You couldn’t ask for a more inspiring setting. Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Santa Barbara has always beckoned to those with creative spirit — artists and writers, celebrities, philosophers, anyone with a passion for the arts, culture, and the good life.
Thanks to them, and to the many waves of settlers here on The American Riviera®, there’s a rich legacy of cultural institutions and activities that enhance the lives of residents and visitors young and old, enough to keep one busy for a few days or a lifetime.
Santa Barbara and its surrounding areas are full of impressive landmarks that speak to the history of the region, dating back to the Chumash (Native American) tribes who settled in villages here and lived off the bounty of the land and the sea. The Spanish left their mark in architecture that evokes their religion and their homes, while the penchant of “Califorñios” for hospitality, horsemanship, music and dance all linger in Santa Barbara’s festive traditions. (Califorñios were 19th century families given land grants by Spain on which they built ranches and orchards.) Later, those who flocked here brought their passions for horticulture, art, education, and philanthropy, which have shaped the cultural riches we all enjoy. Through their efforts we have an abundance of museums and galleries, gardens and theaters, places to hear music and to appreciate nature.
However, none of this is frozen in the past. The creative spirit lives on, encouraged by today’s renowned college and university programs and nurtured by the keenly appreciative residents who relish the role of arts and culture in their lives.
“The Audrey Hepburn of Zoos – petite, charming and beautiful." (The Food Network) Even the lions and the giraffes have sweeping ocean views at this charming sea-side park. The beauty of the animals is matched only by the lush gardens.…
Visit the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Find out how we became America’s Riviera! Celebrate the history of our community from the Chumash to the modern day with vibrant exhibitions and compelling programs, conveniently located in the…
With its Spanish tiles, sunken garden, and observation tower, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is considered by many to be the country's most beautiful government building. Photo Credit: Gabriela Herman
Located just beyond the Old Mission, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History offers visitors of all ages a chance to discover and reconnect with nature. Photo Credit: Instagram Fan @amazingdaysevents