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Santa Barbara is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in California, with lovely Spanish style architecture, an inviting waterfront, and a mountainous backdrop. It also has the great advantage of having many of its points of interest within close proximity to each other, making it an easy city to explore. Check out these amazing places to see in Santa Barbara.

1. Mission Santa Barbara

The “Queen of the Mission Stations”, as Santa Barbara is generally called, was the only one to remain with the Franciscans after being secularized. It is also the only one they preserved to present day. The church, completed in 1829 after the original had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1812, is the work of Father Antonio Ripoli. It is the only mission with two towers, and had to be rebuilt with earthquake-proof construction. Today it serves as a parish church.

2. Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a Spanish-Moorish building in the style of a palace, completed after the earthquake of 1929. The entrance hall on the first floor has a mixture of styles, including Islamic, Romanesque, and Byzantine. For a great view of the city, make sure to take a trip up to the top of the El Mirador bell tower.

3. Santa Barbara Museum of Art

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a well-regarded cultural institution notable for its large collection. The museum is particularly well known for its collection of Claude Monet pieces. The museum is spread out over 60,000 square feet and features a museum store, café, a children’s gallery, and an extensive library.

4. Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens showcase native California plants and trees. Paths wind their way through lush areas, providing a tranquil environment. The gardens have been in existence since the 1930s and consequently offer a selection of mature trees and plants: it is a must when choosing places to see in Santa Barbara. A portion of the garden has been labeled a Santa Barbara County Historical Landmark. Visitors can take a tour or stroll the paths on their own. There is also a shop on site selling books and other items, as well as a nursery where you can buy your own California native plants.

5. Santa Barbara Zoo

Located on over 30 acres, this zoo is notable for its beautiful setting that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains. The zoo has all kinds of animals, reptiles, and insects. The zoo has the feel of a botanical garden as the property is laid out with formal gardens, open spaces, native plants, trees, and cacti. Programs like the Barnyard, where you can feed domesticated sheep, or the Giraffe Feeding station where you can get up, close and personal, with a giraffe, which draws regular visitors and is really fun for children.

Santa Barbara is famous for its amazing weather and unbeatable beaches. But the history of this city is equally beautiful and interesting. Over hundreds of years, the city has been shaped into one of the most vibrant and unique communities in the country. Here are some of the most exciting historical Santa Barbara attractions in the city.

Stearns Wharf

This wharf traces its history back to 1872 when Santa Barbara was a very young and a touch less glamorous city. It was extremely important during the early part of the city’s history because it was huge part of the area’s economy. It served as a place for shipping goods and passengers to and from the city. This is when Santa Barbara was the largest port for shipping on California’s central coast. Today, it serves as a reminder of Santa Barbara’s origins as a maritime city. There is a museum, a couple places to get a bit to eat, and a few other fun attractions.

The Mission

With a visit to the mission in Santa Barbara, you are visiting the start of the entire city. It was founded in 1786 and has gone through many changes since, but it has always been a strong focal point for the people of the city. While some of the buildings have been destroyed or renovated, many of the structures here serve as incredible reminders of the beauty of Spanish Colonial architecture. White Adobe structures with red roofing are the mark of the Mission. If you want to really experience all that the Mission has to offer, you should consider a self-guided or docent-led tour. Each of these provides an unforgettable experience.

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree

This amazing tree in the heart of Santa Barbara is the result of one of the most charming stories of the history of the city. According to the story, in 1876, a seaman visited Santa Barbara and gifted a seedling of Australian fig tree to a local girl who then planted it. After over 100 years, the tree has been moved to an area more central to the city and it now extends almost 200 feet wide with a trunk circumference of 41.5 feet. It is truly an amazing site to behold. Not only is the tree amazing, but it sits in a lovely little park that provides the perfect place to grab some shade and enjoy a picnic in the beautiful Santa Barbara weather.

It is impossible to spend time in Santa Barbara, and to enjoy Santa Barbara attractions, without being immersed in the history of the city. Make sure you make your next vacation to Santa Barbara and enjoy some of the fascinating pieces of history that are sprinkled throughout the city. Contact us today to learn more, or click here to find out more about our property management services!