The next time you find yourself stuck in traffic on U.S. 101, take a worthwhile detour to Summerland.
Stroll along its main street, Lillie Avenue, and take in the sights and charming delights that its 1,500 residents have already discovered. The best way to explore this artsy, eclectic village is on foot. It doesn’t take long as you stroll through this quant hillside beach town to discover there are plenty of unique attractions and diversions concentrated along this one-mile strip of street.
Here are a few hot spots to visit.
1. Take a Dip
The Summerland Beach presents a beautiful, serene setting to take a dip in the water, stroll along the water’s edge, or explore the tide pools located a peaceful expanse below the bluffs. Directions: Exit 101 at Evans Avenue in Summerland.
If burgers are your thing, the Summerland Beach Café offers Tuesday Night Hamburger Madness. Try the Swiss and mushroom double-patty hamburger — true yumminess between two buns.
If grab-and-go is more your style, check out Cafe Luna and order the Kale Spinach Smoothie. You can also try their house-made granola and fresh fruit yogurt. The café obtains its fresh herbs and veggies from Montecito Urban Farms’ “Tower Gardens,” located next door.
Another local favorite is Cantwell’s Deli, inside the Summerland Market, where custom fresh deli sandwiches are served. They serve specialty sandwiches like the Hippie, the Big Pig, the New Yorker, or the Italian Stallion.
• Summerland Beach Café, 2294 Lillie Ave., 805-969-1019, www.summerlandbeachcafe.com
• Cafe Luna, 2354 Lillie Ave., 805-695-8780
• Montecito Urban Farms, 2352 Lillie Ave., 805-617-3338, www.montecitourbanfarms.com
• Cantwell’s Deli, 2580 Lillie Ave., 805-969-5893, www.cantwellsmarket.com
All this walking works up a thirst. Visit The Nugget Bar and Grill, the town’s favorite watering hole. Any bartender here can lasso one of their signature stiff drinks and if their drinks don’t satisfy, their kitschy, saloon-style decor will.
4. Shop Till You Drop
So many great shops and galleries to choose from along Summerland’s Lillie Avenue make it hard to feature just one, so here are a few favorites. Though small in size, Botanik offers distinctive and stylish garden and home collections. If you’re in pursuit of antiques, consider Mary Suding Antiques — Mary’s collection dates back to 1973.
• The Nugget Bar and Grill, 2318 Lillie Ave., 805-969-6135
• Botanik, 2329 Lillie Ave., 805-565-3831, www.botanikinc.com
• Mary Suding Antiques, 2240 Lillie Ave., 805-969-4324, www.marysudingantiques.com
5. Transcendental Destinations
As you stroll along Lillie Avenue, you can’t help but hear strange sounds — or is it singing? It’s actually a symphony of birds calling out a welcome from one of Summerland’s more unusual attractions, McLeod Parrot Menagerie. As you walk in, the sounds and colors instantly transport you to a tropical jungle where you can hand-feed and talk with the birds.
Indeed, a mixture of spiritual journey and exotic vacation, The Sacred Space is described by its owners, Rose and Jack Herschorn, as “passing through the portal of their front door and being transported to another world, via their tropical gardens, fountains, hand-carved deities, and Bali pavilions.”
The husband-and-wife team has traveled countless times to Asia hunting for treasures that are rare and have plenty of history. Visitors can purchase a carved stone statue or an original piece of jewelry, or simply bask in the enchanted exotic garden resembling Bali.
Stay a Little Longer?
Visitors to Summerland may want to extend their visit and stay the night. No worries: Summerland offers up the perfect night’s stay at the Inn on Summer Hill, where you can relax in luxe style and discover more of Summerland’s hidden treasures in the morning.
• Inn on Summer Hill, 2520 Lillie Ave., 805-969-9998, www.innonsummerhill.com