The Historic Mission is a crown jewel among Santa Barbara’s myriad other crown jewels. The museum, mausoleum, church and surrounding gardens all offer a relaxing yet historical side of our fair city that is not to be missed. You can tour the grounds at your own pace or schedule a docent-lead tour Thursday through Sunday.
2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (805) 682-4149
Daily 9:00AM to 5:00PM (Except Easter, Thanksgiving, & Christmas Day)
2. Mission Rose Garden
Across the street from the mission is the Mission Historical Park and Rose Garden with a stunning array of over 1500 rose varieties. Stop to smell the roses and hang out on one of the many park benches to take in the surrounding beauty. Beyond the well-tended grass on the mountain-side of the lawn is a little trail that leads over to an old waterworks reservoir built in 1806 by the Chumash Indians and still in use today by the city water system!
3. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located just behind the Old Mission and offers visitors of all ages a wealth of things to see and do. Walk right up to a life size, 74-foot Blue Whale skeleton. Enjoy informative exhibit halls about birds, insects, mammals, marine life, fossils, and Native Americans. Contemplate the beauty of nature and the confluences of nature, history, science, and the arts in the Maximus Art Gallery. Browse and read in the beautiful Museum Library, including its excellent children’s collection. Wander and explore the Nature Trail along Mission Creek. Experience the wonder and excitement of space exploration in the Space Lab and Gladwin Planetarium. Purchase mementos and unique gifts at the Museum Store. (Source: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History)
2559 Puesta Del Sol,Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (805) 682-4711
Daily 10:00 AM–5:00 PM (Except Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day)
4. Rocky Nook Park
Plan ahead and pack a picnic to eat in Rocky Nook Park among large sandstone boulders and shady oak and sycamore trees. If you’re feeling adventurous you can sneak down creekside to see a pretty spectacular view of the creek under the bridge. There are also two little mosaic-covered lizards watching over the creek, adding a little color to an otherwise earth-toned landscape.
610 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA
8am – Sunset
5. Santa Barbara Riviera Park
The Santa Barbara Riviera Park and Theatre were the original site of the UCSB campus. The grounds have panoramic views of the sea and city and are surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds. The Theatre usually plays art house/foreign films, so check the schedule and stop in for a show!
2020 Alameda Padre Serra, Santa Barbara, CA
6. Santa Barbara Frog Shrine
A massive shrine to our kissing cousin: the frog! Hundreds of frog figurines are assembled on this roadside display in various shapes, sizes and costumes. It is quite a random & quirky exhibit among the beautiful houses that make up the Riviera. Whether you are a frog lover or just interested in seeing something out of the ordinary, we thought it was worthy of a stop on the tour.
7. The Descent Back to Santa Barbara
The walking tour turns back toward town from here. You can explore any of the various streets on the way back to the Mission and see all of the interesting houses nestled together on the Riviera.
* Franceschi Park
If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can carry on to Franceschi Park where there are more trails, a picnic area, a dilapidated house and a giant statue of Francesco Franceschi’s head!
1501 Franceschi Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93103