Santa Barbara Points of Interest
Santa Barbara contains numerous performing art venues, including the 2,000 seat Arlington Theatre, which is the largest indoor performance venue in Santa Barbara and also serves as the premise for the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Other major venues include the Lobero Theatre, a historic building and favorite venue for small concerts; the Granada Theater, the tallest building downtown, originally built by contractor C.B. Urton in 1924, but with the theatre remodeled and reopened in March 2008; and the Santa Barbara Bowl, a 4,562 seat amphitheatre used for outdoor concerts, nestled in a picturesque canyon northwest of Santa Barbara at the base of the Riviera.
The city is considered a haven for classical music lovers with a symphony orchestra, a part-time opera company, and many non-profit classical music groups (such asCAMA). The Music Academy of the West, located in Montecito, hosts an annual music festival in the summer, drawing renowned students and professionals.
Outdoor shops in downtown Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a year-round tourist destination renowned for its fair weather, downtown beaches, and Spanish architecture. Tourism brings more than one billion dollars per year into the local economy, including $80 million in tax revenue. In addition to the city’s cultural assets, several iconic destinations lie within the city’s limits. Mission Santa Barbara, “The Queen of the Missions,” is located on a rise about two miles (3 km) inland from the harbor, and is maintained as an active place of worship, sightseeing stop, and national historic landmark. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a red tiled Spanish-Moorish structure, provides a sweeping view of the downtown area from its open air tower. The Presidio of Santa Barbara, a Spanish military installation and chapel built in 1782, was central to the town’s early development and remains an icon of the city’s colonial roots. In 1855, the Presidio Chapel, being in decay, grew into the Apostolic College of Our Lady of Sorrows, now Our Lady of Sorrows Church. The present church, consecrated on the 147th anniversary of the founding of the presidio on April 21, 1929, remains one of the most beautiful churches in California.
Also famous is the annual Fiesta (originally called “Old Spanish Days”), which is celebrated every year in August. The Fiesta is hosted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West and the Native Sons of the Golden West in a joint committee called the Fiesta Board. Fiesta was originally started as a tourist attraction, like the Rose Bowl, to draw business into the town in the 1920s.
Flower Girls and Las Señoritas are another attraction of Fiesta, as they march and participate in both Fiesta Pequeña (the kickoff of Fiesta) and the various parades. Flower Girls is for girls under 13. They throw roses and other flowers into the crowds. Las Señoritas are their older escorts. Many Señoritas join the Native Daughters at the age of 16.
The annual Santa Barbara French Festival takes place Bastille Day weekend in July. This is the largest French Festival in the western United States.
New Noise Music Conference and Festival, established in 2009, is a 4-day event with the main party in the Funk Zone, a small art and wine tasting section of the city near the beach, and other small bands to local venues around the city. New Noise brings in over 75 bands and 50 speakers to the festival each year.
For over 40 years, the Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show has been held on Cabrillo Blvd., east of Stearns Wharf and along the beach, attracting thousands of people to see artwork made by artists and crafts people that live in Santa Barbara county. By the rules of the show, all the works displayed must have been made by the artists and craftspeople themselves, who must sell their own goods. The show started in the early 1960s, and now has over 200 booths varying in size and style on any Sunday of the year. The show is also held on some Saturdays that are national holidays, but not during inclement weather.
In recent years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, another local non-profit, has also become a major draw bringing over 50,000 attendees during what is usually Santa Barbara’s slow season in late January. SBIFF hosts a wide variety of celebrities, premieres, panels and movies from around the world and runs for 10 days.
The annual Summer Solstice Parade draws up to 100,000 people. It is a colorful themed parade put on by local residents, and follows a route along State Street for approximately one mile, ending at Alameda Park. Its main rule is that no written messages or banners with words are allowed. Floats and costumes vary from the whimsical to the outrageous; parties and street events take place throughout the weekend of the parade, the first weekend after the solstice.
Surfing is as much a part of Santa Barbara culture as art. Bruce Brown‘s cult classic, The Endless Summer, put surfing on the map, and he is often seen around the town. Surfing legend Pat Curren and his son, three time world champion Tom Curren, as well as ten time world champion Kelly Slater, and other popular surf icons such as Jack Johnson call Santa Barbara home. Local surfers are known for going north to The Point, or south to Rincon.
Other tourist-centered attractions include:
- Stearns Wharf – Adjacent to Santa Barbara Harbor, features shops, several restaurants, and the newly rebuilt Ty Warner Sea Center.
- Rafael Gonzalez House – Adobe residence of the alcalde of Santa Barbara in the 1820s, and a National Historic Landmark.
- Santa Barbara’s Moreton Bay Fig Tree – a giant Moreton Bay Fig, 80 feet (24 m) tall, which has one of the largest total shaded areas of any tree in North America
- Burton Mound – on Mason Street at Burton Circle, this mound is thought to be the Chumash village of Syujton, recorded by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542, and again by Fr. Crespí and Portolá in 1769. (California Historical Landmark No. 306)
- De La Guerra Plaza (Casa de la Guerra) – Site of the first City Hall, and still the center of the city’s administration. (California Historical Landmark No. 307) Also the location of the Santa Barbara News Press.
- Covarrubias Adobe – Built in 1817; adjacent to the Santa Barbara Historical Museum on Santa Barbara Street. (California Historical Landmark No. 308)
- Hastings Adobe – Built in 1854, partially from material recovered from the wreck of the S.S. Winfield Scott. (California Historical Landmark No. 559)
- Hill-Carrillo Adobe – Built in 1825 by Daniel A. Hill for his wife Rafaela L. Ortega y Olivera; currently at 11 E. Carrillo St.
- Cold Spring Tavern
- El Paseo Shopping Mall – California’s first shopping center.
- Santa Barbara Zoo
- Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
- Channel Islands National Park
With its abundance of seafood, awareness of farming methods, and nearby wineries, Santa Barbara has many restaurants. In 2010, the SantaBarbara.com Restaurant Guide listed 693 separate restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries in the region.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), located on State Street, features nationally recognized collections and special exhibitions of international importance. Highlights of the Museum’s remarkable permanent collection include antiquities; 19th-century French, British, and American art; 20th-century and contemporary European, North American, and Latin American art; Asian art; photography; and works on paper. It is also recognized for its innovative education program that serves local and surrounding communities through extensive on-site programming and curriculum resources. Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB), located on the top floor of Paseo Nuevo shopping mall, is a non-profit, non-collecting museum dedicated to the exhibition, education, and cultivation of the arts of our time. The premier venue for contemporary art between Los Angeles and San Francisco, MCASB offers free admission to its exhibitions and public programming. Other art venues include theUniversity Art Museum on the University of California at Santa Barbara Campus, various private galleries, and a wide variety of art and photography shows. The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located immediately behind the Santa Barbara Mission in a complex of Mission-style buildings set in a park-like campus. The Museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits and a state-of-the-art planetarium. The Santa Barbara Historical Museum is located on De La Guerra Street and offers free admission. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way (the former Naval Reserve Center Santa Barbara) on the waterfront. The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum (free admission) houses a collection of historical documents and manuscripts. Two open air museums here are Lotusland and Casa del Herrero, exemplifying the American Country Place era in Santa Barbara. Casa Dolores, center for the popular arts of Mexico, is devoted to the collection, preservation, study, and exhibition of an extensive variety of objects of the popular arts of Mexico.