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Getaway Guide: Summerland
Travel

Getaway Guide: Summerland

A breathtaking landscape, unending adventures lurking at every corner, and people so magnetic you’ll want to make the whole city your BFF.

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5 min read

September 23, 2021

Tiny, quaint, and oh so charming, Summerland will make you contemplate the big move. Don’t believe us? Go on a short getaway and test it out for yourself—‘pleasantly surprised’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. A breathtaking landscape, unending adventures lurking at every corner, and people so magnetic you’ll want to make the whole city your best friend. 

If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, settle in for a relaxing stay in the seaside haven of Summerland.

Day 1

Arriving 

Driving from L.A. to this Santa Barbara enclave is going to take you about an hour and a half—and you’re in for quite a show too. Calling the scenery ‘alluring’ would be an understatement; high cliffs peer over townhouses, leaving them secluded, adding a touch of mystique. Soon, you’ll find yourself on Ortega Road, driving under the waving palms as you pass quirky pop-up shops.

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But before you jump to window shopping, we recommend leaving your luggage behind… Perhaps at the lovely Inn on Summer Hill? Offering a seaside atmosphere with the amenities of a boutique bed and breakfast, this Summerland hotel is nothing short of dreamy.

Get your surf culture and beach town fix featuring ocean waves, outdoor exploration, and local eateries.

Afternoon 

You’ll quickly learn that life here is all about the beach. The city’s namesake, Summerland Beach, is directly accessible from Lookout Park—a delightful surprise perched atop the city’s cliffs. Trust us when we say that you won’t be able to grasp the park’s full potential until you actually enter it; from the outside, it actually looks quite unassuming. But, once you’re inside, you’ll find this grassy paradise features benches, picnic tables, BBQs, a children’s playground, and a volleyball court within its pristine premises. Another thing the park has going for it is the allure of Summerland Beach, waiting for you a little downhill and ready to reward your anticipation.

Santa Barbara’s Summerland Beach has dazzling waters that invite you in when wandering its wide sandy shores. The beach is actually one of the most popular local and tourist hotspots in Summerland, so expect to share the space with a few other beach bums.

But if you’re dead-set on having the ocean all to yourself, Loon Point is just a stone’s throw away. Offering near-isolation, this beach never stops feeling like you’re in on a secret; it’s a beautiful hidden gem filled with tide pools and surfers riding the waves in the distance.

Fun fact: Summerland is the only city on Santa Barbara’s South Coast where you can actually go on a romantic horseback ride on the beach. And if you ask us, this opportunity is too unique to pass up. Book an appointment with Los Padres Outfitters (who also offer backcountry tours, by the way) and ride off into the sunset with a skilled wrangler by your side. Nothing beats equestrian bliss for a true Californian experience. 

Hop from shop to shop; you’re sure to find a treasure or two after indulging in delicious meals at the many local restaurants.

Evening 

Worked up an appetite yet? Well, you’re in luck, because the dining scene in Summerland is as laid-back as the name suggests. Take the Nugget Bar and Grill, for instance. A local staple, this eatery has been serving a juicy selection of burgers, salads, steaks, and seafood for generations. Eating here will really make you feel like a local surrounded by flavors that really make Summerland what it is; a magnetic destination that never fails to feel like home.

Next up on your itinerary is shopping (obviously) and Summerland has quite the stellar selection. You start on Ortega Hill Road and Lillie Avenue and wander around until you find a bouquet of antique vendors. Highlights include Summerland Antique Collective, which offers a robust selection of pieces sourced from numerous dealers, Mary Suding Antiques with their almost-kaleidoscopic range of furniture, the Bikini Factory for beach lovers, and Botanik for plant-enthusiasts. There’s also Garde, the apple of every interior designer’s eye, with its refined selection of furniture, art, and textiles.

If there’s one thing Santa Barbara County is known for, it’s getting outside and taking full advantage of nearly year-round sunshine.

Day 2 

Morning 

Start your morning right with a cup of joe from Red Kettle Coffee—the spot for all-things artisanal; the coffee is made from locally roasted beans. If you’re the type of person that needs a bit of a sugar kick to wake up, the freshly baked goods are definitely up to the task.

And now that you’re full of energy, where better to get the lay of the (Summer)land than from Los Padres National Forest? Oh yes, the Romero Canyon Loop provides you with just the right amount of challenge without sacrificing any of nature’s bounty. The six-mile trail remains one of the most rewarding Summerland hikes. The climb starts off sunny and the descent is all about cooling off in the shade—just the way we like our hikes.

This town’s name says it all: Summerland is a classic California beach town located just five miles south of Santa Barbara.

Afternoon

With all the things you’ve yet to discover in Santa Barbara’s Summerland, a light and casual lunch will be looking like your best option. For this, we recommend none other than Summerland Beach Cafe. This dog-friendly breakfast and lunch spot has both indoor and outdoor seating, boasting a few of the most mouth-watering items in the Greater Santa Barbara area. Their lunch menu is especially diverse, with juicy burgers, sandwiches, salads, and barbequed chicken tacos served in a style that’s aptly described by staff and clients as ‘the good kind of messy’. But if you’re a vegetarian or simply a fan of all things low-cholesterol, there’s plenty on the menu for you as well alongside traditional gluten-free options.

Next, get a respite from the SoCal sun by retreating to the Sacred Space, a den of Zen. This spiritual oasis is the kind of place you can spend hours admiring. It’s not your average boutique; you’ll find essential oils, books, and various treasures from all over the world. Relax in the lush gardens or enjoy tea service under the shade of a little hut sitting over a lily pond.

Meander down Lillie Avenue that's dotted with antique stores, cozy cafes, and locally owned shops punctuated by charming cottages.

Evening 

The best way to bid Summerland a farewell—or perhaps more like a ‘see you later’—is at Feast at Field + Fort, by doing exactly what the name suggests. Set in a residential-style cottage on the east end of Lillie Avenue, the hybrid home interior shop and cafe offers an all-day menu full of breakfast boards, toasts, salads, and sandwiches. While you wait for your food to be ready, browse through the goods curated by interior designer Kyle Irwin, whose design studio is one floor up.

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