Ian Allen

Relaxing on California’s coast.

January 21, 2015

Romance abounds in this coastal California town—long a getaway for Hollywood royalty—whose untamed yet civilized landscape is dotted with Mediterranean mansions, sprawling orange groves, and chaparral-covered mountains that plunge into the ocean.

Belmond El Encanto

Seven years and $134 million in the making, Belmond's takeover of the storied El Encanto (the brand's first West Coast resort) is reinventing a genteel slice of California history. The once quaint hillside hotel (a favorite of A-listers such as Clark Gable in the 1960's) has been reimagined to include 92 California Craftsman and Spanish-colonial-revival bungalows spread over seven lushly landscaped acres. In the guest rooms, century-old charms were preserved (we loved the plantation-style shutters and wide patios) while luxe updates were added (mohair loveseats; pillows monogrammed with guests' initials). It's tempting to hang up a Do Not Disturb sign and stay put. We suggest making time for the farm-to-fork restaurant: the bounty of vegetables and herbs from the on-site garden did not disappoint, nor did the aged white cheddar made with milk from its very own Holstein cow, Ellie.

Santa Barbara Saturday Farmers' Market

Six blocks from the town courthouse, this weekly market is the perfect place to watch gray-haired hippies, dreadlocked surfers, and well-heeled natives hunt for Central Coast olive oils and zingy lemon-flavored pistachios.

Scarlett Begonia

The open-air trolley on State Street leads to organic lunch spot Scarlett Begonia, which serves one of the best brunches in town. Snag a table in the hidden courtyard and order the salmon carpaccio.

The Shop, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara's latest arrival is a casual breakfast-and-lunch spot whose home-style sandwiches are inspired by Ugandan street food. For breakfast, try the scrambled eggs, bacon, and smoked tomato on house-made flatbread.

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