! If you make it there, be sure to drop me a line!