view of Santa Barbara's skyline showing local architecture with ocean off in the distance

Everything You Need to Know About Santa Barbara Architecture

If you are planning a visit to Santa Barbara, you are in for a very special treat! With its red tile roofs and stucco buildings, the city is one of the most beautiful destinations in California. It’s also one of the only places where you can find examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States. From Mediterranean influences to English Vernacular styles, there is culture around every corner of this charming city. Find out the inspiration behind Santa Barbara’s architecture and come see it for yourself!

Santa Barbara Architecture: History and Inspiration

Santa Barbara’s history dates back centuries, but 1925 was a defining moment in time for the city. During this era, the Spanish Colonial Revival was gaining popularity and was aimed at protecting the city’s historic buildings and Spanish origins. There were many talented designers, architects, and civic leaders who helped further the movement. One of the most famous was George Washington Smith, who designed over 80 structures in Santa Barbara. Some of his works include the Lobero Theatre, the Daily News Building, and Meridian Studios. Because of the Spanish Colonial Revival, Santa Barbara was the first city in the country to form an architectural review board. Today, it’s a world-famous destination!

Although the city has deep Spanish roots, Santa Barbara is a melting pot of diversity. Stroll down one of the historic streets and you’ll feel like you have stepped back in time! From hand-made tiles to wrought iron details, you can see the Spanish and Mediterranean influences throughout the city. Even some of the original clay adobes are still standing today. If you visit one of the surrounding neighborhoods, you will find Victorian styles, exotic revivals, and Craftsman Cottages.

Santa Barbara Architecture Tours

Put on your walking shoes and don’t forget your camera! One of the best ways to tour our beautiful city is on foot. See the historic buildings and learn the stories behind them when you take a two-hour guided tour with the Architectural Foundation, available every Saturday and Sunday. Another great tour option is Old Mission Santa Barbara. Founded in 1786, this architectural treasure is a must-see! You can explore the church and nine-room museum every day of the week.

If you want to see it all in one day, we recommend taking a Trolley Tour. This is a perfect introduction to Santa Barbara, and daily tours run between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Just one fare takes you to many special spots throughout the city, including Stearns Wharf, East Beach, the Museum of Natural History, and more.

Stay at Cheshire Cat Inn

Four blocks from the heart of downtown, our inn is a stunning example of architecture itself! At Cheshire Cat Inn, you’ll experience the very best of Santa Barbara. After you tour the city, it’s only fitting that you stay in one of our Victorian Queen Anne houses or Craftsman cottages. Each of our accommodations offers luxurious amenities, top-notch service, and beautiful views. You can enjoy a delicious homemade breakfast in the morning, then come back for wine and hors-d’oeuvres each afternoon. So what are you waiting for? Check our availability and make your reservations today!


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Cheshire Cat Inn & Cottages

36 West Valerio Street
Santa Barbara, California
93101 United States
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