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.
Suggested itineraries featuring Santa Barbara
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
- Pismo Beach 74 miles away
- Los Angeles 88 miles away
- Sequoia National Park 157 miles away
- Big Sur 175 miles away
- Palm Springs 187 miles away
- Kings Canyon National Park 188 miles away
- San Diego 189 miles away
- Carmel 194 miles away
- Monterey 195 miles away
- Death Valley National Park 207 miles away
- Yosemite National Park 238 miles away
- San Francisco 278 miles away
- Las Vegas 282 miles away
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.