You’ve seen the sights in Cali’s cutest small towns, relaxed in posh Left Coast resorts where you didn’t lift a finger, and day-tripped to towns where you swooned in jaw-dropping beauty. But for next-level chill, it’s time to treat yourself to a weekend getaway in Summerland. This hidden beach town is under the radar of most tourists but is still happy to welcome visitors to its unspoiled coastline, barefoot chic shops and casual dining. Here’s your itinerary—book your stay pronto.
Your 3-Day Itinerary to Summerland, California—The Ultimate Hidden Beach Town
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Beat the traffic up from Los Angeles or down from San Francisco by taking Amtrak to the Santa Barbara train station. Summerland is a little village of homes and businesses radiating backward from the Pacific, which odds are, you’ll be seeing from the window of where you’re staying. Situated ten minutes between Santa Barbara to the north and Carpinteria to the south, you’ll be able to head into either, for whatever you need. But probably a short walk to the beach and along the main street of Lillie Avenue is all the excitement you’ll need.
Where to Stay:
- Charming Beach Cottage with Ocean View (sleeps 2) $250/night
- Summerland Stagecoach Cottage (sleeps 6) $385/night
- Inn on Summer Hill (sleeps 2) $319/night
The vibe is casual in Summerland, from your footwear (flip-flops, please) to the food. Drive five minutes up to Carpinteria to grab a salad or fish and chips at the Padaro Beach Grill, where you can sit outside in view of the Pacific. Afterward, enjoy a nightcap at the Summerland Winery, where you can sit on the patio and enjoy wines sauvignons blanc and chards produced right on the Central California Coast. Bonus: Dogs are invited to accompany their owners right into the tasting room.
Before heading across the street to the beach, luxuriate in a big Belgian waffle or huevos rancheros breakfast on the porch of the Summerland Beach Café, the Victorian house built in 1893 that stands watch over the town and is the town’s most identifiable landmark, since you can see it driving by on the 101. Walk across the highway to Summerland Beach and sunbathe, or paddle out beyond the breakers on your blow-up stand-up paddleboard to enjoy the relatively smooth ocean water.
In the later afternoon, walk along Lillie Avenue and explore the eclectic collection of shops, including interior décor shop Garde, garden and home purveyor Botanik and antiques at Mary Suding Antiques & Design. Make time for a stop at The Sacred Space, a hybrid meditation space/Asian artifacts importer that’s the kind of sui generis California space that could exist few other places in the world.
After a cup of locally roasted coffee at the Red Kettle Coffee, go on an hour-long horseback ride on the beach with Summerland Beach Rides. On the way out of town, stop by Butterfly Beach with your dog on a leash to enjoy this unspoiled stretch that’s great for sunbathing, surfing and swimming. (If it’s good enough for nearby residents Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and son Archie, it’s good enough for us.) Have lunch before heading out of town at Mediterranean hang-out Coast & Olive at the Montecito Inn.