California Tour & Travel

From the early days of the Chumash Indians to the influx of the Franciscans, Santa Barbara’s architecture represents a fusion of Mediterranean, Spanish, early Californian, Mexican, Moorish and English Country design styles. Many architects have made an imprint on Santa Barbara, leaving a rich legacy of multiple cultures and designs throughout the county. Low-pitched tile roofs, porcelain plaster walls, arched facades, enclosed garden courtyards and wrought iron embellishments strewn with bougainvillea are common threads that link the city. Today, Santa Barbara fuses more of these design elements than anywhere else in the country.
  A major turning point in the city’s architectural design was the 1925 earthquake that razed the majority of Santa Barbara’s public and private dwellings. Following the temblor, an Architectural Board of Review was established and created stringent guidelines that are reflected in the city’s present day Spanish Mediterranean design. Today, restored 19th century adobes blend beautifully with the Mission Revival mansions of Montecito, luxurious beachfront estates and California bungalows, making Santa Barbara’s architecture one of the most recognized in the world.
RED TILE WALKING TOURState St., Santa Barbara  
   Many of the city’s 70+ designated landmarks are enjoyed via the self-guided Red Tile Walking Tour. Encompassing a 12-block area of downtown, the tour highlights the city’s most fascinating red tile roof landmarks, including the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, Casa de la Guerra, El Paseo and Lobero Theatre. Contact the Santa Barbara County Visitors Bureau for map information.

One of best examples of original Spanish Colonial adobe-style architecture is seen in structures that are part of the El Presidio De Santa Barbara Historic Park (1782), part of the last military outpost in California.
 The largest of the El Presidio buildings, The Presidio Chapel (1788), was reconstructed on its original foundations and contains 18th century-era deacon, including the padres’ and commandants’ quarters with authentically reproduced furniture.  A 15-minute slide show and scale model of the El Presidio also gives visitors a fascinating impression of life in Old Spanish California. Located across the street from the Presidio Chapel is Santa Barbara’s oldest adobe El Cuartel (1788) the former residence of Jose Jesus Valenzuela, gatekeeper of the fort during the Mexican period. Considered one of the most coveted remnants of Santa Barbara’s Spanish-Mexican heritage, Casa de la Guerra (1819-27), a u-shaped adobe built by Jose de la Guerra, ranks among the city’s most famous architectural landmarks. In 1923, Casa de la Guerra was remodeled and became a traditional gathering place for festival art activities. Today, it is a historic house museum reflecting the period of 1828 - 1858 when Don Jose de la Guerra resided in the casa. Other prominent homes in this style: the Hill-Carrillo Adobe (1825-26) at 11 East Carrillo Street, Lugo Adobe (1830) at 114 East De La Guerra Street and Rochin Adobe (1856) at 820 Santa Barbara Street.
  The most visited landmark of the city is Mission Santa Barbara, was founded in 1786 by the Franciscans. It's known as “Queen of the Missions, designed by architect Antonio Ripoll.  This masterpiece showcases the best of Greco-Roman architecture with columns and statuary on top of the cornice. The Mission’s famed Roman sandstone facade is based on a plate in the Spanish edition of Vitruvius’ books and highlights dual bell towers the only California mission to have twin towers. The grand edifice stands on an elevated plateau that commands a view to the ocean, framed by the Riviera and mesa areas. Visitors can attend mass on Sundays and take a self- or docent-led tour through the Mission museum, lush gardens, courtyards, chapel and cemetery where 4,000 Chumash Indians are buried.

  What is distinct about Santa Barbara architecture is its blend of century-old adobe houses, renowned mission churches and luscious tropical horticulture. Out of these ingredients evolved one of America’s first major regional architectural styles Mission Revival. Since the early 1890s, Mission Revival has drawn upon the California missions for stylistic inspiration.
Santa Barbara MissionOne of the foremost architects of this style was Arthur Page Brown.  His residential works, five Crocker Row (1894-95) homes on Garden Street, highlight such design elements as ornate scalloped window detailing and pointed arched windows. One of the best-known features of Crocker Row is a 300-pound metal dog named Rover that stands guard at 2010 Garden Street. Another great architect of this design style was Francis W. Wilson.  Wilson’s Southern Pacific Railroad Depot (1905), now the Amtrak station, is one of Santa Barbara’s few remaining structures in this style, located next to the historic Moreton Bay Fig Tree the nation’s largest on Chapala Street.Santa Barbara Mission

