Real Estate

Santa Barbara’s nickname as “the American Riviera” may sound like an overreach. But spend time driving into hillside neighborhoods where winding roads lead to balconies and patios on Spanish-style homes high above the ocean and you’ll quickly see the resemblance to the Mediterranean Sea.

Nowhere is this truer than in the Riviera neighborhood. It’s one of the city’s older and most exclusive slope-side enclaves known for its surrounding natural beauty.

One example: the hilltop home for sale at 20 Camino Alto, which offers sweeping views of the ocean, Channel Islands and the Santa Ynez Mountains. “Where else do you see a house where just about every single room has a view, including the laundry room,” says listing agent Beth Slifirski of Village Properties.

The Spanish-style house with a red tiled roof was completed in 2023. Balconies and patios, including one with large arches and an outdoor lounge overlooking a pool, showcase views of the curving coastline and the water beyond. The house has four bedrooms and five bathrooms in 4,000 square feet on two levels.

The open floor plan in the living and dining rooms on the first floor keeps nature close. Both rooms have 13-foot ceilings with timbered beams and access to outdoor view areas. The nearby kitchen features an island with a calcite counter and seating for casual dining.

On the upper floor, the primary bedroom provides a private sanctuary, a quiet space where scenery again sets the tone. The ensuite bathroom with marble floors and walls, as well as custom oak vanities, contains a two-person shower and luxurious soak tub next to a large window that frames the hillside.

Aside from the location, details also make the house a standout. It was developed and built by Red Bridge Homes with touches, such as a hand-laid mosaic marble floor in the foyer, French limestone in the pool area and terra-cotta roof tiles with copper gutters. Other amenities on the property include two Tesla charging stations, security cameras, irrigation system and heated floors throughout.

For those who like to entertain, there’s an indoor/outdoor barbecue room, temperature controlled wine room that holds more than 600 bottles of wine, wet bar, pool and hot tub. Other areas include a workout room and home theater.

Outside the home, It’s a short drive to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, a showcase of California native plants. Here you can follow hiking trails at the 87-acre site to find redwood trees planted along a creek and meadows filled with California poppies. In the other direction sits Lotusland, carefully cultivated gardens that are open to the public by appointment. The gardens were the creation and passion pursuit of the late Ganna Walska.

It’s hard to believe the neighborhood that sits between Mission and Sycamore canyons was considered inhospitable and difficult to access until the 1870s. As the city grew and more roads were built, developers realized the value of constructing homes with views of the ocean. That winning formula turned out to be as true decades ago as it is today.

The property is on the market for $8,499,000.

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