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



Recommended

Lotusland

Bask in Santa Barbara’s botanical beauty on a visit to Lotusland, a stunning 37-acre Montecito estate once owned by the late Madame Ganna Walska. A well-known opera singer and socialite, she purchased the property in 1941 and spent the next…


Santa Barbara Tasting Tours

Santa Barbara Tasting Tours offers intimate food walking tours in downtown Santa Barbara and gives guests an up close and personal look into the local food scene and the history of the area. As we walk the streets of Santa Barbara, this 3 1/2 hour…


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 Museum of Art

Celebrate 5,000 years of human history and creativity on a visit to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. First opened in 1941, the Museum is located in the heart of downtown in a stately building that was once the Santa Barbara Post Office.…


Granada Theatre

A local landmark for almost a century, The Granada Theatre is the central coast’s premier performing arts venue.  Located in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara, The Granada is home to Santa Barbara Symphony, State Street…


Old Mission Santa Barbara

Travel back in time to Santa Barbara’s earliest days at the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara. With its grand double bell towers, lush gardens and the majestic San Ynez mountains as a backdrop, the Mission is one of the city’s most…


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