The first offshore oil barraks in the Western Hemisphere filled the coastline in 1894. Quite a change in 5 years, from seances attempting to communicate with the departed, to a barrage of oil workers into this sleepy town. By the 20s, the easy oil had dried up and the unsightly oil piers were history.
Durring the depression jobs had dried up with the oil, and there was lack of a dependable water supply which kept the town from expanding. After World War II some new homes and apartments did appear, but residents called the town a "small wonder" since housing was inexpensive and most had wonderful ocean views.
The 1960's and 70's saw an influx of free spirits, hippies and artists drawn to the inexpensive living available in Summerland. Also in the mix were a number of surfers, who migrated north from Southern California beaches, establishing shops and shaping surfboards.
The 80's saw a big change, as more water became available and a building boom followed. The still relatively inexpensive land values attracted developers and large new houses rose up on the hillsides, taking advantage of the views. The trend has continued and today Summerland is a more upscale place, with antique stores, art galleries and restaurants lining the main street of Lillie Ave.
Perhaps the most well known landmark in Summerland is The Big Yellow House. It was originally built as the home of H.L. Williams, the founder of Summerland, and hosted many Saences during Summerland's spiritualist era. It was a resturant for as many years back as I can remember, and there have been numerous accounts of haunting activity. After sitting vacant for several years, the property is undergoing major renovation, and as far as I understand, will be leased as office space. Not quite as romantic as a big old resturant, but definitely better for the town than vacant and vandalized.
The fact that Summerland has this interesting history contributes to it's charm today. I love the historic ramshackle feel of the town. Chic, restored victorians reside next to funky shacks and vacant lots with old funky boats among the weeds. It reminds me of San Francisco in it's own small town way. All these structures pearched on a hill side above the sea, staggered about on these tiny, steep streets winding through it all.
Summerland today is home to so many amazing shops and resturants. While I have been living nearby for sometime, it was only recently that I began to realize all of the amazing one of a kind treasures that exist in Summerland. Cafe Luna is my favorite stop for espresso, I love their grilled cheese sandwiches and they have an amazing out door pizza oven. The iced chai with almond milk is to die for!! And for those who haven't had the pleasure of meeting "Tinker", he is one of the nicest, friendliest people you will ever have the chance to know. The crowd for breakfast on the weekends at the Summerland Beach Café speaks for itself and The Nugget's burgers are legendary!
Botanic and Amelia Jane are the beautiful home and children's boutiques both owned by Erin Taylor. The perfect stop for gifts, you will probably leave with a thing or two for yourself as well.
Did you know in Summerland, everyone stops for their mail daily at the local post office. This is where everyone runs into each other to catch up and chat. How small town is that?
This is Summerland Presbyterian Church. A tiny, quaint church once described by the pastor as "little house on the prairie".
Summerland beach at the base of Lookout Park. A perfect place for a beach walk with your family, and it's dog friendly.
The path down to the beach from Lookout Park.
There is so much more in Summerland that I didn't even mention. Waxing Poetic the "charming" jewelry shop. I want one (or more) of their pieces So badly! And what can be said about their marble floors? Just go check them out. Cantwell's Summerland Market is where everyone in Summerland goes to pick up last minute snacks, sandwiches and other delicious goodies. I have stopped in for a bottle of wine on several afternoons! And I can't leave out the Bikini Factory-a Summerland Staple for as long as I can remember!
So the next time you are stuck in traffic heading north or south do what all the celebrities are doing. Stop in Summerland for lunch, shopping and a sunset walk on the beach. I guarantee once you spend the afternoon in Summerland, it will become a place you want to visit again and again!