Spiral staircase in Santa Barbara court

You don’t need to be an aficionado of architecture to enjoy the styles that Santa Barbara has to offer. We never tire of passing the Courthouse or the Arlington, Granada and Lobero Theatres; seeing the Art Deco frescoes in the downtown post office; the adobe buildings at El Presidio; and having a meal in La Arcada.


The first thing you’ll notice is the way the entire downtown area could have been lifted from a small town in Andalucia—and that’s not by accident. Between the earthquake that nearly leveled the city in 1925 and the leadership of Pearl Chase, the city was rebuilt in the Spanish Revival style, influenced by many of the designs of George Washington Smith.

You can still see many of the city’s Victorians dotted around town, as well as some homes in the Craftsman style. For architecture buffs, contact the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara who hosts weekly walking tours, lectures and more.