Santa Barbara is famous for its rich history and culture, and in order to appreciate everything that the American Riviera offers, you must explore it all! Originally settled and built by Spanish, Mexican, and North American pioneers, Santa Barbara maintains much of its original Spanish influence to this day.
Below you will find a comprehensive guide to some of the most beautiful and historic landmarks in Santa Barbara. Afterward, enhance your trip by exploring the city’s best restaurants, music, and artwork. Download our free Santa Barbara Vacation Guide to cut your planning time in half and discover the best of what the American Riviera offers.
10 Historic Landmarks to Visit in Santa Barbara
1. Casa del Herrero
Casa del Herrero, also known as “House of the Blacksmith”, is one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States. This breathtaking, 11-acre Montecito estate was built in the 1920s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With so much to see and learn at Casa del Herrero, we recommend booking an estate tour. During your tour, you will explore the history of the casa, art objects, the workshop, and gardens. Tours are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. throughout the year. This amazing estate is only a 15-minute drive away from the Cheshire Cat Inn!
2. The Courthouse
You could easily spend an entire day at The Courthouse and still have plenty to do! This magnificent historic landmark is known as one of the grandest Spanish Colonial Revival structures ever built. It occupies an entire city block in downtown Santa Barbara.
Climb to the top of the clock tower for a panoramic view of Santa Barbara and beyond! Get a visual history lesson from the elaborate hand-painted murals! And don’t forget to take your time to admire the breathtaking sunken gardens! Located just a half mile away from the Cheshire Cat Inn, the Courthouse is only a short walk away.
3. Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens
When the El Mirasol Hotel was demolished in the 1960s, the remaining land was purchased and donated to the city of Santa Barbara. Today, that land is known as Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. This one-of-a-kind garden encompasses over 7.5-acres and showcases over 75 different species of trees and plants.
Here, you will find everything from a sensory garden equipped with interpretive Braille signs, a pond filled with turtles sunbathing on large lily leaves, and Gazebo structures which offer relief from the sun. Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens is a free attraction in the heart of downtown, only 5 minutes away from Cheshire Cat Inn.
4. The Mission Santa Barbara
Old Mission is a chief cultural landmark in Santa Barbara. Founded in 1786 by the Spanish Franciscans, Old Mission reflects the Mexican, Spanish, English, Asian, Chumash, and other influences that have played an important role in the Mission’s history.
Once you step foot onto the grounds of Old Mission Santa Barbara, you will be greeted by stunning sculptures and ancient artifacts. In order to appreciate everything that this historic landmark offers, a tour is a must! Self-guided tours and docent-led tours are both available; they are offered every Tuesday through Friday at 11:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. (excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas).
5. Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Chumash Painted Cave is nestled in the hills of Santa Barbara. This darkened cave is one of the most well-preserved rock art sites in California. Although it is one of the smallest state parks, it provides an outstanding opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful artifacts of the Chumash people.
Although the meaning of the artwork has been lost, students and staff of Chumash Painted Cave are able to offer some speculation into the stories behind the circular figures and anthropomorphic figures. Further information about visiting Chumash Painted Cave can be obtained by contacting La Purisima Mission State Historic Park.
More Places to Explore Santa Barbara’s History
- Stearns Wharf
- Santa Barbara Presidio
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
- The Arlington Theatre
- Granada Theatre
Where to Stay
Nested in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, the Cheshire Cat Inn is in the middle of all of the best things to do and see in the American Riviera. Whether you are planning a family vacation, a romantic retreat, or a weekend getaway, you will find everything you need to relax, unwind, and have a great time at our charming bed and breakfast. All of our guests enjoy countless special amenities including complimentary breakfast and a social hour, both of which showcase Santa Barbara’s outstanding local talent.
You can look forward to greeting the day with a fresh cup of coffee from Santa Barbara Roasting Company and winding down the evening with a complimentary glass of wine from Santa Barbara Winery. Bedtime treats of homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies are baked fresh daily and are available in the evenings as well! If you are ready to plan your next vacation, check our availability and book your stay today. We can’t wait to hear about your adventures exploring our city’s beautiful history!
These ten historic landmarks are just the beginning of what you’ll find in the American Riviera! Read our blog on Old Spanish Days to delve deeper into our city’s rich history and culture.