Arts and Culture

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.

Arts & Culture in Santa Barbara



Santa Barbara County Courthouse

For a firsthand look at one of the country’s most beautiful public buildings, look no further than the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Designed in the Spanish-Colonial style and completed in 1929, the still-functioning Courthouse is an…


Santa Barbara County Arts Commission

Formed in 1977, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission is a 15 member County Commission appointed by the County Board of Supervisors, with three members from each of the five supervisorial districts who make recommendations to the Board on…


Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Take a fascinating journey from the past to the present at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Located on lovely grounds in the heart of downtown’s El Pueblo Viejo District, the Museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the city…


Segway of Santa Barbara

The Best Way to See Santa Barbara! Visit Segway of Santa Barbara to experience the very best of what Santa Barbara has to offer!  Take a Segway tour with one of our experienced guides and choose from three different tours: The Butterfly Beach…


Santa Barbara Bowl

Nestled in the foothills of Santa Barbara, The Santa Barbara Bowl was built in 1936 with WPA funding and served as a community gathering venue for decades. Then came Rock & Roll and live shows and fans. Now the SB Bowl hosts up to 37 popular…


Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

The Santa Barbara Channel is a pillar of the city’s history and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) is the perfect place to learn about it. Located in the picturesque Santa Barbara Harbor, the Maritime Museum provides exhibits and…


Additional Experiences


NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS SIGNATURE EVENT ITINERARY IDEAS

How SB Got Its Spanish Vibe

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NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS SIGNATURE EVENT ITINERARY IDEAS

Festivals To Plan For

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sb. Snapshots: A Visual Exploration of Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara the american riviera
historic landmarks santa barbara courthouse
downtown santa barbara
santa barbara architecture