The Old Town tour combines local history with architecture. This tip-based, public tour* – offered on specific days – is suited to those wanting to explore Santa Barbara’s original town center (the 400, 500 and 600 blocks of State Street) and more fully understand those events that ushered in the Spanish-Colonial style of architecture. In addition, we’ll make our way over to the historic Brinkerhoff Victorian District and the ghosts of Ogle House, and finally, gaze in wonder at three of local architect Jeff Shelton’s 21st century residential projects including the famous “Dr. Seuss” house. The Old Town tour begins at 10am in the 700 block of State St, makes 14 stops of interest, and ends around noon at the corner of Haley and State Street. Besides its architectural focus, you’ll learn about key points of interest including the transition of Old Town from 1850 to the present day, the history behind the Hotel Santa Barbara, Drift Hotel and Hotel Savoy, Gutierrez Drug Store, Hendry Brothers Iron Works, the Smith Queen Ann Victorian, and so much more. After the tour, continue exploring on your own taking in the nearby El Paseo, Courthouse, and Paseo Nuevo shopping mall. (Note: there is no seating on this tour.) Discounted beer or wine tasting vouchers given to all tour goers; redeemable at Validation Ale or Santa Barbara Winery. (Does not have to be used the day of the tour.) Cash or Venmo accepted.

*A private tour can be arranged on any day of the week at a time convenient for you.  Subject to tour guides’ availability. Contact John for more information.

Not Included on This Tour:

Historical information and other items of interest above Ortega Street e.g., El Paseo, Lobero Theatre, Courthouse, Meridian Studios, etc.

Parking Options

  1. Park in the parking garage of the Paseo Nuevo mall.  Short 5 minute walk to tour start point.
  2. Park at the parking garage at 16. E. Ortega. Short 5 minute walk to starting point
  3. Parking rates: first 75 minutes are free; $2.50 per hour or fraction thereof thereafter