santa barbara harbor
santa barbara rooftops
santa barbara beach

About Santa Barbara

The History of Santa Barbara

The history of Santa Barbara runs deep, through many cultures, across the Santa Barbara Channel, and throughout the city as it stands today. Culture is around every corner, and as you step into Santa Barbara. From the basketry and boat-building techniques of the Chumash Indians, to the Spanish Colonial influence that can be seen around every corner, and the first days of filmmaking, Santa Barbara’s history is vast and truly unique.

Spanish settlers gave the city its distinct architectural style in the form of Old Mission Santa Barbara and what is now the County Courthouse — a style that was carried forward by local visionaries after a massive earthquake destroyed much of the area’s infrastructure in 1925.

Maritime tradition began long ago and remains prominent in Santa Barbara. The famed Stearns Wharf is the oldest working wharf in California, built in 1872 by John Peck Stearns. Today, visitors enjoy walking Stearns Wharf, which is where one can find a variety of shops, restaurants, and local businesses.

Santa Barbara continued to make notable history into modern times when it established the world’s very first official Earth Day celebration in 1969. The annual Earth Day Festival still takes place in Alameda Park every April. Santa Barbara marks its history throughout the year with a series of festivals and events. Relive the festive Latin heritage during Old Spanish Fiesta Days. Celebrate the city’s 300+ days of annual sunshine during Summer Solstice. Watch as stars still walk the red carpet into the city’s many beautiful theaters during the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Santa Barbara’s Attractions

Santa Barbara's beautiful natural surroundings and ideal climate offer a variety of recreational activities throughout the year, such as picnicking, swimming and sailing, walking on the beach, hiking through wooded canyon trails, bicycling on city bike paths, and nearby overnight camping. City parks, the public library, and the business district are within walking distance of the facilities. Other nearby attractions include the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.