Santa Barbara

History of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, often referred to as "The American Riviera," is a city rich in history, from its roots in the Chumash tribes to the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the late 18th century.

The city was named Santa Barbara because it was founded on the day of the feast of Saint Barbara, on December 4, 1786. The Spanish influence remains evident in the city's distinctive Mission-style architecture. After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Santa Barbara transitioned to Mexican governance.

With the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848, Santa Barbara eventually became part of the growing United States. Following a significant earthquake in 1925, the city was extensively rebuilt with a uniform Spanish Colonial style, which characterizes much of its charm today.

From the advent of Hollywood in the 20th century to its present-day status as a sought-after travel destination, Santa Barbara has continued to flourish, offering a perfect blend of historical charm, cultural richness, and coastal beauty.

FAQ for Santa Barbara

What is the best way to get there?

Santa Barbara is accessible via the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. It can also be reached by train via Amtrak or by driving on the scenic U.S. Route 101.

What is Santa Barbara famous for?

Santa Barbara is renowned for its Spanish colonial-style architecture, beautiful beaches, the Santa Barbara Mission, and the lively State Street. It's also famous for its wineries and the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

What are five interesting facts about Santa Barbara?

    1. Santa Barbara has a Mediterranean climate, which makes it perfect for growing wine grapes. It's known for its excellent wine.
    2. The city is home to the Santa Barbara Mission, which was established in 1786 and is still in operation today.
    3. Santa Barbara was the filming location for the 1980s TV show "Santa Barbara."
    4. The city was rebuilt in Spanish Colonial style after an earthquake in 1925.
    5. It is home to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).

How did Santa Barbara get its name?

Santa Barbara was named by Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno to honor the saint whose feast day falls on the day he arrived in the area, December 4, 1602.

What are some travel tips for Santa Barbara?

Consider renting a bike to explore the city, especially the waterfront. Visit during the off-season for less crowded attractions. Do try the local wines and make sure to take a stroll along State Street for shopping and dining.

Do I need a visa?

Whether you need a visa or not depends on your country of origin. Please check the US Department of State's website for detailed information.

When is the best time to visit Santa Barbara?

The best time to visit Santa Barbara is from March to May or from September to November when temperatures are milder.

Are there local customs I should know for Santa Barbara?


The legal drinking age is 21, and it's customary to show ID when purchasing alcohol.


Handshakes or casual greetings such as 'Hi' are common.

Public transit

Public transit and shuttles are available, but do check the schedules as service may be limited late at night.

What is the time zone for Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara operates on Pacific Standard Time (PST).

What are the voltage/plug types?

The voltage is 120V and the plug types are type A and B.

What is the currency?

The official currency is the US Dollar (USD).

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes, ATMs are readily accessible throughout Santa Barbara.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes, most places in Santa Barbara accept credit cards.

Can you use ApplePay and Google Pay?

Yes, many places in Santa Barbara accept ApplePay and Google Pay.

How much do I tip in Santa Barbara?


It's customary to tip for good service in Santa Barbara.


In restaurants and bars, the usual tip is 15-20% of the total bill.


You should tip hotel staff around $1-$5, depending on the service.


For taxis, a tip of 10-15% is customary.

Tour guides

For tour guides, a tip of $5-$10 per day per person is appreciated.

About Santa Barbara

Founded Population (2023 estimate) Elevation
1786 87,533 (source) 6 m


Season/Months High (°C / °F) Low (°C / °F)
Spring (March - May) 20 / 68 10 / 50
Summer (June - August) 24 / 75 15 / 59
Autumn (September - November) 22 / 72 12 / 54
Winter (December - February) 18 / 64 8 / 46
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