Take this tour if you want to explore Santa Barbara’s original Old Town (i.e. 400 to 600 blocks of State Street) as well as the Brinkerhoff Victorian District, and two of Jeff Shelton’s most acclaimed buildings that are now ranked among Santa Barbara’s most frequented architectural attractions. After the tour, continue exploring downtown on your own, taking in the nearby El Paseo, Courthouse, and Paseo Nuevo shopping mall.

What You Will Learn

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

  • Old Town over time and what’s in store going forward
  • The people behind transforming SB from “nothing to something”
  • The 1925 earthquake and its impact on SB’s architecture
  • The origin of Old Spanish Days (Fiesta)
  • The Fifthian Bldg, Hotel Santa Barbara and Hotel Savoy
  • The undergrounding of State Street at Highway 101
  • The Historic Brinkerhoff Victorian District
  • Hendry Brothers , Joe’s Cafe, Gutierrez Drugs, and Seaside Oil Co.
  • Understanding how SB determines buildings of historical significance
  • Casa De Sevilla, SB’s famous (Hollywood) former restaurant
  • Chinese laundries in SB and their demise
  • Shelton’s El Andaluz and Ablitt (“Dr. Seuss”) architectural masterpieces

Your guide carries 11 x 17 old photos to help place you back in time and relates entertaining and interesting stories such as the Faulding Murders, ghosts at the Ogle House, Babe Ruth’s and Lou Gehrig’s visit to SB, how ham radio saved the day during the 1925 earthquake, Santa Barbara’s great heat wave of 1859, and GE TEMPO – a military think tank that operated in downtown SB. Finally, every tour goer receives the Old Town Map, a guide to over 50 eating and drinking establishments along the tour route.