Historic Landmarks

You don’t have to go far to find obvious treasures from Santa Barbara’s past. A walking tour of El Pueblo Viejo district — the designated historic downtown area — reveals many examples of the red-tile roofs, decorative ironwork, and whitewashed walls that are a link to the city’s heritage. But there are also other notable, not-to-be-missed sights that will provide memorable moments for visitors.

The fantastic Spanish-Moorish-style Santa Barbara County Courthouse, for example, delights the eye with exuberant displays of brilliantly colored tiles and cinematic murals in some of its historic rooms. Above it all the clock tower observation deck offers a spectacular panorama of the city, the mountains, and the harbor. Visible from the tower are a host of other Santa Barbara landmarks as well.

Close at hand, for example, is the spire of one of several historic theaters that are still performing arts venues. The architecture and interiors of these theaters provide interesting backdrops for the music, plays and dance presented there.

Toward the hills are two pink-tinted towers of the centuries-Old Mission Santa Barbara, hailed as the “Queen of the Missions” for its iconic beauty. It was founded by Franciscan fathers in 1786 as a church and community for the conversion of the native Chumash. Don’t forget to stop by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for a lesson on the Santa Barbara region’s unique and diverse natural history.

Stretching to the ocean is State Street, which ends at the wharf — with its own contingent of shops and restaurants — that recalls the days before easy land access, when visitors and goods arrived by boat and docked there. Along the way is the Presidio Neighborhood, named for the fort that became the heart of European settlement here.

In fact, all throughout downtown, historic buildings tell the story of the people and events that shaped today’s Santa Barbara and make it such a welcoming stop on so many itineraries.

Historic Landmarks in Santa Barbara


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…


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…


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…


Hotel Virginia Santa Barbara, Tapestry Collection by Hilton

Imbued with the history of the century-old Hotel Virginia, the Hotel Virginia Santa Barbara, Tapestry Collection by Hilton stands as a symbol of the city’s rich heritage and legacy of enduring hospitality. They offer the quality, convenience,…


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 Historical Museum

Take a fascinating journey from the past to the present at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Located on lovely grounds in the heart of downtown’s El Pueblo Viejo District, the Museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the city…


Simpson House Inn

Nestled within an acre of lush English gardens is Simpson House Inn, a Santa Barbara historic landmark featuring 15 guest rooms, suites and cottages. A short walk from the bustling downtown and State Street shopping, the Simpson House Inn is…


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