Monday, May 2, 2022 / by Sofie Langhorne
Few places in the world ooze the Santa Barbara lifestyle, quite like its private clubs. From beachfront properties to sprawling foothills estates, these members-only havens offer a luxurious and exclusive escape from the everyday. But while they may be known for their privilege and seclusion, these clubs are also deeply rooted in the local community. Here's a look at some of Santa Barbara's most iconic private clubs and how they contribute to the vibrant appeal of the neighborhood.
The Santa Barbara Club
The Santa Barbara Club is one of the city's oldest and most prestigious social clubs. Founded back in 1892, this private Club quickly became a hub for like-minded individuals from various backgrounds and interests. Whether you were an active member of the local arts scene, a businessman looking to build connections in the community, or simply a social butterfly looking to mingle with other fun and vibrant individuals, the Santa Barbara Club had something for everyone.
Membership is by invitation only, and there are various interest groups within the Club, including a Breakfast Club, an Investors Club, and a Wine Group Club. Each member has access to them and could use their beautiful clubhouse. If you want to explore your love of fine art or meet up with fellow foodies at the latest wine tasting event, something exciting always happens at the Santa Barbara Club. And if spending time there left you craving even more social interaction, then never fear – as a private club, their members enjoyed exclusive access to other well-regarded social clubs throughout the greater area.
The University Club of Santa Barbara
The University Club of Santa Barbara is an elite social club that has been a hallmark of the vibrant Santa Barbara community since 1919. With networking events, dozens of different social clubs and organizations, and exclusive membership benefits, this Club attracts members from various backgrounds and interests. Operating as both a cherished gathering place and a prestigious networking hub, the University Club is truly a one-of-a-kind institution in the city.
Located in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, they offer members enrichment, socialization, connections, fine dining, and relaxation. A haven in an otherwise chaotic day, the chance to gather with like-minded peers around your fire and enjoy great food.
May 2019 saw the opening of the Miramar Club, a members-only extension of the luxurious and elegant Rosewood Miramar Resort. Located in Montecito, California, the Club offers members an oceanfront haven with numerous exclusive amenities. Curated events, monthly programming, and culinary and retail offerings are among the many benefits members enjoy. In addition, the Club offers families a variety of family-friendly events and activities. The Miramar Club provides an exclusive experience for its members and has quickly become one of the most sought-after membership clubs in Southern California.
Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club
The Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club is a world-famous private club located right on Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara, California. Founded in 1937, the Club was purchased by Ty Warner in 2000, in conjunction with his purchase of the historic Biltmore hotel across the street. Both properties were shuttered in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and remain closed. Membership in the Club grants members signature access to the Club's pools, fitness centers, Canaba rentals, and excellent dining experiences. The Club also offers its members a variety of exclusive events and opportunities throughout the year. The Club has been host to signature events such as an annual black-tie gala, celebrity golf tournament, and fashion show in recent years. Despite its current closure, the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club remains one of the most prestigious globally coveted memberships.
The Club & Guest House at UC Santa Barbara
The UCSB Guest House is normally reserved for visiting scholars, families of students, and those on university business, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains closed through the rest of 2021. The Guest House was established in 1968 and renovated in 2014, and it emulates a 34-room boutique hotel. It features ocean views and is known as the "living room" of the UCSB campus. Despite the pandemic, the Guest House remains a popular destination for those who want to experience the UCSB campus as it is open to the public.
The Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club
Polo has been called "the sport of kings" for centuries, and there's no place in the United States that embraces that regal tradition quite like the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club. Founded in 1911, it's one of the oldest Polo clubs in the country, and it hosts players from all over the world, including some from royal families. The Club features the country's longest Polo season, running from May through mid-October, and games are free to the general public on Fridays. Sunday games require tickets. It operates its own training center, and Polo membership includes access to the social membership options such as invitations to exclusive events and many more. Whether you're a Polo aficionado or just looking for a unique way to experience this classic sport, the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is worth a visit.
