This is our most popular tour. The Funk Zone is a former warehouse district that has evolved into an active area for wine and beer tasting, art galleries, and some of the best restaurants in town.  By tracing the evolution of this district, you will learn about significant events and trends that shaped our local history.  Our 90 minute public tour starts at 2pm and ends at 3:30  near the Goat Tree restaurant  (120 State St) directly across from the Hotel Californian.*   With 12 stops  – which may include visiting a local artist or brewery – you’ll learn about Santa Barbara’s contribution to surfing,  the old and new Hotel Californian, founding of Lockheed aircraft, and Santa Barbara’s rise to becoming a premier wine producing region.  Along the way, we’ll point out some of the best places to eat and imbibe.   Hand-picked 11 x 17 old photographs add to the experience.  All tour goers get a chance to win a McConnell’s ice cream and a copy of our Funk Zone Map; a very handy reference guide to more than 60 wineries, brew pubs, restaurants and art studios in the vicinity.  An optional wine tasting voucher – good for a 5 taste flight at Santa Barbara Winery, Santa Barbara’s oldest winery, can be purchased for a substantially discounted price.  Cash or Venmo accepted.

The tour is led by either John Ummel, a retired, long-time resident of Santa Barbara, Jessica Shea,  originally from upstate New York, or former Santa Barbaran, David Babbott, who  returned to Santa Barbara in 2019, or finally Mandi Dossin, who joined us in 2022.

*A private tour can be arranged on a day and time convenient for you. Subject to tour guides’ availability.  Contact John for more information and pricing.

Reserve the Funk Zone Tour today!

What You Will Learn

Not only will you learn about the history of this former blue collar, industrial part of town but you will also learn how the Funk Zone has transitioned into a wine tasting, brew pub, and art and restaurant scene today.  Topics include but are not limited to:

  • History of the Funk Zone
  • The “Big Kick Out”; the demise of the small entrepreneur
  • Proposed developments
  • The Old and New Hotel Californian
  • 1925 Earthquake and its influence on SB’s Architecture
  • The Founding of Lockheed Aircraft
  • Plant 59, Santa Barbara’s bomber assembly plant during WWII
  • Art in the Funk Zone (with a possible visit with a local artist)
  • History of McConnell’s Ice Cream
  • SB Winery and how SB Became a Premier Wine Producing Region
  • Funk Zone’s Contribution to Surfing
  • Santa Barbara’s POW camp during WWII
  • Bekins Van and Storage Building now home to SONOS

The tour begins at 2pm and ends near the Goat Tree Restaurant (120 State St) at 3:30 directly across from the Hotel Californian, one block up from Stearns Wharf.

Things to Know

  • The tour is free, though tips are very much appreciated (cash and Venmo accepted).
  • Reservations are not necessary but highly recommended. Use the reservation system to see available dates and secure a spot.
  • The tour is limited to a maximum of 10 persons.  Two (2) person minimum needed to run the tour.
  • The tour will last about 90 minutes and is over level ground. We do walk across train tracks.  There are 2-3 places along the route where seating is available but otherwise be prepared to stand 5-8 minutes in between stops.  Most stops are in the shade.
  • See the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

Parking Options

  1. Park in the parking garage behind the Hotel Californian.  This is literally just steps away from the tour start and end point.
  2. Park at the Amtrak Station, corner of Yanonali and State St.  Short 5 minute walk to and from tour starting point.
  3. Park at the Visitor Center, 1 Garden Street.  Short 5-7 minute walk to and from tour starting point.

Reserve the Funk Zone Tour today!