Best Places to Spend Christmas
Santa Barbara, CA
Why Go: During winter, the coastal towns in Santa Barbara County combine New England–style comfort and old California elegance with outrageous holiday kitsch.
Where to Stay: In Montecito, the 500-acre San Ysidro Ranch could be a Vermont hunting lodge (rooms have wood-beamed ceilings and stone hearths), except that it’s 20 minutes from world-class surfing at Rincon Beach.
Holiday Dinner: Go super casual at Stacky’s Seaside, which stands out like a grounded trawler. Fortify yourself with its fish and chips before hitting the Summerland Winery’s tasting room for a wine that shouldn’t work but does: a sparkling Zinfandel.
—M. G. Lord