Montecito is a chic, star-studded city in Santa Barbara County that offers upscale shopping and fancy restaurants of all kinds, but it’s the stunning natural beauty of its shoreline that make it one of the best vacation spots in all of Central California.
Butterfly Beach is a local favorite in Montecito. Visitors come to paddle board, kayak, sunbathe, fish, walk their dogs, and catch a rare over-the-water sunset thanks to the beach’s unique east-west positioning. They also like to cycle down the bike path to nearby Stearns Wharf Pier.
The beach may not have facilities, but it makes up for it with its charm, beautiful views, and the chance of a celebrity sighting.
Butterfly Lane and Channel Drive in Montecito
Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, walking, jogging, biking.
There are no lifeguards at Butterfly Beach, so swim at your own risk.
The beach is known for the uncommon characteristic (at least locally) of facing relatively west, which makes for incredible sunsets. It’s common for people to gather at sundown in order to catch a glimpse.
Dogs are allowed on the beach provided they are leashed.
There are no facilities at Butterfly Beach. If you’re going, prepare accordingly.
You can walk to Hammonds Beach from Butterfly Beach at low tide. Hammonds is a popular surfing spot which allows dogs provided they are on a leash.
You can also reach East Beach in Santa Barbara from Butterfly Beach when the tide is low. There you can swim, sunbathe, play volleyball, jog, walk, skateboard, and bike. They have restrooms, picnic tables, a skate park, and a restaurant.
Also found at East Beach is Stearns Wharf Pier. Stearns Wharf is an iconic California landmark that offers shopping, dining, fishing, great views, and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.
For high end overnight accommodations, the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort overlooks Butterfly Beach. It doesn’t come cheap, but the service is world class, and so are the views.
The list of celebrity citizens of Montecito is seemingly endless. Some of the most notable names are actors Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, and Owen Wilson, actresses Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Portia de Rossi, TV personality Ellen DeGeneres, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, and Oprah Winfrey.
Stearns Wharf was built in 1872. It has since endured multiple disasters such as earthquakes and fires, even closing for a period of six years at one point. Today it is Santa Barbara’s most popular tourist attraction, welcoming over five million visitors a year.