John Ummel, a long-time (now retired) resident of Santa Barbara, created and guides the free Waterfront and Funk Zone walking tours.

The idea for a free tour was conceived while traveling in Europe, where tip-based walking tours are common. John was particularly impressed by a tour guide in Reykjavik, Iceland who “knocked it out of the park!” Discovering that no one offered a similar experience in Santa Barbara, John sought the help of two local historians while embarking on nearly a year of in-depth research and study in advance of offering the Waterfront Tour in June of 2017. The Funk Zone Tour followed in 2019.

Starting out has a high school teacher (he comes from a family of teachers), John spent most of his career as an auditor for a water district in Northern California. He has three children, all married and living in Colorado. Besides conducting tours, John is also a backyard beekeeper and enjoys fishing and traveling with his wife, Vicki.