John Ummel

John Ummel, a long-time (now retired) resident of Santa Barbara, is the creator and head guide for all three tours.

Modeled after the tip-based walking tours commonly found in Europe, John began offering the Waterfront Tour in June of 2017. The Funk Zone Tour followed in 2019 and Old Town in 2022.

Starting out has a high school teacher (he comes from a family of teachers), John’s tours focus on story telling and historical oddities that add to Santa Barbara’s unique history. John spent most of his career as an auditor for a water district in Northern California. He has three children, all married and living in Colorado. Besides conducting tours, John is also a backyard beekeeper, and enjoys fishing, hiking, and traveling with his wife, Vicki.

Jessica Shea

Jessica Shea began guiding Funk Zone walking tours in 2021.

Originally hailing from Upstate New York, Jessica sought year-round sunshine by the sea in southern California when she moved to Santa Barbara in 2017. She previously lived in Washington, DC, where she worked at National Geographic, and in Santiago, Chile. Jessica has traveled all over the world, visiting more than 30 countries, while taking advantage of tip-based tours as a way to learn the local history and meet locals and tourists.

In addition to guiding tours, Jessica works as an English as a second language teacher, a freelance writer and editor, and a yoga teacher. She is passionate about working as a tour guide, as the job combines many of her interests: meeting new people, sharing stories, and being outside. Jessica also loves reading, camping, and hiking.

David Babbott

David Babbott first visited Santa Barbara in 1970 and lived here
with his wife, Nancy, and three sons in the 1980’s and 1990’s. During his
career, he was a teacher, a major gift and planned giving fundraiser, and, most recently, an investment advisor.

David has traveled to Europe multiple times, but he is now enjoying a deep dive into local history and all that Santa Barbara has to offer.

His interests include tennis and pickle ball, singing, reading, and FaceTiming with grandchildren.

David retired in mid-2019, and he and Nancy moved back to Santa Barbara from Vermont later that year. David guides both the Waterfront and Funk Zone tours.