Interior hallway Casa de la Guerra, part of the Walking Tour.

Ray Ford

Interior hallway Casa de la Guerra, part of the Walking Tour.

Historic Walking Tour Is Now Available

SB Conservancy Offers Free Guide to Local Historic Landmarks

While it isn’t something that you might put on your top ten things to do, it’s kind of cool to walk around Santa Barbara and check out all of the old buildings, courtyards, city parks and historical adobes. Ranging east-west from State Street to Garden and north-south from Ortega to Arrellaga you can walk for hours.


My fascination with Santa Barbara architecture started many years ago when I took an art class from David Gebhardt, then a young professor at UCSB who would one day become one of the nation’s leading architectural historians. My assignment was to write a paper for the class on the Courthouse. Having come from a part of LA that was not known for its style or glamour, I found the Courthouse absolutely captivating and as I wandered about I spotted a number of nearby buildings that seemed to shout out history — the Museum of Art, Granada, Arlington — they gave me a sense there was something grand, something really significant in the stories that these buildings might tell me, if they could only talk.

Today thanks to the Santa Barbara Conservancy and a few techno tools, they almost can. This past week the Conservancy announced the completion of a free downtown historic walking tour, available online to download to computers, smartphones, ipods or tablets.

Download Google Map to your phone or tablet and use it to guide you along your walk.
Click to enlarge photo

Google Maps

Download Google Map to your phone or tablet and use it to guide you along your walk.

While you might not consider walking around town as an “outdoor experience” exactly, having the map, audio files — which you can download and import into iTunes as a complete broadcast or 30 separate audio files — and your phone or tablet enables you to learn a huge amount about the spectacular architecture in Santa Barbara’s Historic District.

At the SBC website you’ll find detailed descriptions and audio history of 30 historic buildings – including the Lobero, El Presidio, El Paseo, City Hall, Casa de la Guerra and many others. For many years the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara has provided its Sabado and Domingo guided tours of the Historic District but this is the first time the information has been provided as a self-guided tour that you can enjoy from home or experience firsthand.

Ray Ford

Download the Historical Tour Map directly into your smart phone or tablet by scanning the QR code above.

Enjoy from home on your computer or download the audio files and map onto your smart phone or tablet and walk it yourself.

The Santa Barbara Conservancy was formed in 1998 by the late John Pitman, FAIA to increase public awareness of and participation in local preservation issues As the organization has evolved, the Conservancy has expanded its mission to include educating the general public on historic preservation, and documenting Santa Barbara’s wonderful historic resources. The Historic Walking Tour is a culmination of that vision.

Dave Jones

Carrillo Street photo of Masonic Lodge.

The tour, which begins and ends in the 800 block of State Street in Santa Barbara, visits many historic buildings in the downtown area, with narration about the history and significance of the architecture. The tour is narrated by Luis Moreno and features classical guitar accompaniment by the late Stephen Liston. The entire tour encompasses 5 square blocks in downtown Santa Barbara and is intended to last a few hours including leisure walking between the various sites.

“We could not be more pleased with the content and professional quality of this remarkable tour,” says Board President Don Sharpe. “It is a project we have been working on for several years, and we are so excited to make this resource available to both residents and tourists to this historic town.”

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Montecito Pushes Back on Streamlined Rebuild Process

Not so fast with fast-track rebuilding, leaders tell the county

St. George Files Suit Against Gelb for Unpaid Debt

Pair of Isla Vista landlords in legal tussle over property sales costs.

Thousands of Plaintiffs Added to Refugio Oil Spill Case

Litigation follows footsteps of 1969 Union Oil spill attorneys.

Push Comes to Shove Between Law Enforcement and Mental Health

County supervisors confront too many needs with not enough money.

Helicopter Hits Electrical Wires, Starts Small Fire

A crop duster hit power lines in Ellwood Canyon.