The Old Town tour combines local history with architecture. This 105 minute public tour* of lower downtown is suited to those wanting to explore Santa Barbara’s original town center – Old Town – the 400 to 600 blocks of State Street, understand those events that ushered in the Spanish-Colonial style of architecture, take in the unusual Brinkerhoff Victorian District of the late 1800’s, and, finally, gaze in wonder at three of local architect Jeff Shelton’s 21st century buildings that are now ranked among Santa Barbara’s most frequented architectural attractions. 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.) 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 owner/creator, John Ummel, a retired, long-time resident of Santa Barbara.

*A private tour can be arranged on a day convenient for you at either 10am or 2pm.  Contact John for more information.

What You Will Learn:

Key talking points include:

  • The History of Old Town; the 400, 500 and 600 blocks of State St
  • Old Town’s Transformation and its Remaking
  • “El Pueblo Viejo” – How Santa Barbara Acquired the Spanish Colonial Style of Architecture
  • Key Influencers: Pearl Chase, Bernard Hoffman and George Washington Smith
  • 1925 Earthquake – How a Disaster Helped Shape a City’s Future
  • The Fifthian Building, Hotel Santa Barbara, and Hotel Savoy
  • The Historic Brinkerhoff Victorian District + the Ghosts of Ogle House
  • Santa Barbara’s Infamous 4-Stoplights on Highway 101
  • General Electric’s TEMPO Division- A Military Think Tank
  • Hendry Brothers Iron Works , Joe’s Cafe, Gutierrez Drugs, Casa De Sevilla, and Seaside Oil Co.
  • Jeff Shelton’s Pistachio House, El Andaluz and Ablitt (“Dr. Seuss”) House architectural masterpieces

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.

Your guide carries 11 x 17 old photos to help place you back in time and relates entertaining and interesting stories along the way. 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 and a chance to win a McConnell’s ice cream. Finally, 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.