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. This free public tour – offered on specific days – starts at 2pm and ends at 3:30 near the Goat Tree restaurant (120 State St) directly across from the Hotel Californian.* With 11 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, Santa Barbara’s rise to becoming a premier wine producing region, the formation of McConnell’s ice cream and so much more. Along the way, we’ll point out some of the best places to eat. We’ll also talk about proposed developments for this ever-changing neighborhood. 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 for Santa Barbara Winery, Santa Barbara’s oldest winery, can be purchased for $12. Cash or Venmo accepted.
The Funk Zone tour, established in 2019, is led by the tour’s owner/creator, John Ummel, Jessica Shea, David Babbott, or Mandi Dossin.
*A private tour can be arranged on any day of the week at time convenient for you. Subject to tour guides’ availability. Contact John for more information and pricing.
Things to Know
- The tour is tip-based and our guides rely on your generous gratuities as their compensation. (Cash or Venmo).
- 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.
- 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.