  Many of Santa Barbara’s public and private structures were designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style prior to the 1925 earthquake.  Key examples include the Santa Barbara News-Press building, City Hall, El Paseo, Montecito Country Club and the Santa Barbara Cemetery Chapel. Following the earthquake, Spanish Revival became the predominant style of architecture and
the majority of the city’s commercial downtown area is rebuilt with this design in mind. The most important 20th century building in Santa Barbara, second only to the Mission Santa Barbara in overall architectural significance, is the Spanish-Moorish Santa Barbara County Courthouse (1927-29), designed by architect William Moser.
  The ornate edifice is considered one of the most impressive Spanish Colonial Revival designs in the United States. The Roman triumphal arch, its most dramatic feature, provides a view of Santa Barbara foothills and leads to the central courtyard and sunken gardens. Other decorative features include the sandstone entrance, theatrical tiled staircases, ornate sculpture and open loggia corridors. Don’t miss the Mural Room on the second floor which houses a stunning life size mural of the history of Santa Barbara by Dan Sayre Grosbeck, scenic designer for Cecil B. De Mille, and the 85 ft. clock tower with panoramic views of the city.

Santa Barbara Courthouse top deck tower view

Santa Barbara Courthouse & Santa Barbara Presidio

Another testimony to Revival design and one that exudes the spirit and charm of an old world plaza is the famed El Paseo (1922-24), originally designed by architects James Osborne Craig and then Mary Craig.  Visitors will delight in this charming complex where they can relax in the famed “Street in Spain” courtyard and quaint passageways, all of which partially encompass the historic De La Guerra Adobe.  El Paseo became the first major step taken in converting Santa Barbara’s architecture from Anglo Main Street to Hispanic Pueblo.
  Other classic examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture can be seen in the design of two landmarks by architect Reginald Johnson. One is the United States Post Office (1936-37), which looks more like a palace than a government building, with decorative motifs derived from the popular Moderne style. The other, which typifies the acme of Santa Barbara’s gracious living, is the aristocratic Four Seasons Biltmore Resort. Credited as being one of the most distinctive buildings in Santa Barbara, the Arlington Center for the Performing Arts (1930-31) is clearly a great monument of S
panish Colonial Revival architecture. One forerunner of this style was architect James Pluckett who, in the late 1920s, was commissioned to design a grand-style theater. The Arlington’s ornate detailing includes a magnificent spire towering above the city, a gracefully arched loggia, a mock Spanish village sketched along the interior walls and an elliptically vaulted “star-studded” ceiling that creates an illusory night sky.
  No other Santa Barbara architect worked in the Spanish Colonial style more than architect George Washington Smith.  Even today, his name is synonymous with this architectural style, making the city one of the most beautiful and unique in the country.  Smith was primarily known for his residential designs, but also designed the oldest continuously operating theater in California:  The Lobero Theatre (1924) on Canon Perdido Street.  Along with architect Lutah Riggs, the duo created a graceful three-tiered cultural design using bricks from the original opera house for the adobe walls featuring a 70-foot high stagehouse.  Smith is also credited with designing the Andalusian style Casa del Herrero (1925), an 11-acre estate in Montecito.  This home has been preserved as a living museum for the display of architecture, decorative arts and an elaborate Moorish garden.  Its treasures include colorful Mediterranean tile, Spanish doors and window shutters, corbels and a ceiling from a 15th century convent.  A vast array of tools and silversmithing devices can be seen in the 1,000-square foot workshop adjacent to the home.  Reservations required.
  Another outstanding Santa Barbara landmark is Casa Dorinda (1919). In 1916, Henry W.H. Bliss and wife Anna Dorinda Blaksley purchased 48 acres for their future residence and commissioned architect Carlton Winslow to design a Spanish Colonial style home, and one of the largest mansions in Montecito was born. Today, it is a retirement community; private tours are available. 

