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…


Old Mission Santa Barbara

Walk the halls of history at one of Santa Barbara’s most iconic sites, Old Mission Santa Barbara. With its grand bell towers, lush gardens and views of the San Ynez mountains and Pacific Ocean, the Mission is one of the city’s most…


Santa Barbara Symphony

The Santa Barbara Symphony delivers artistic excellence, outstanding music education stewardship and programming, and community collaboration - all through symphonic music. Under the artistic leadership of Maestro Nir Kabaretti as Music &…


Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery

Established in 1984, Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery is one of the largest and most important galleries between Los Angeles and San Francisco. We organize nationally important exhibitions in our expansive downtown gallery. With…


UCSB Arts & Lectures

Founded in 1959, UCSB Arts & Lectures is the largest and most influential arts and lectures organization between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This nationally recognized, award-winning program brings exceptional cultural and artistic…


Ensemble Theatre Company at the New Vic

Experience the vibrant world of live theater with the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara (ETC). ETC is Santa Barbara's premier professional Equity theater company, and its rich history is a testament to its commitment to the arts. Founded in…


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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