This 2 hour – a little over a mile – easy walk along Santa Barbara’s beautiful waterfront makes 12 stops of interest starting at the harbor (Maritime Museum) and ending in the Funk Zone. There is seating for about half the stops. This award-winning tour is ideal for those wanting a broader understanding of Santa Barbara’s rich history, colorful characters, and events that shaped the city’s rise to becoming the “American Riviera”. An optional wine tasting voucher for Santa Barbara Winery can be purchased for just $8 per person.
The tour is led by John Ummel, a retired, long-time resident of Santa Barbara. John launched the Waterfront Tour in June of 2017 and, in 2019, added a separate Funk Zone Tour . Hand-picked 11 x 17 old photographs add to the experience.
What You Will Learn
The Waterfront Tour will give you a broad understanding of Santa Barbara’s rich history
- The Channel Islands and How Santa Barbara Got its Name
- The Engineering Folly of Constructing our Harbor
- Operational Aspects of Today’s Harbor
- How Santa Barbara Became a Resort City
- 1969 Oil Spill
- The History of Sambos Restaurants
- The Chumash Indians and Life Under the Missions
- The Potter Hotel
- Stearns Wharf and the Dolphin Fountain
- 1925 Earthquake and Spanish Colonial Architecture
- Moreton Bay Fig Tree
- Santa Barbara Train Station
- Funk Zone: From Warehouses to Wineries
The tour begins at the Harbor on the steps of the Maritime Museum and ends in the center of the Funk Zone, two blocks from the Visitor Center at 1 Garden Street.
Start point: Maritime Museum (A)
End point: Visitor Center (B)
Things to Know
- The tour is free, though tips are very much appreciated (cash only) with 15% donated to local charity.
- Reservations are recommended. Use the reservation system to see available dates and secure a spot.
- The tour takes 2 hours and makes 12 stops. We do walk across train tracks. Seating is available at four stops though one must be prepared to stand 5-8 minutes at other stops.
- Group size limited to 20. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Four (4) person minimum needed to run the tour.
- See the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.
Paid-parking is available at the Harbor entrance from either self-pay kiosks (pay ahead of time with cash or credit card; put your receipt on your dash) or barcoded ticket dispenser (pay when you leave). If you don’t mind a short walk, you can park for free in the parking lot next to the baseball field off Castillo Street, opposite Avania Inn. Note: Don’t be tempted to park in the Harbor’s free 90 minute spaces; you risk not getting back in time to avoid a ticket.
TIP: Instead of parking at the Harbor, park your car in the lot behind the Visitor Center or directly across the street and take the shuttle from the Visitor Center to the Harbor. That way, when the tour concludes you will be at your car. The shuttle costs 50 cents (25 cents for Seniors) and exact change is required. For the 11am tour, catch the shuttle in front of the Visitor Center between 10:30-10:40am. These are approximate times. OR, you can simply walk from the Visitor Center to the Harbor which takes 20-25 minutes.