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…


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…


Casa de la Guerra

With its white adobe walls and red-tiled roof, the iconic Casa de la Guerra is the foremost place to learn about Santa Barbara’s Mexican period (1821-1848). This important historic landmark was built between 1818 and 1828 for José de…


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…


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…


Casa del Herrero

Experience Montecito as it was during the 1920s and 1930s on a tour of Casa del Herrero, one of Santa Barbara’s finest architectural landmarks. Built in 1925 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2009, Casa del Herrero is an…


Summer Solstice Celebration

Santa Barbara’s Summer Solstice Celebration is a beloved annual tradition that kicks off the summer season with a dazzling parade and lineup of live performances. This year's festivities will take place on June 21-23, 2024, with a brilliant…


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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