Welcome to Riviera

This arching eyebrow of hillside just north of downtown Santa Barbara parallels the picturesque Mediterranean coasts of France and Italy—and is one of the area’s most desirable communities. Divided into an upper and lower section by its scenic thoroughfare, the curvy Alameda Padre Serra, The Riviera's residents trade lawn space to live high on the land, gazing across the graceful sprawl of downtown Santa Barbara all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.

Key Details


great weather, great views, mansions, quiet, privacy, historic


Commute Times
Downtown Santa Barbara 7m by car
Montecito 12m by car
The Mesa 14m by car
East to West Sycamore Canyon Rd. to Mountain Dr.
North to South Mission Ridge Rd. to parts of Laguna St., Olive St., and Alta Vista Rd.
Nearby Neighborhoods Montecito, Downtown Santa Barbara, The Mesa

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The riviera:
A well-heeled, long-established neighborhood with unrivaled views and a neighborhood-y vibe.

Once considered too arid and barren to settle, this high-on-the-hill hamlet turned into some of Santa Barbara’s most alluring turf by the mid-1900s. Known for majestic 100-year-old oak trees, 20th century Italian stonemason-built terracing, and an abundance of classic Spanish-style homes built in the ‘20s to ‘50s, Riviera dwellers choose between living on the favored south-facing front side, with panoramic views of downtown Santa Barbara and the gleaming Pacific, or the equally stunning back end, with vistas of the Santa Ynez mountains.

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What to expect:
Little traffic and lots of peace and quiet—this ‘hood is primarily residential.

While most of Rivieran life is lived at home, the few public gathering spots that dot the windy streets are beloved: The classy Belmond El Encanto Hotel, for its sunny dining terrace and California coastal cuisine; the old Riviera Theater, for its artsy movies in a historic setting; and tiny Franceschi Park (once the home of famed botanist Francesco Franceschi), for its unequaled views of downtown Santa Barbara. The area’s prestigious Marymount school is also one of its proudest assets.

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The lifestyle:
An endless parade of sunsets from your expansive balcony or deck—almost every home has one.

Large lawnscapes are rare in the Riviera. Grassy knolls are traded for cliffside living, and many homes play up the incredible views with enormous ocean-facing picture windows and vast decks. Outdoor barbeques and nightly sundowner drinks are a must.

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Unexpected appeal:
Sunny, fog-free days.

A majority of homes in the area are south-facing, which allows for maximum light for as much as 12 hours a day. Plus, you’re high above the cloudy marine layer.

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The market:
Active and often competitive, especially for the highly-desirable historic Spanish-style homes.

Upper Riviera homes (those above the Alameda Padre Serra, or “APS”) are generally larger and more widely spaced, with superior views; Lower Riviera homes still have solid ocean sightlines but tend to be more densely plotted and occupy smaller lots.

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You'll fall in love with:
Unsurpassed views of downtown Santa Barbara, the Pacific ocean, and the Channel Islands.

Nowhere else in Santa Barbara offers such wide-ranging perspective of the entire cityscape and beyond. Land is cherished here because of its lofty position, and visitors are often rendered speechless by the vast panorama.

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Other Neighborhoods in Santa Barbara, Montecito, & Central Coast to Explore