A safe day to...
Travel to Montecito, California
Montecito is located in Santa Barbara County just outside the city of Santa Barbara. Montecito, which is actually Spanish for “little mountain,” was once home to Spaniards who arrived in the 18th century but quickly moved on farther west into Santa Barbara. Beginning in the late 19th century, Montecito began attracting wealthy families from around the US in search of land, a comfortable climate and lifestyle. Today, the Santa Barbara county as a whole remains to be one of the wealthiest in the country and Montecito is home to many celebrities. It’s no wonder the town attracts some big names: its city limits span from the lower foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains out to the coast providing many homes a stunning view of the ocean.
While Montecito is known for its star-studded population and luxurious lifestyle, this does not make it immune to natural disasters. In December of 2017, Montecito was devastated by the Thomas wildfire which burned 404 square miles, heavily impacting Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The fire destroyed at least 1,063 structures and accrued over 2 billion dollars in damages. After the grueling and heartbreaking wildfire passed, much of the vegetation had been incinerated, leaving the area vulnerable to flooding and mudslides.
The Washington Post explained, “[...] intense wildfires transform rich soil into a dense, water-repellent surface. To make matters worse, biologists have found that when rain hits the charred landscape, it can become even more dense and more water repellent.” No sooner than 3 weeks after the Thomas fire, Montecito experienced torrential downpours. The rain, paired with the charred soils’ inability to absorb it, led to flooding and deadly mudslides in the same location that was still reeling from one of California's largest wildfires.
Community Resilience in Montecito
Despite Montecito’s harrowing experience, the community has done an amazing job rallying together to help those most impacted and support resilience across the city. The visitors association hopes to dispel rumors that Montecito was completely destroyed or that it wouldn’t be a good time to visit after the impacts of the natural disasters. In fact, it’s more important than ever to visit, enjoy all that the city has to offer, and support them through tourism as they move past a series of rare and devastating events.
Best Time to Visit Montecito
Visit Montecito anytime between mid-April and the end of September for the driest, warmest weather. However, Montecito is known for its pleasant weather year round, so if you’re looking for a less busy time to visit consider coming in the winter or early spring.
Travel Safely in Montecito
Terra Frma strongly believes that disaster prone towns and cities deserve to be visited and supported. Some of the most spectacular areas in the world happen to be disaster prone areas. If we stop visiting them, we stop seeing the world at its fullest. Just as you deserve to be resilient at home, you deserve to be resilient while traveling as well.
Travel safely to Montecito by taking these simple preparedness steps, which include packing smart and researching helpful resources ahead of time.
Montecito is at risk for
Pack the following items
- Disaster Deck
- Vehicle Kit
- Printed map of Santa Barbara County
- On-Foot Kit in day pack for visiting beaches
- Printed map of tsunami evacuation routes from Montecito
- Printed map of tsunami evacuation route on foot and by car from your accommodations
Links to Resources in Montecito, CA
- Sign up for the Santa Barbara Emergency Alert System.
- Practice tuning in to AM 1610 when you arrive. This station is owned and operated by the Montecito Fire Protection District. In non-emergencies they’ll have preparedness information broadcasted, but in an emergency, tune in to this channel to get the latest evacuation updates and other critical information.
- If needed, refer to this updated map of Santa Barbara County road closures.
- Cross reference the address to you accommodations with this interactive Debris Flow Risk Area Map.
- Save to your phone and print this Fire Hazard Severity Zones in Santa Barbara County Map created by Cal Fire.
A Day in Montecito...
Shopping in Montecito
Enjoy a luxurious dining and shopping experience while exploring the Coast Village Road and Upper Village areas. Take a look in the designer stores that dot the street, and grab a table at the nearest sunny patio for a cup of coffee for a lovely day.
Get Outside in Montecito
Butterfly Beach is located right in town for a long walk or to enjoy sunbathing and water activities. The widest part of the beach is located near Butterfly Lane where there is a stairway taking you down to the beach. At lower tides, you can even walk all the way to East Beach in Santa Barbara.
Where to Eat in Montecito
Cava is a vibrant restaurant that pulls influences from Mexico, Latin America and Spain with a focus on fresh seafood. You’ll find locals packing the patio to enjoy a sunny day and a bowl of fresh papaya salsa with grilled salmon or tostadas.
Where to Drink in Montecito
Montecito Wine Bistro offers locally sourced American fare at this farm-to-table bistro featuring a patio and a mostly Californian wine list.
Ty Lounge is located in the Four Seasons Resort Biltmore and offers a refined lounge experience touting exceptional classic and signature cocktails a large beach-view patio, and fire pits.
Where to Stay in Montecito
Wherever you stay in Montecito, we recommend you learn the safety procedures in place at your accommodation and print a map and highlight routes from your accommodation to the nearest designated safety shelter.
Coast Village Inn is bright and clean and only moments from beaches and shopping. With beach cruisers to ride, a heated outdoor pool and onsite restaurant, you'll never have to leave this boutique hotel.
Montecito Inn was built in 1928 by Charlie Chaplin and a small group of investors. Today, the Montecito Inn continues to serve guests in style with elegant accommodations, onsite dining, spa and pool and nearly a decade of Hollywood history.
Inn on Summer Hill has wood accents in nearly every room, creating a warm and lovely space. Modern amenities, in-room fire places and private balconies overlooking the Pacific Ocean make every guest feel special in this distinct AAA four-diamond inn.
No matter where you live or where you travel, the Grab + Go Box is your resource for practicing vital steps to outsmart any disaster. It is the only step-by-step product that prepares you before and guides you during any natural disaster. Interactive expert resources and wellness-focused guidance help build physical and emotional resilience in you and your family.