1. Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Located at 1130 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, California. Home to both permanent and special collections, the museum was founded in 1941. The building itself was at one time the Santa Barbara Post Office (1914 – 1932). Chicago architect David Adler created the Museum’s galleries. Today, the Museum’s 60,000 square feet include exhibition galleries, a Museum Store, Café, a 154- seat auditorium, a library containing 50,000 books and 55,000 slides, a Family Resource Center dedicated to participatory interactive programming and an 11,500 square foot off site facility, the Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House. The Museum’s mission is to integrate art into the life of the community. They have over 40 educational programs reaching more than 40,000 people each year.
2. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is the oldest museum in Santa Barbara, California. Located in Mission Canyon, directly behind the Santa Barbara Mission. The campus occupies 12 acres. The museum has 5,700 members and more than 150,000 people visit each year. Albert Einstein visited the museum with his wife in 1931 and remarked, “I can see that this museum has been built by the work of love.”
3. Santa Barbara Historical Museum
The museum is located at 136 East De la Guerra in the heart of historic downtown Santa Barbara, built in 1965 by the Santa Barbara Historical Society. It features relics from Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, Yankee and Chinese cultures, including artifacts, photographs, furnishings and textiles dating as far back as the 15th century.
4. Mission Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Mission was founded by Padre Fermin Lasuen on December 4, 1786, the feast day of Saint Barbara, as the tenth mission for the religious conversion of the indigenous local Chumash-Barbareno tribe of Native American people. Today, the Santa Barbara Mission continues to serve the community as a parish church. It also contains a gift shop, a museum, a Franciscan Friary, and a retreat house. The grounds are a primary tourist attraction in Santa Barbara. The Mission is owned by the Franciscan Province of Santa Barbara, and the local parish rents the church from the Franciscans.
5. Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is located in Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara, containing over 1,000 species of rare and indigenous plants. The garden sits on 78 acres and the purpose is the display California native plants in natural settings. There are about 5.7 miles of hiking trails within the garden. The Garden was founded by landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in 1926. There is a rock dam that was constructed in 1806 by Native Americans under the direction of the Spanish padres of the adjacent Mission Santa Barbara. The Garden became a Santa Barbara County Landmark in 1983. Part of the Botanic Garden was burned in the Jesusita Fire on May 6, 2009. Several buildings were destroyed by the fire and have not yet been replaced. Garden displays have recovered from the fire.
6. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum opened its doors in July 2000, inside the Santa Barbara Waterfront Center (formerly the Naval Reserve Building). There are many different events including lectures, tastings, celebrations, special gatherings, and private meetings and parties. The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum also offers educational programs such as: Marine Science Program – For two weeks, about 400 children from elementary schools and after school programs participate, many of whom have never been out on the ocean or on a boat. Another program is the Tall Ship Program. This program allows students to spend the night aboard a tall ship living the life of an 1830’s sailor. They also offer a Science Night Program and a Book Club.
7. Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum
The Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world’s largest private collection of original manuscripts and documents. David and Marsha Karpeles, California real estate magnates, founded the library in 1983. All of the Karpeles Manuscript Library services are free. There are 11 different Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum’s around the US. The world’s largest private holding of important original documents and manuscripts is located at 21 W. Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara, California.
8. El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
The El Presidio de Santa Barbara is a former military installation in Santa Barbara. The Presidio was built by Spain in 1782. The park houses an original adobe structure called El Cuartel, which is the second oldest surviving building in California. The Santa Barbara Presidio was both military headquarters and governmental center of the region that is now San Luis Obispo County to and including the Pueblo of Los Angeles. El Presidio de Santa Barbara is located at 123 East Canon Perdido, between Anacapa and Santa Barbara Streets in downtown Santa Barbara. It sits across from the Santa Barbara Post Office.
9. Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara was founded in 1976 by artists and supporters seeking a venue that was dedicated solely to contemporary art. There is no admission fee because MCASB believes that the arts should be accessible to all audiences of all persuasions. There are several different education projects put on by the MCASB which can be found on their website www.mcasantabarbara.org/learn.
10. Casa Dolores
Casa Dolores, Center for the Study of the Popular Arts of Mexico is an art museum located on 1023 Bath Street in Santa Barbara, California. The museum is located in the Botiller Adobe house that was built in 1843, the oldest standing two-story adobe in Santa Barbara. The house was purchased by Linda Cathcart in 2007. The Museum houses art historian Linda Cathcart’s collection of over 6,000 objects in various media: clay, wood, ceramic, natural fibers, leather, paper, glass, clay, and tin. Some artists whose work is displayed include Josefina Aguilar, Teodora Blanco, Candelario Medrano, Abelardo Ruiz, Rosa Real de Nieto and the Linares family.