Accessories designer Kendall Conrad may have lived in Paris, New York and Los Angeles, but there's no place like Santa Barbara -- her current home. While living in the coastal California city, Conrad launched her first collection of luxe, skillfully crafted, sophisticated leather bags that has since become her eponymous line.
The designer, who owns three namesake stores that sell her luxury bags and fine jewels, travels between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles quite frequently. When she's not at her Montecito Country Mart shop (1024 Coast Village Rd.; 805-886-8344), the designer can be found at her Venice location (1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310-399-1333) and at the Brentwood Country Mart in Santa Monica (225 26th St.; 310-463-4718). Though she may spend a lot of time in L.A., the designer is no stranger to Santa Barbara's fine wine and oceanfront views.
To help us navigate the first weekend of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival -- which kicked off Jan. 30 and wraps up Feb. 9 -- we asked the designer to dish on all the best spots to check out while visiting the city also known as the "American Riviera."
When it comes to home decor, Conrad said Maison K (1159 Coast Village Rd.; 805-969-1676) and William Laman (1496 Valley Rd.; 805-969-2840) are must-visits for their unique wares found around the globe. Upstairs at Pierre Lafond (516 San Ysidro Rd.; 805-565-1502) is another local gem that "can't be beat" for its furnishings and accessories. She also finds herself frequenting a recently opened ceramics store called Miri Mara in Carpinteria. "I bought a bowl [so far]. I'm going to start collecting from there," said Conrad. She added with a laugh: "I actually bought my husband's birthday gift there. Kind like a gift for myself." The designer is also fond of L.A.-based designer Jenni Kayne's Montecito lifestyle store (535 San Ysidro Rd.; 805-309-0550), for its housewares and children's gifts. Conrad is into James Perse (1016 Coast Village Rd.; 805-969-0300) and its classic, clean-cut clothes and A Tropical Affair (12 E. Cota St.; 805-730-1625) for its variety of cute bikinis.
Conrad recommends The Hungry Cat (1134 Chapala St.; 805-884-4701) for "its great seafood and uni on the half shell," noting that the sea urchin is fresh from the nearby Channel Islands, which she's learned is the world's biggest exporter of uni. For an alfresco experience, she enjoys dining at San Ysidro Ranch (900 San Ysidro Lane; 805-565-1700), where she "likes to sit outside where the loquat trees are located in the garden." Another hot spot is Tydes at the Biltmore hotel (1260 Channel Dr.; 805-969-2261). She compares the oceanfront dining experience to "being on a ship," which doesn't sound too bad when paired with an evening cocktail. Recently opened in downtown Santa Barbara is The Lark (131 Anacapa St.; 805-284-0370), where the popcorn, drizzled with salt and olive oil, is a must-try. For dessert, she says Rory's Ice Cream (1279 Coast Village Rd.; 805-565-7540) serves up the sweetest treats. Her ice cream flavor of choice? Chocolate.
For a good workout with a pretty view, there are plenty of hiking trails to trek though. Tangerine Falls and the Hot Springs are two of Conrad's favorites. Situated against a scenic mountain range is the Vedanta Temple (927 Ladera Lane; 805-969-2903); Conrad said it's a great place to "wander through its garden; it's very peaceful and nice." Another garden to visit is the popular Lotusland (695 Ashley Rd.; 805-969-3767), which Conrad called a "no-brainer" place to visit for anyone who drops by Santa Barbara. "It's the most spectacular garden in the world," said the designer. With the weather nearly always perfect for outdoor activities, the self-described "surf mom" says Rincon Beach Park (three miles east of Carpinteria adjacent to the Santa Barbara/Ventura county line; 805-568-2461) is her favorite spot, calling it the "most beautiful beach with the best waves."