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 Trapeze Co.

Santa Barbara Trapeze Company is Southern California’s premier flying trapeze school, but it’s not just a circus school - it’s a space where you come and find out who you are, and what you are made of; you will leave feeling…


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…


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 fully operational Courthouse is an…


Opera Santa Barbara

Founded in 1994 by Marilyn Gilbert and Nathan Rundlett, Opera Santa Barbara is committed to presenting productions and educational programs of the highest quality. Over more than two decades the company has staged some 50 operas and devoted…


Riviera Beach House

The 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…


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…


El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park

Explore an 18th-century historic symbol of Santa Barbara—and the many cultures that intersected here—at the site of the last Spanish fortress in California. Operated by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) for…


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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