John Ummel

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, hiking, and traveling with his wife, Vicki.

Jessica Shea

Jessica Shea began guiding Funk Zone walking tours in 2021.

Originally hailing from Upstate New York, Jessica sought year-round sunshine by the sea in southern California when she moved to Santa Barbara four years ago. She previously lived in Washington, DC, where she worked at National Geographic, and in Santiago, Chile. Jessica has traveled all over the world, visiting more than 30 countries, while taking advantage of tip-based tours as a way to learn the local history and meet locals and tourists.

In addition to guiding tours, Jessica works as an English as a second language teacher, a freelance writer and editor, and a yoga teacher. She is passionate about working as a tour guide, as the job combines many of her interests: meeting new people, sharing stories, and being outside. Jessica also loves reading, camping, and hiking.