How to make your way around Santa Barbara like a pro

Santa Barbara is recognized for its historical and cultural landmarks making it the perfect place to visit with your family. The community and state are strongly committed to restoring and maintaining Santa Barbara’s essence and beautiful traditional architecture. It is one of the most beautiful cities in California with its waterfront and mountain backdrop. It’s so easy to make your way around the county with all of the most picturesque locations, some even dating back to the 18th century, all in close proximity.

Santa Barbara Palms_kenny slaught
Image courtesy of Extra Medium at

One of the most visited destinations is Mission Santa Barbara, which stands apart from the rest due to its history. The church was originally built by Father Antionio Ripoli in 1812, but due to an earthquake had to be rebuilt in 1829. It’s the only mission to remain with the Franciscans after being secularized, besides being the only one that is still standing to this day. Today it serves as a parish church, and was rebuilt with earthquake-proof construction to ensure that it stays standing for many years to come. When visiting be sure to go to the museum, which is full of colonial art pieces and tons of fascinating artifacts, the breathtaking gardens and the cemetery that was the final resting place to many Indians and Spaniards of the time.

Santa Barbara Courthouse is another perfect example of Spaniard architecture in the style of a palace. It was completed after the earthquake of 1929. In the entrance hall you’ll find an unusual mix of stunning Islamic, Romanesque and Byzantine architecture.  The El Mirador bell tower has a gorgeous view looking out over the city with the ocean in the background. The decoration also stands out with with paintings by Allan Gilbert Cram and Van Cina, and even an original Grosbeck.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse_kenny slaught_2
Image courtesy of Konrad Summers at

The next stop can definitely be the Santa Barbara Museum of Art which has a large collection of art, but is especially well-known for its Monet pieces. Although another highlight is the David Alfaro Siqueiros mural of the United States. On the grounds, which is over 60,000 square feet, has a museum store, a café, a large library and a children’s gallery. In their traveling exhibits you can revisit over 5,000 years of human history.

The Santa Barbara Channel comes alive thanks to a cooperative venture between the Marine Sanctuary and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History with the Ty Warner Sea Channel. This interactive experience will allow you to live the channel in a unique way by examining microscopic marine life, study animal behavior, testing ocean water, and even touching live specimens. This place is amazing to go with your family, particularly with children who can enjoy the touch pool and get a peek at how a tidal pool looks underneath the windows of a huge tank.

For some light shopping or a nice lunch, you can make it down to State Street, which is in the same area, to Stearns Wharf. It was built in 1872, becoming the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Most people swing by simply to take a stroll and sightsee.

If you’re in the mood for a stroll through gardens with native California plants and trees, then you’ll find that the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden showcases just that. This garden has been around since the 1930s and thus has a variety of mature trees and plants that decorate its gardens. Some of the plants are labeled as as a Santa Barbara County Historic Landmark. You can also find a bookstore and a shops with other items, such as a California native plant.

The Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez Mountains are the view you’ll be able to enjoy from the
Santa Barbara Zoo. It’s located on over 30 acres and is known for all of the variety of animals, reptiles and insects. It is full of open spaces, native plants and trees giving you the feeling of walking through a botanical garden. There are tons of programs for kids like feeding domesticated sheep, or a giraffe feeding in station. Don’t forget the carousel and zoo train that are favorites for the kids.

Giraffe_Santa Barbara Zoo_kenny slaught
Image courtesy of Wendell Follow at

If you’re up for checking out the Old Naval Reserve Center than the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is the perfect place to be. Its doors have been open since 1994, after it the U.S. Navy training facility closed down. You can visit the theater, the constantly changing exhibits and a variety of sailboats and fishing boats. You can also check out documentaries and current maritime movies at the Munger Theater. The whole family will enjoy the trip down to the marine and learn a lot in the process.



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