Are you planning a trip to Santa Barbara, California, and want to explore its rich history? In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best historical sites and museums that Santa Barbara has to offer. Different historical and museum sites in Santa Barbara, where they are located, and why they are worth going to.
Many visitors to Southern California may experience a feeling of déjÃvu as they travel from one over-hyped destination to another. The West Coast doesn’t have the sense of history and sweep of the past that exists on the East Coast and in Europe. One destination that is an obvious exception to this is beautiful Santa Barbara, located sixty miles north of Los Angeles up Highway 101.
Santa Barbara is the site of many wonderful historical sites and museums and has a charm and grace to it that may call Italy or Greece to mind, with its sun-bathed hills and sea-kissed shores. For the visitor to Santa Barbara interested in cultural institutions, there are a plethora of choices on how to spend one’s day.
Santa Barbara Historical Museum
First on our list is the Santa Barbara Historical Museum, which houses exhibits and artifacts that document the history of Santa Barbara and the Central Coast. From the Chumash Native Americans to the Spanish missionaries to the American settlers, the museum offers a comprehensive look at the city’s past.
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Next up is the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, which celebrates the region’s maritime heritage. The museum features exhibits on the history of the Channel Islands, the local fishing industry, and the role of the Navy in the area. Visitors can also explore the museum’s collection of historic ships and boats.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located off the Mission Street exit on the 101 Freeway. It contains over 75,000 archaeological specimens. The museum boasts the foremost collection of Chumash basketry in the world. The Chumash were a California Indian tribe native to the Santa Barbara area. The museum also has a large invertebrate zoology section, including over 2 million specimens of Mollusca.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art off the State Street exit of Highway 101 was founded in 1941. It bills itself as one of the outstanding regional museums in the nation. Collections contained in the museum include 19th-century European, British, and American art. There are also large collections of Asian art and classical antiquities. The museum also caters to children with an interactive gallery.
El Camino Real
For lovers of history, Santa Barbara is a stopping point on the legendary El Camino Real, the road the Spanish padres took when they established their missions in California. Mission Santa Barbara, the tenth mission founded by the Franciscan fathers, has been called “˜the queen of the missions’ for its rose-tinted beauty, an elaborate garden, and twin spires. The mission’s architecture incorporated Moorish influences when built. Masses are still held daily. Many monks and the Indians who made the mission a working farm were buried there.
For a glimpse into the city’s Spanish colonial past, be sure to visit the Santa Barbara Mission. Founded in 1786, the mission is one of the city’s oldest and most iconic landmarks. Visitors can tour the mission’s church, gardens, and museum, which showcases artifacts from the mission’s history.
El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historical Park is located in downtown Santa Barbara at the intersection of Santa Barbara and East Canon Perdido. The Presidio, or fort, was established in 1782, four years before the building of Mission Santa Barbara. The idea behind the building of the Presidios was to protect the settlers from Indian attacks and serve as a central gathering place for administrative and governmental affairs. The most prominent structure in the Presidio is its chapel. The Presidio’s central location enables tourists to enjoy shopping and dining. And the wonderful ambiance of downtown Santa Barbara.
Casa de La Guerra
Another link to history in Santa Barbara is the Casa de La Guerra on East de La Guerra Street. The beautiful Spanish-style home was built between 1819 and 1827 and, ever since has been a witness to Santa Barbara’s rich history. The home was built by one of the Presidio’s commandants. The Guerra family has continued to influence Santa Barbara events, producing state senators, local judges, and a lieutenant governor. The Casa de La Guerra was particularly affluent when built, as most other adobe homes had one or two rooms, and the Casa had over a dozen. After a devastating earthquake in 1925, the still-standing Casa de La Guerra served as a model for Santa Barbara’s rebuilding.
Reagan Ranch Center
Last but not least is the Reagan Ranch Center, which offers a unique perspective on the life and legacy of President Ronald Reagan. Located in downtown Santa Barbara, the center features exhibits, videos, and artifacts that document Reagan’s time in office and his views on limited government, free enterprise, and strong national defense.
Santa Barbara contains a varied and rich cultural history for tourists and a welcome change from Southern California’s often boring homogeneity. The traveler to Santa Barbara is presented with great natural beauty, architectural grace, and many choices for entertainment and enrichment.
If you’re looking to explore the rich history of Santa Barbara, these museums and historical sites are a great place to start. And if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to these and other Santa Barbara attractions, look no further than our website. With detailed information and resources for planning your visit, we’re your ultimate guide to Santa Barbara’s fascinating past.