Take this tour if you want to explore Santa Barbara’s former warehouse district now home to wine and beer tasting rooms, art galleries and restaurants. The 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 – you will learn about the history of the Funk Zone and how it has transitioned over time. For example, 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. (A private tour for $25 per person can be reserved on a day and time convenient for you.*) All tour goers get a chance to win a McConnell’s ice cream and a Funk Zone Map; a very handy reference guide to more than 60 restaurants, wineries, brew pubs and art studios in the vicinity. An optional wine tasting voucher can be purchased for just $8 per person — the best deal in town! 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.
*Subject to tour guides’ availability
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 it’s 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 only).
- 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. Seating is generally not available along the tour route and one must be prepared to stand 5-8 minutes in between stops. Most stops are in the shade.
- See the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.
- Park in the parking garage behind the Hotel Californian. This is literally just steps away from the tour start and end point.
- Park at the Amtrak Station, corner of Yanonali and State St. Short 5 minute walk to and from tour starting point.
- Park at the Visitor Center, 1 Garden Street. Short 5-7 minute walk to and from tour starting point.