Traveling through time and combining history with architecture, this 90 minute tour is perfect for those wanting to explore Santa Barbara’s original Old Town (the 400 to 600 blocks of State St) and its transition, the unusual Brinkerhoff Victorian District of the late 1800’s, and three of architect Jeff Shelton’s 21st century buildings that are now ranked among Santa Barbara’s most frequented architectural attractions. After the tour, you might enjoy lunch at one of the many eateries in Old Town or continue exploring on your own, taking in the nearby El Paseo, Courthouse, and Paseo Nuevo shopping mall.

What You Will Learn

The Lower Downtown (“Old Town”) 90 minute tour combines history, architecture, and storytelling, to give you an insiders view on how Santa Barbara transitioned from “Anytown USA” to the eclectic, picturesque gem it is today. Key talking points include but are not limited to:

  • The History of Old Town; the 400, 500 and 600 blocks of State St
  • Adoption of the Spanish Colonial Style of Architecture
  • The aftermath of the 1925 earthquake
  • The Fifthian Bldg, Hotel Santa Barbara, and Hotel Savoy
  • The Historic Brinkerhoff Victorian District
  • Hendry Brothers , Joe’s Cafe, Gutierrez Drugs, Casa De Sevilla, and Seaside Oil Co.
  • Jeff Shelton’s Pistachio House, El Andaluz and Ablitt House architectural masterpieces

Your guide carries 11 x 17 old photos for each stop to help place you back in time and relates entertaining and interesting stories such as the ghosts at the Ogle House, how ham radio saved the day during the 1925 earthquake, Santa Barbara’s 4 stop lights on Highway 101, and GE TEMPO – a military think tank that operated in downtown SB. At the end of the tour, every tour participant receives the Old Town Map, a guide to over 50 eating and drinking establishments along the tour route.