  Santa Barbara is long known for its creative mix of bed and breakfast properties 15 in all that run the gamut from vintage Italianate to California Craftsman. Victorian architecture was also a popular style throughout the 19th century in Santa Barbara.  Great stops include the The Cheshire Cat Inn, which boasts two 1894 Victorian structures, the Simpson House Inn (1874), which sports an Italianate Victorian design and the Italianate The Upham Hotel (1871-71), built for banker Amasa Lyman Lincoln.  The stately two-story property is a clapboard structure with a horizontal roofline and design elements reminiscent of New England, including carved cornice pieces, brackets and cupolas.
  Though Santa Barbara is a blend of many architectural styles, visitors and residents alike identify it with the cool broad patios, thick adobe walls and trademark fiery tiled roofs and floors. These attributes distinguish Santa Barbara as one of America’s great architectural cities.

 Located at the north end of the harbor, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum shares space with upscale restaurants, gift store and nearby slips for boat rentals, sailing and cruises to Channel Islands. Downtown Santa Barbara is within walking distance to many shops, hotels and restaurants. Stearns Wharf a major Santa Barbara landmark, is located at the foot of State St. Built in 1872 it is the oldest operating wharf on the West Coast. Today it is the site for the Sea Center Museum, fishing pier, gift shops, seafood market, and several restaurants.

Ride the Train to Santa Barbara in 2014 and Save 20%
Take a Vacation from a Car 

De-stress, unplug and relax aboard Amtrak® to Santa Barbara this year. The Santa Barbara Car Free Project today announced that when registering at, visitors can receive 20 percent savings on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner ®and San Joaquin® (and linked buses) to/from all nine Amtrak stations in Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc, Surf, Guadalupe & Santa Maria) valid for travel through December 16, 2014. (Three-day advance purchase required; blackout dates and restrictions apply, see Car Free website for details and to make reservations).
Mary Byrd, Manager of the award-winning project at the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District remarked “Take a vacation from your car and discover what you can see car free. Instead of sitting in your vehicle staring at the road ahead of you, you’ll be on the train, looking out the window at surf, sky and mountains; your vacation has already begun. Then when you arrive at the train station in Santa Barbara, you are just two blocks from the beach, in the heart of the city surrounded by hotels, wine tasting rooms, restaurants, art galleries and unlimited possibilities to relax and renew.”
Taking the train to enjoy Santa Barbara’s major festivals is a special treat—since activities and attractions are all within easy walking distance of the train station. Discover Santa Barbara Car Free while attending the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (January 30-February 9 and don’t miss the accompanying Film Feast to enjoy lodging and dining savings.
Santa Barbara Car Free is an award-winning project founded and led by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District with more than 100 community partners who want to help you make the most of your special car free experiences. Find resources and car free discovery stories at

First, check the link for the “Cool Car Free Discounts”: Then select lodging and options -from ocean-front or in-town to luxury to bed & breakfasts inns. Byrd recommended, “Design your own package and get inspiration from these sample theme ideas.”

Santa Barbara Car Free Vacation “Active Green”—Save on a Segway of Santa Barbara tour; rent bikes or a surrey cycle from Wheel Fun; take a kayak tour from Adventure Company or rent mountain or road cycles from Bikes-to-Go or take a wine country guided ride with I Bike Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Car Free Vacation “Tasty Green” — Take a Pedicab Tour of the Urban Wine Trail tasting rooms near the beach—or head into the Santa Ynez Valley Wine country via van, jeep, or limo for a guided tour with discounts from Captain Jack’s, Cloud Climbers Jeeps, DeeTours, Grapeline Wine Tours, Stagecoach Company, Sustainable Vine Wine Tours or Wine Edventures. Savor tasty discounts at Aldo’s, Blue Agave or Louie’s restaurants. On Saturday mornings, stop at the Farmers Market and pick some really fresh greens and more.

Santa Barbara Car Free Vacation “Nature’s Green” — Take the MTD Line 22 bus to the Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Museum of Natural History, Botanic Garden and Casa Dolores. Take the 50-cent electric shuttle to the Santa Barbara Zoo, Ty Warner Sea Center, and the Maritime Museum. Hop between the Marina and Stearns Wharf aboard “Lil Toot” water taxi. Really go car free on the water with Celebration Cruises, Condor Express (whale watching), Santa Barbara Sailing Center or Sunset Kidd Sailing Cruises.
MORE . . .

