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, including:

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

Santa Barbara Zoo

Explore the wonders of the natural world at the Santa Barbara Zoo, where the beauty of the wildlife is matched only by the lush grounds and sweeping views. Located just two miles from State Street, this 30-acre park is home to more than 146…


Flamenco Arts Festival

FLAMENCO ON FILM Based in Santa Barbara, the Flamenco Arts Festival (FAF) is an international cultural arts organization devoted exclusively to the art form of flamenco. Since 1999, the FAF has produced its live in-person event in the fall,…


Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure – Santa Barbara

Turn Santa Barbara into a giant game board with this fun scavenger hunt adventure.  Combine the excitement of the Amazing Race with a three-hour city tour.  Guided from any smart phone, teams make their way among well known and…


Santa Barbara Harbor

With unbeatable views, delicious dining and dozens of exciting activities, the Santa Barbara Harbor is the perfect place to spend the day by—or, better yet, on—the water. Located along the bustling Santa Barbara Waterfront, this…




Riviera Beach House

Riviera Beach House blends historic splendor with sophisticated design and offers artful lodging for style-minded clientele. As Santa Barbara’s closest hotel to the Amtrak train station, MOXI, and the Funk Zone, with public bus and trolley…


Additional Experiences


How SB Got Its Spanish Vibe
From red-tile clay roofs to street names, Santa Barbara is infused with the spirit of Spain.
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Festivals To Plan For
Mark your calendar. In Santa Barbara there’s something to celebrate all year long.
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3 Quintessential Days in SB
It’s easy to see the allure of Santa Barbara. Sample its charms with this 3-day itinerary.
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sb. Snapshots: A Visual Exploration of Santa Barbara