Shopping Santa Barbara Gift Guide 2020
Our Annual Rundown of Where and What to Buy During This Holiday Season in the Time of COVID
By Leslie Dinaberg | Published December 3, 2020
If there were ever a year we could use some holiday cheer, it’s definitely this one. Our holiday gift guide for 2020 spotlights some of our favorite stores and shopping hubs, as well as some other ideas to help you get into the spirit of the giving season. You might even find a little something for yourself.
As Oprah Winfrey, one of our favorite Montecito residents, says, “Every gift I’ve ever given has brought as much happiness to me as it has to the person I’ve given it to.”
In a year where supporting locally owned businesses is more important to our community than ever, here are some ideas to help get your generosity flowing.
651 Paseo Nuevo; paseonuevoshopping.com
The new Santa Barbara Outdoor Christmas Market features artisans and makers every Tuesday and Thursday-Sunday. Pick up stocking stuffers like holiday- and Dodger-print masks, Menchaca Chocolates, and handmade ornaments and jewelry. Also at the mall is the new Sweet Luxx, featuring affordable clothing that’s on the sexy side. Check out Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle for collectible toys and model-building kits, and Viva Santa Barbara for a taste of Old Spanish Days style year-round.
You’ll find some wonderful gift inspiration at the new State Street Promenade Market on the 900 and 1000 blocks every Thursday, 3-7:30 p.m. Bring some magic to your peeps with one-of-a-kind magic wands from Neil the Wandmaker, or pick up handcrafted, mermaid-approved bath bombs, soaps, oils, and sprays from Salty Brothers Soap Co.
Wine is always a welcome gift, and Meritage Wine Market can guide you to the perfect bottle to suit every taste, budget, and occasion. East Anapamu is a local trifecta of treasures from Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery (with an inventory of over 3,000 paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints and sculptures, including favorite Santa Barbara artists Hank Pitcher, Phoebe Brunner, and Meredith Brooks Abbott), The Book Den (with tens of thousands of new, used, and out-of-print books), and Paradise Found (offering peace, love, good vibes, and inspired goods since 1986).
2 Gutierrez St.; sevillasquare.com
E.G.G. Gallery (Elizabeth Gordon Gallery) has an excellent selection of contemporary art, including works by artists Sherri Belassen, Wallace Piatt, and Wesley Anderegg. Chocolate Maya’s fine chocolates are always a welcome gift, as is a spa treatment from Le Rêve Organic Day Spa and Boutique or a blowout from Carlyle Salon.
1324 State St.; arlingtonplazasb.com
Across the street from the historic Arlington Theatre is the charming Arlington Plaza, where you’ll find plenty of treats at Treat, a beauty boutique full of luxury essentials for face, hair, and body. DIANI Living is another great spot for home and garden goods sure to please even the most discerning recipients.
La Arcada Plaza
1114 State St.; laarcadasantabarbara.com
The charming sculptures, fountains, and 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival–style architecture in this square are particularly lovely during the holiday season. Gallery 113 features original art by Santa Barbara Art Association members, while Lewis + Clark is a treasure trove of collectibles, antiques, curios, and household goods. Treats from Chocolats du CaliBressan are every bit as pretty and colorful as they are delicious. And check out the new Barbieri & Kempe Wines for wines, cheese, and charcuterie.
Next to the plaza, an impressively curated selection of artful gifts can be found at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art store, including an array of finger puppets featuring everyone from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Claude Monet and a great selection of colorful puzzles and books for all ages. Check out Poppy, a women’s clothing boutique with a good selection of gifts, including Burano vegan leather totes.
You can’t go wrong with the beautiful baubles and brilliant gems at Bryant & Sons; this venerable family-owned jeweler has occupied the same location since 1965. Shop for reasonably priced fashions at Lovebird and a variety of beautiful items that highlight our city’s rich heritage at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum Shop. The Presidio area is also home to seven wine tasting rooms, all of which offer wine club memberships, an ideal gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.
Waterfront & Funk Zone
The iconic Santa Barbara Beach Arts & Craft Show has reopened just in time for the holiday season. Come down Sundays from 10 a.m. to dusk to see the work of more than 130 local artists offering paintings, photographs, pottery, jewelry, and all kinds of other interesting items. Raoul Textiles is a feast for the eyes, with gorgeous textiles and beautiful hand-printed tea towels, pillows, art, and accessories. The new Zone Studios is a cool creative space with holiday pop-ups from Plum Goods, and the artist studios of Meadow Rose Photos and Art, Jules by the Sea, and Jess Conti Leather Goods, as well as talented new vendors popping in all the time. Clothing boutique Dylan Star brings its boho-chic style to a new store, which is across the street from The Shopkeepers, where they’ve got a collection of rare posters from Santa Barbara Bowl concerts, with 10 percent of sales donated to the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation.
La Cumbre Plaza
121 S. Hope Ave.; shoplacumbre.com
A Crimson Holiday, a seasonal gift gallery in the former Tiffany & Co. location, features unique gifts from more than 40 local makers. Caron Miller’s Snuggle Fingerless Gloves are cozy, reversible, one-size-fits-all gifts that are perfect for winter outdoor dining; Fiddlesticks Designs’ unique candlesticks made from stacked art sculptures are a whimsical gift for your favorite hosts. This mall also has big brands like Macy’s department store (new pj’s never go out of style), Janie and Jack’s adorable children’s clothing, and Go! (also in Paseo Nuevo) with calendars, games, and toys for all ages.
