10 Museums to Go And See in Santa Barbara

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Beached Boats
Damian Gadal

When you find yourself in Santa Barbara, your attention turns to the beautiful nature of this place. Tall palms and white sand beaches are the most inviting. We get that. But when you feel the need to grasp more knowledge about this great town there are many interesting museums revealing wonders and providing learning tools. We will give you a list of ten that we find the most pleasurable.

1. Casa del Herrero

Source: Craig Stanfill

Casa Del Herrero (also known as the Steedman Estate) represents Spanish Colonial Revival home. Steedman, who was an industrialist, engineer and amateur architect gathered a team of architects and built and furnished a home to his taste. Complex tilework, boasting European treasures and unique gardens still garnish this House of the Blacksmith. House, garden, and workshop are available by reservation.


  • Location: 1387 East Valley Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108
  • Ticket Price: 20$
  • Phone: 805-565-5653
  • Hours: Wednesday and Saturday 10-11:30 am, 2-3:30 pm

2. Mission Santa Barbara

Source: Konrad Summers

Old Mission Barbara was founded by a collective effort of Franciscan order and Chumash Indian Labor on the Feast of St Barbara, 4th of December, 1786. Some architectural details were altered after the Great Santa Barbara Earthquake in 1812. This mission is one of the 21 missions built in California. It is often referred as Queen of the Missions for its remarkable beauty. Two reservoirs, aqueducts, a mill and a filter house all remain to this day. Sacred artifacts, statues, and jewelry can all be seen during daily tours.


  • Location: 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
  • Ticket Price: free – 12$
  • Phone: +1 805-682-4713
  • Hours: Monday to Sunday 9 am – 5 pm

3. Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara

Source: Airickson

This venue was founded in 1976 by artists and supporters seeking a museum that was dedicated solely to contemporary art. It enhances creativity and critical thinking through artistic projects complementary to modern time. There is no admission fee because they are trying to be accessible to all audiences. Foundations and individuals from this community and around the country keep this important museum alive.


  • Location: 653 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free
  • Phone: +1 805-966-5373
  • Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 11 am-5 pm, Sunday 12-5 pm

4. South coast Railroad Museum at Goleta Depot

Source: Gcoombs

Set in Victorian-style depot dating to 1901 this museum focuses on the history, technology and adventure of railroading. Special attention is devoted to local history, rail life and historical role of the railroad depot in the rural community across the United States. You can find historical artifacts and a collection of rare photographs and connect to this community slightly more.


  • Location: 300 N Los Carneros Rd, Goleta, CA 93117, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free, donations are requested
  • Phone: +1 805-964-3540
  • Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 1-4 pm

5. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

Source: Doc Searls

This construction was the home of the Navy and served as a training facility for more than 50 years. It opened as a museum in 2000. Since then its displays show objects related to ships, marine life, travel on water and history. Exhibits include area lighthouses and artifacts, area fishing and diving industries, surfing, and shipwrecks. Both young and old visitors could find something to enjoy in this nautical center.


  • Location: 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free
  • Phone: +1 805-962-8404
  • Hours: 10 am – 5 pm

6. Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Source: Al R

A number of local organizations formed this museum that offers one of the best collections of regional history. It contains relics from Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, Yankee, and Chinese cultures. There are photographs, artifacts, textiles and furnishings as far as the 15th century. Both permanent and rotating exhibits portray Santa Barbara’s past and present.


  • Location: 136 E De La Guerra St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free
  • Phone: +1 805-966-1601
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-5 pm

7. Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Source: Davide Restivo

Founded in 1941, Santa Barbara Museum of Art is a local museum that enjoys national population. It offers a variety of displays of art from Asian, European and American culture. The artistic collection spans 4000 years from ancient to modern times. There are more than 27 000 works of art and it places this particular museum among those in bigger cities.


  • Location: 1130 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free
  • Phone: +1 805-963-4364
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11-5 pm

8. Ty Warner Sea Center

Source: Damian Gadal

Ty Warner Sea Center, it is located at Santa Barbara’s historic Stearns Wharf. This landmark focuses on marine life. Lively exhibits show various sea creatures from sharks to starfish. The deck allows for a magnified view of the sea life right under your feet. There are a live shark touch pool and a tide pool tank that children can pass through for a fish-eye view.


  • Location: 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free – 8.5$
  • Phone: +1 805-962-2526
  • Hours: Monday to Sunday 10 am-5 pm

9. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Source: Al R

Once you get to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, you are greeted by a giant skeleton of a baby blue whale. All around you makes you feel you stepped into a magical place dedicated to the wonders of nature. There is a beautiful campus with Spanish-style grounds and buildings. You should not miss a mineral and gem gallery, Indian culture center and much praised dioramas in Mammal Hall.


  • Location: 1130 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
  • Ticket Price: 6-18$
  • Phone: +1 805-963-4364
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am-5 pm

10. Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara

Source: DieselDemon

This museum features historical carriages and carriages-related art. Here you can find one of the largest collections of restored and preserved carriages, including authentic circus and army carriages. Additionally, they proudly present a collection of vintage saddles used by famous artists.


  • Location: 129 Castillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
  • Ticket Price: Free
  • Phone: +1 805-962-2353
  • Hours: Monday to Friday 9 am-3 pm

Although being a popular tourist and a resort destination, this town offers a range of cultural events that leave you with a long lasting impression. Unique railroad exhibits, remarkable Sea Center and a cultural mix of 3 continents. Your time will pass very quickly so make sure you organize your schedule ahead.

Have a good trip and travel!

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North America, Santa Barbara County, State of California, U.S.A.