Offered on set days, this free (tip-based) tour is our flagship tour – perfect for persons unfamiliar with Santa Barbara – giving you a broad understanding of Santa Barbara’s rich history, colorful characters, and events that shaped the city’s rise to becoming the “American Riviera”.   Discover Santa Barbara through the eyes of a local while snapping wonderful photos of our harbor and surrounding mountains.  The adventure begins at 11am on the steps of the Maritime Museum and ends around 12:45 at the Amtrak train station; steps away from the iconic Funk Zone.   The tour’s highlights include, for example, the construction of our harbor, history of the Channel Islands, how Santa Barbara became a resort city, the Potter hotel, an introduction to the Spanish-Colonial style of architecture, Chumash Indians, Moreton Bay Fig Tree, Stearns Wharf and the dolphin fountain, the 1969 Oil Spill and so much more.    Hand-picked 11 x 17 old photographs add to the experience.  2 for 1 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.

Reserve the Waterfront Tour today!

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 takes a little under 2 hours and makes 11 stops.  We do walk across train tracks. Seating is available at half the stops though one must be prepared to stand 5-8 minutes at other stops.
  • Group size limited to 15.  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.  Two (2) person minimum needed for the tour to run.
  • See the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.
Reserve the Waterfront Tour today!


There are several options:

  1. Park at the Harbor where the tour begins.   Parking is $3 per hour.  Short walk (2 minutes) to tour starting point BUT you will have to walk back to the Harbor when the tour is over, about a 25 minute walk.   Don’t be tempted to park in the Harbor’s free 90 minute spaces; you risk not getting back in time to avoid a ticket.  (Note: at this time the harbor shuttle along Cabrillo Blvd is not running.)
  2. Park for free in the parking lot next to the baseball field off Castillo Street, opposite Avania Inn.   Short 5-7 minute walk to tour starting point but 20 minute walk back when the tour is over.
  3. Park in the lot behind the Visitor Center (1 Garden St) or directly across the street and then walk to the Maritime Museum, about a 25 minute walk.  That way, when the tour concludes you will be very near your car.   Look for the self-serve parking kiosks.  $3 per hour.
  4. Park at the Amtrak Station (recommended) at the corner of Yanonali and State St.  First 75 minutes are free, $3 per hour thereafter.  20 minute walk to tour starting point but steps away from your car at the end of the tour.
Reserve the Waterfront Tour today!