3329 State St.
With so much focus on staying outside,7 Day Nursery has a lovely selection of outdoor furniture, pottery, and wind chimes. Chaucer’s Books is always a favorite spot for gift shopping. A Promised Land, Barack Obama’s first volume of presidential memoirs, is now available, and soccer star Megan Rapinoe has a new biography, One Life, that’s sure to please admirers. Renaud’s Patisserie has specialty picnic kits for a beautiful lunch — complete with mimosa makings — and a romantic gift for that special someone.
The strip next to Loreto Plaza, near the San Roque post office, also has some unique treasures, starting with Skin Deep, which has a wonderful selection of beauty care products, bath essentials, accessories, and jewelry — including my new go-to gift, a fashionable assortment of masks. Just a few doors down is Il Fustino, specializing in olive oils and vinegars in an impressive array of flavors, as well as all kinds of tasty gift options for your favorite foodies.
Montecito Country Mart
1016 Coast Village Rd.; montecitocountrymart.com
A nice collection of boutique shops such as the new Clic, featuring home decor and apparel; beautiful swimwear from Coco Cabana; James Perse fashions for men and women; and Toy Crazy’s excellent selection of kid-fun stuff makes this a convenient spot for a little bit of everything. Holiday pop-ups include Studio C, a California lifestyle boutique curated by the editors of C Magazine; Clare V. handbags and accessories; and a jewelry collection from renowned designer (and Montecito resident) Sheryl Lowe.
Coast Village Road
Effortless style is always on display at the shops on Coast Village Road. Baske California’s selection of women’s shoes, accessories, and clothing is one of the newest additions, as is the “innovatively nostalgic” women’s clothing boutique J. McLaughlin. The bohemian-influenced Johnny Was is sure to have something to please her colorful spirit, as will the luxurious classics at Allora by Laura.
San Ysidro Road is always a convenient and easily walkable place to shop. Check out the Jenni Kayne Collection for cozy loungewear and throws that are perfect for winter. The ever-changing mix of unique objects at Imagine Artful Things will put you in a “one for me, one for you” shopping mode, as will the lovely goods on display at Upstairs at Pierre Lafond.
Santa Barbara Gift Baskets has all kinds of great gift options in Old Town Goleta. A favorite for 2020 is a gourmet gift basket that benefits the Foodbank and supports 15 different small businesses as well, including Ocean Ranch Organics, Shalhoob, and Jessica Foster Confections, among others. Bicycle Bob’s has an extensive inventory of bikes, apparel, and accessories to make that next ride even more enjoyable. Also worth a visit are Santa Barbara Cider Company in Old Town and Goleta Red Distilling Company closer to Camino Real Marketplace — because who doesn’t love a gift of their favorite libations? Garden lovers will appreciate a plant or two from La Sumida Nursery. The nearby Terra Sol Garden Center is renowned for its large selection of pottery, garden statuary, and fountains.
Linden Avenue is home to Seaside Makers Collective— which also has an outpost in the Funk Zone — and is the spot to pick up vinotherapy products from The Grapeseed Co., as well as handmade gifts. Check out Murphys Vinyl Shack for a terrific selection of records and other music-inspired mementos from the analog world. Take another trip down memory lane at Robitaille’s Fine Candies, which has just about every kind of sweet you can imagine for the holiday season. Also nearby is Heritage Goods and Supply, a homespun collection of unique goods. Westerlay Orchids offers an extensive selection of already-potted-up house plants to uplift and beautify any home or office (or home office).
Summerland is enjoying a bit of a retail boom these days. Known for its lovingly curated space and inviting indoor/outdoor vibe, Porch (in Carpinteria for 12 years) has a new and larger home on Lillie Avenue, with a unique selection of furnishings, kitchen goods, textiles, bedding, coffee table books, succulents, and art. Other newcomers to the strollable street are Sweet Wheel Farms, Field+Fort (which also has a lovely café, as shopping does make one famished!) and The Well, along with Sacred Space, Botanik, Summerland Oriental Rugs, and GARDE, making this charming area into a great design destination.
SANTA YNEZ VALLEY
Wildflower Women is an approachable women’s boutique, and don’t miss the “Sandbox” within the store, featuring clothing for infants and children. An indoor-outdoor treasure trove of plants, succulents, garden art, and home accessories housed in a 115-year old farmhouse, J. Woeste is a must-see. Santa Barbara and Montecito fashion favorite Wendy Foster also has a charming outpost in the area.
The “most Christmassy town in America” has more than 150 one-of-a-kind shops. Your favorite chef will love an assortment of spices, sugars, salts, and gifts from Solvang Spice Merchant. The Copenhagen House has an expansive selection of artful gifts, toys, and kitchen items imported from Denmark. Solvang is also a great spot to purchase goodies from almost a dozen Danish bakeries and local wine from more than 20 tasting rooms.
LOCAL CREATIONS, ONLINE
If you prefer to do your holiday shopping online, you can still support the local economy with vendors like Santa Barbara Creates featuring artist Judi Weisbart’s stunning handmade menorahs and more. The Morph Collapsible Foam Roller is a TSA-friendly, portable version of a foam roller that lets you work out the kinks wherever you go. Specializing in graceful Chinese-inspired brushstrokes, artist Suemae Willhite offers a variety of beautiful gift items. Artist Brad Nack, whose reindeer paintings are a favorite Santa Barbara tradition, has a new book, 100% Reindeer Art Book, that’s a perfect gift for keeping holiday spirit alive year round.
Rent kayaks through Paddle Sports Center in the Santa Barbara Harbor for some easy paddling fun for the whole family, or go bigger and book a full-day kayak tour with Channel Islands Adventure Company. Santa Barbara Sailing Center rents kayaks and sailboats, or why not take the whole family whale watching aboard the Condor Express or sailing on the Sunset Kidd? Santa Barbara Bikes to Go rents four different kinds of electric bikes for a fun way to explore the city together.