This 2 hour (1.5 mile) easy walk along Santa Barbara’s beautiful waterfront makes 12 stops of interest starting at the harbor, with the last stop in the Funk Zone.  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 or beer tasting voucher can be purchased for just $8 per person, good for three tastings (samples).

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 has since added a separate Funk Zone Tour.  Hand-picked 11 x 17 old photographs add to the experience.

Reserve the Waterfront Tour today!

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 at the Cabrillo Boulevard Visitor Center with 12 stops along the way.

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 is over level ground. We do walk across train tracks several times. Seating is not available and one must be prepared to stand 5-8 minutes in between stops.
  • Group size limited to 10. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Please, no dogs. Four (4) person minimum needed to run the tour.
  • See the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.
Reserve the Waterfront Tour today!


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; for the 2pm tour, around 1:30-1:40 and, for the 5pm tour, around 4:30-4:40. These are approximate times. OR, you can simply walk from the Visitor Center to the Harbor which takes 20-25 minutes.

Electric shuttle 

Shuttle Stop

Reserve the Waterfront Tour today!