For complete information on the 2014 Santa Barbara Green Vacation Package and “Cool Car Free Discounts” offer and hundreds of car free options including a free, colorful map; call 805-696-1100 or visit

Eco Tours & Locavore Shopping

Hop on the Waterfront-Downtown Electric Shuttle (look for the sailboat logo) for a self-led eco-friendly tour of the city. The fare is 25 cents one way and the shuttle runs every 8-10 minutes up and down State Street between the Arlington Center for the Performing Arts and Stearns Wharf. The shuttle runs every 13-30 minutes along the waterfront between the zoo and the harbor. Line 22 offers weekend service to local attractions including the Botanic Garden, Museum of Art, the Santa Barbara Mission, County Courthouse and Museum of Natural History. Suggested stops and activities on the way: Cruise the oceanfront, palm-lined bike path along Cabrillo Blvd. from the harbor all the way to East Beach on a bike, skateboard, Segway, surrey or your own two feet.

Watch or play beach volleyball at East Beach and grab a bite to eat at the East Beach Grill—breakfast and burgers are their specialties. Continue on to the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and walk the nature trail on the north side to see wintering ducks, herons, egrets, and sparrows. Check the observation platforms for denizens of the reeds, including rails and marsh wrens.  A walk out onto Stearns Wharf is a Santa Barbara must. Soak up the views, snap some pictures and be sure to stop by the Ty Warner Sea Center for a hands-on exploration of the Santa Barbara Channel.

Sample fresh local catch at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. Down the road at the harbor, follow the signs for a self-guided Fish Walk, which will teach you about sustainable fishing and tactics that have been traced back to the Chumash Indians. Delve deeper into local maritime industry at the Maritime Museum. Check out the boats, rent a kayak or hop—for a sunset or whale watching cruise. See more exotic wildlife at our “Zoo with a View,” the Santa Barbara Zoo, is home to more than 500 animals. Come and observe how the zoo participates in many conservation projects, including the California Condor Recovery Program.
Eco‐Friendly Santa Barbara 
Head to the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara—State Street. You could spend all day here exploring the galleries and museums, shops, cafes, spas and historic and architectural landmarks.  Get a taste of local color and meet the local growers at the Farmers' Market Tuesday afternoons and evenings (500 and 600 blocks of State St.) or Saturday mornings from 8:30am- 12:30pm (Santa Barbara St. at Cota St.).

Art, Architecture & Design Tour 
Head towards the hills for stops at landmark attractions—Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Santa Barbara's signature Spanish-Colonial architectural style may be world renowned, but in recent years Santa Barbara has established a reputation as a leader in the green building movement. Learn about green building and design practices or check out nature-inspired artworks. You can also make your own “green” art out of recycled materials and explore outdoor art in public spaces. Take a tour of Santa Barbara County's public art.
View environmental art exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Dan Merkel Gallery, and Brooks Institute of Photography's Cota Street Gallery. Check the Community Environmental Council's website for information on current photography exhibitions.
Make your own creation from recycled materials at Art from Scrap and check out their latest art exhibition. Visit Living Green Gallery, a showroom for artistic design and innovative sustainable products. Shop their substantial selection of “green” building materials, cleaning products, home furnishings and more.  
Central Coast Tourism Council 

Food and wine fans and aspiring bon vivants, this one's for you! Learn how to eat like a “locavore” while tasting your way through our bountiful region. Visit one of the countyʼs seven daily Farmersʼ Markets for a quintessential Santa Barbara experience.

Sample fresh organic fruit, meet the growers, rub elbows with locals and chefs, listen to live music and buy Santa Barbara lavender, oils, olives and honey to take home with you. Guided tours available by appointment via Market Forays.

Go on a Fish Walk at the harbor to learn about our sustainable fishing industry and regional specialties. Don't miss the Fishermanʼs Market, where you can buy fresh catch right off the boat, bright and early every Saturday morning, or pop your head into the Fish Market (open daily) to pick up fresh catch to grill at Leadbetter Beach.  
Visit Southern Californiaʼs oldest organic farm, Fairview Gardens Farm, an agricultural easement in Goleta. Take an educational tour, buy some produce or participate in a cooking class.
Published by…

Tour & Travel Media
Vista, CA 92085
Contact Us

All Rights Reserved ©1999-2015 California Tour & Travel