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Santa Barbara has a long and interesting history. Father Junipero Serra, one of the original Jesuit priests who established El Camino Real with a series of missions along the California Coast, founded Santa Barbara in 1782.

The town remained in Spanish hands until Mexico ceded California in 1848 but it was only after the 1925 earthquake that Santa Barbara developed from a quiet agricultural community to a thriving modern city.

The town's principal attraction is the beautiful Santa Barbara Mission which has been a working church since 1794.

Also worth visiting is El Presidio de Santa Barbara Historic Park, home of one of the original Spanish fortresses built along the coast. The city's Botanic Garden makes a wonderful place to stroll between the lush flowers, while the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, located right on the waterfront, allows you to tour the tall ships anchored in the harbour.

The heart of the town also features a great variety of shops, many of which are tucked away amongst outdoor paseos and landscaped plazas.

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Audley Country Specialist Jackie

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Santa Barbara by contacting one of our California specialists

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Santa Barbara, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Santa Barbara

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Santa Barbara

    Accommodation choices for Santa Barbara

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Santa Barbara. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Cheshire Cat Facade

      Cheshire Cat Inn

      Medium

      A convenient retreat just blocks from central Santa Barbara, the Cheshire Cat Inn offers personal service, romantic surroundings and elegant rooms in a series of period properties. Indulgent breakfasts and great attention to detail ensure a memorable stay.

    • Harbor View Inn

      Harbor View Inn

      First Class

      Easy access to the beach, a heated outdoor pool and spacious rooms make the Harbor View Inn a good option in Santa Barbara. Most local attractions can be reached on foot and the service is friendly yet professional

    • Belmond El Encanto

      Belmond El Encanto

      Deluxe

      A historic property set in generous grounds filled with exotic plants, the Belmond El Encanto offers 1920s period glamour alongside classically elegant but contemporary styling and excellent service and food.

    • Kimpton Canary Hotel, Santa Barbara

      Kimpton Canary Hotel

      First Class

      The Kimpton Canary Hotel is located a short distance from the main street of Santa Barbara. It is a beautiful property with a rooftop pool and stunning décor, but it’s the service of this hotel that really makes it stand out.

    • Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn, Santa Barbara

      Best Western Plus Pepper Tree Inn

      Medium

      A short drive from downtown Santa Barbara, the Pepper Tree Inn is a relaxed and unassuming place to stay during your visit. Rooms are spacious and balconies and terraces look out over a lovely garden courtyard.

    • Inn by the Harbor, Santa Barbara

      Inn by the Harbor

      Simple

      Offering a restful retreat, this Art Deco-inspired hotel makes an ideal base for visitors to Santa Barbara.