The Montecito Club
The Montecito Club recently reopened its doors following a three-year, $75 million renovation and subsequent COVID closure. The Spanish-style property, which is part of Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, underwent a complete transformation, resulting in a modern and luxurious space that still maintains the historic charm of the original Club. The members get exclusive access and discounts at sister resorts like the San Ysidro Ranch, the Four Seasons New York, and Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos. The Club offers a world-class golf experience with three championship courses, a pro shop, and special events throughout the year.
The Valley Club of Montecito
Opened in 1929, the Valley Club is one of Montecito's premier destinations for golf and leisure. Boasting an elegant 18-hole, par-72 golf course that emulates an hourglass shape, this Club offers players a rewarding experience that has recently undergone extensive renovations following the devastating mudslides of 2018. In addition to its acclaimed golf course, the Valley Club also offers tennis courts and world-class dining right onsite. Accessed via a charming gated entrance, the clubhouse is a luxurious getaway featuring a welcoming living room area and a secluded inner courtyard that is ideal for taking time to relax and rejuvenate away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. And with its strict dress code and membership requirements, the Club exudes an air of class and exclusivity that makes it highly sought after among Montecito residents.
Birnam Wood is one of the most exclusive and sought-after private communities in all of California. With more than 140 private homes tucked away inside its gated property, Birnam Wood offers a wealth of luxurious amenities for its residents, including a par-70 golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., six beautifully maintained tennis courts, and a variety of social events hosted at the stylish clubhouse. This exclusive community also boasts six tennis courts where you can work up a sweat during your downtime or simply unwind with friends and family.
La Cumbre Country Club
Located on the outer edges of Hope Ranch, La Cumbre Country Club has a long and storied history dating back to its founding in 1916. Originally built as a retreat for members of high society, the Club enjoyed much success until the end of World War II when membership began to wane. However, it was eventually reopened in 1957 and has since undergone multiple expansions and upgrades, offering multiple membership options for those looking for an exclusive club that offers plenty of fun recreational activities. Boasting an acclaimed 18-hole golf course alongside six championship tennis courts, La Cumbre Country Club is truly an elite get away with something for everyone to enjoy.
Santa Barbara Yacht Club
The Santa Barbara Yacht Club is committed to preserving the rich maritime heritage of the community. Founded in 1872, It is one of the oldest and most respected yacht clubs on the West Coast, with members who deeply appreciate the sea and all that it has to offer. The popular Wet Wednesdays program draws dozens of boats and sailors every week, and the kiteboarding enthusiasts always bring a lively crowd on Fridays. The members of this Club are stewards of the Breakwater Flag Project, which support numerous nonprofit groups throughout the region. Committed to ensuring the important piece of maritime history remains an enduring symbol of coastal tradition for years to come.
Knowlwood Tennis Club
If you are looking for a fantastic tennis club in the heart of Montecito, look no further than this well-established facility, which dates back to 1970. Its programs are focused on families, with a wide range of private and group lessons for kids as young as four. These programs are open to members and non-members alike, although pricing may be a bit higher for non-members. With ten courts in total, including two clay courts, this Club has everything you need to enjoy your favorite sport at the highest level. The Club also features a swimming pool, making it the perfect place to cool off after a hard workout on the court.
Santa Barbara Tennis Club
Since opening in 1971, the Santa Barbara Tennis Club has become a hub for tennis lovers, adults, and juniors. With 12 beautifully maintained courts and a wide range of training sessions and resources, it is the perfect place for the players to hone their skills or get comfortable on the court. There is also a comprehensive aquatics program featuring a large pool that is kept at a comfortable 82 degrees and a jacuzzi where you can relax after strenuous workouts. In addition, the fitness center offers a variety of fitness classes and studios, such as yoga and Pilates, making it easy to fit exercise into even the busiest schedule. And whether you are in search of casual play or an intense training session, you're always sure to find delicious food and drink at the café on site.
Santa Barbara is a unique community with plenty to offer its residents. If you're looking for a neighborhood with private clubs galore, look no further than this beautiful town by the sea. Reach out if you want more information about moving here – we would be happy to help!