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Celebrity Sightings in Santa Barbara
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Celebrity Sightings in Santa Barbara

Hollywood heavyweights come here to stay, shop, eat and play; and knowing the Riviera, there’s an endless amount of places to choose from.

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5 min read

October 04, 2021

Santa Barbara’s status as a star-studded hotspot is by no means new. In fact, the city’s elite status dates back to the days of silent film, when Charlie Chaplin spearheaded the construction of the Montecito Inn in the late 1920s and chose the city for his nuptials to Oona O'Neill. And nowadays, the American Riviera still remains a favorite among the rich and famous. Hollywood heavyweights come here to stay, shop, eat and play; and knowing the Riviera, there’s an endless amount of places to choose from. Whether you identify as one of those hip Hollywood types or have tastes that scream ‘A-lister,’ there’s something guaranteed to suit your fancy. 

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite celebrity sightings in Santa Barbara, their homes, places they’re frequently seen at, and eateries they can’t get enough of. Use this guide as a roadmap to your own stardom or simply learn who your neighbors might be. After all, it’s Santa Barbara—you never know who you’ll run into here.

Enjoy the American Riviera just like one of the many A-Listers who call this lovely destination home.

How to Roll like a Celeb in Santa Barbara 

When we mention Montecito in these conversations, do extravagant parties come to mind? On luxurious yachts, perhaps? Well, actually the super-luxe neighborhood acts like more of a hub for celebrity homes these days. Just head to Coast Village Road and you’ll see what we mean. The curated pet shop George is where Ellen Degeneres purchases treats for her pup. Iron Chef Cat Cora loves the bakery D’Angelo Bread and has been quoted saying that the steak at Lucky’s Steakhouse is one of the best things she’s ever eaten.

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With domesticity covered, let’s head to where celebrities in Santa Barbara go to have a little bit of fun. Renowned for its bohemian vibe, the iconic Funk Zone is packed with an array of shops, boutiques, and galleries—and, guess what, A-listers window shop too. There’s a special celeb congestion around the time when the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is happening. Both Jason Segel and Natalie Portman have been spotted eating tapas at Loquita and munching on croissants at Helena Avenue Bakery. And a little further downtown, the upscale Mexican restaurant El Paseo is no stranger to high-profile fiestas, including parties for the late Salvador Dali, Ginger Rogers, Quentin Tarantino, and J-Lo herself.

Celebrities that Live in Santa Barbara

Oprah Winfrey's Montecito estate, which she purchased for $50 million in 2001, is reportedly valued at almost $90 million.

Oprah Winfrey 

A far cry from the Mississippi shack she grew up in, Oprah Winfrey now owns numerous sparkling multimillion-dollar properties—her real estate portfolio isn’t showing signs of slowing down either. The media mogul, philanthropist, and actress has bought and sold so many properties, she’s probably lost count. It all started in 2001 when Oprah was invited to a party at a dreamy estate in the idyllic village of Montecito and instantly fell head over heels with the property. The tranquil 42-acre estate made such an impression on Winfrey that she used her formidable powers of persuasion and got the owners to sell. Fun fact: the home was never actually on the market. She wasted no time writing out a cheque for a mind-boggling $52 million.

Since stepping down from their duties as senior royals, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have called California home.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex made the shocking announcement that they’re exiting the royal family, their first move was to Canada. Afterwards, they returned to the United States and tried their best to seek out a more under-the-radar kind of lifestyle. And after briefly living in Tyler Perry’s Beverly Hills mansion, the couple then opted for a sprawling seven-acre estate in Montecito. This is where the most reported sightings of Meghan Marke and Prince Harry have been in Santa Barbara.

“Star Wars” creator George Lucas plunked down about $25 million for his spectacular beach house in Santa Barbara.

George Lucas

Filmmaker George Lucas is no stranger to the latest trends of coastal design. In fact, the newest renovation he made to his Carpinteria beachfront property was an expansion. The oceanside city itself is attached to names like TV’s Ellen Degeneres and actor Kevin Costner. Lucas purchased the property directly next door to his own and added a small Cape Cod-style hut, guesthouse, treehouse, and a barn to his existing estate.

Jeff Bridges 

The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, was a longtime resident of Santa Barbara. He did recently sell his 9,535-square-foot Villa Santa Lucia in Montecito, but they say he visits the county often. The stunning Mediterranean-style mansion was built in 1988 and has a bunch of unique spaces inside—it features a meditation room, a fort where the actor sometimes threw pottery, and a detached theater-slash-recording studio. As for the outdoor area, well, it’s basically all fruit orchards and vineyards; a postcard-perfect dream, much like the Riviera itself.

Celebrity Sightings in Santa Barbara 

Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles aren't trying to hide the fact they're dating. The two were photographed out in Santa Barbara.

Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde

The former boyband-member-turned-style icon Harry Styles was spotted in Santa Barbara with girlfriend Olivia Wilde; an actor-director whose impressive resume includes films such as Booksmart, Her, and the upcoming Don’t Worry Darling. The latter was actually the reason the pair met. The two were spotted grabbing lunch in Montecito, with Styles sporting gray pants paired with a brown-hued hoodie, a hot pink knit beanie, and white oval-framed sunglasses with sneakers to match.

Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo are settling into the Montecito lifestyle and having lunch with friends after getting a $ 22.7 million historic home.

Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo

Another couple! Looks like Santa Barbara’s quite the hub for lovebirds. After moving into a historic compound in the celebrity-favorite enclave of Montecito, Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine and Victoria’s Secret Angel Behati Prinsloo have been spotted in town on multiple occasions; most of which are food-related. It seems the pair really loves going out for lunch with friends, and with the American Riviera being a foodie’s paradise, we can totally see why they keep coming back.

Rob Lowe 

A long-time Santa Barbara resident Rob Lowe saw commotion return to his Montecito neighborhood when a certain royal couple moved in—and the actor actually followed them. During an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden, Lowe admitted to spotting Prince Harry driving around their neighborhood in Santa Barbara. When curiosity took the best of him, the actor proceeded to follow Prince Harry in an experience he likens to ‘seeing the Loch Ness Monster’. 

Have you ever spotted a celebrity in California? Let us know in the comments below.

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