Learn about Santa Barbara’s history and cultural contributions by visiting any one of the many local museums.
The Natural History Museum
412 S. McClelland St.
Santa Maria, CA 93456 805-614-0806
There’s something for everyone at the Natural History Museum, “Where natural history comes to life!” Exhibits and displays feature rocks and fossils, native birds, a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex skull and a bat room. The museum also has engaging, hands-on exhibits, live animal visits and educational programs.
Old Mission Santa Barbara
2201 Laguna St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93105 805-682-4713
Founded in 1786, Old Mission Santa Barbara is known as the Queen of Missions. Explore the museum, mausoleum, church and 10 acres of beautiful gardens. Guided tours are available.
Old Mission Santa Ines
1760 Mission Drive
Solvang, CA 93464 805-688-4815
Founded in 1804, Santa Ines is the 19th California mission. The mission has a beautiful view of the Santa Ynez River Valley and the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges. Visitors can also see hand-painted murals and priceless European art and sculptures. The mission is home to gardens as well and is the resting place of Native Americans and early California settlers.
Rancho La Patera & Stow House
304 N. Los Carneros Road
Goleta, CA 93117 805-681-7216
Experience Rancho La Patera by walking through the gardens, taking a guided tour of the Stow House and enjoying hands-on exhibits in the Calvalletto History Education Center. Start in the Visitor Interpretive Center to get an overview.
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
113 Harbor Way, Suite 190
Santa Barbara, CA 93109 805-962-8404
The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is in the Santa Barbara Waterfront Center. The museum features exhibits on Goleta’s canons, surfing, Santa Barbara Channel shipwrecks and a boat model gallery. There’s also a children’s area, where younger visitors can learn about the sea with hands-on activities.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
1130 State St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-963-4364
The Santa Barbara Museum of Art includes exhibits on ancient art, Asian art, modern and contemporary art, sculpture and photography. The museum also hosts a variety of programs and workshops for children and adults. Guided tours are available.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
2559 Puesta del Sol
Santa Barbara, CA 93105 805-682-4711
The Santa Barbara Museum combines history, science, nature and art with a dozen exhibits showcasing regional natural history. Exhibits include a life-size blue whale skeleton, a planetarium and an ethnobotanic garden. The museum also offers a number of family programs, lectures and festivals.
Santa Maria Museum of Flight
3015 Airpark Drive
Santa Maria, CA 93455 805-922-8758
The Santa Maria Museum of Flight’s planes, models, photos, memorabilia and exhibits will excite any aviation enthusiast.
Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum
705 S. McClelland St.
Santa Maria, CA 93454 805-928-8414
Children will love the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, which includes a live shark tank, giant bubble machine and “creation station” as well as hands-on educational exhibits based on local themes such as agriculture, aerospace and the environment.
Santa Maria Valley Historical Museum
616 S. Broadway
Santa Maria, CA 93454 805-922-3130
Get a glimpse into the history of Santa Maria through pictures, artifacts and valley memorabilia collected by the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society.
Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum & Parks-Janeway Carriage House
3596 Sagunto St.
Santa Ynez, CA 93460 805-688-7889
The museum is composed of exhibit spaces that include the Native American room, the Pioneer Room, the Jeannette Lyons Costume Room, the Valley Room, the Ellen Gleason Library and a gift shop. Across the museum’s early-California style courtyard is the 7,500-square-foot Parks-Janeway Carriage House, renowned as one the finest carriage collections in the U.S. More than 36 carriages as well as saddles are on display.
South Coast Railroad Museum
300 N. Los Carneros Road
Goleta, CA 93117 805-964-3540
This museum focuses on the history, technology and adventure of railroading. Its centerpiece is the Goleta Depot, a country railroad stationhouse built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1901 during the completion of the Coast Route that joined San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Goleta Depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kids will love the miniature train ride.