Best Places to Check Out in the American Riviera

Old Mission Santa Barbara

The iconic landmark of the American Riviera. Established on the feast day of Saint Barbara in 1786, Old Mission Santa Barbara is a living historical landmark where you can gather for prayer, a sense of community, and support efforts to restore this valuable piece of architecture. Complete with a parish, the Mission also features a museum with period artifacts and art, a historic mausoleum, and an archival library.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Located just down the road from Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a landmark museum founded in 1916 which contains over 3.5 million artifacts encompassing every aspect of natural history. Recently renovated in 2018, the museum features interactive exhibits and the only planetarium on the central coast. Sitting on seventeen acres along Mission Creek, the museum promotes scientific literacy for all ages and provides education of the area’s diverse natural history.

Parma Park

Parma Park
is Santa Barbara’s largest city park. Perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, Parma Park boasts over five miles of trails and a shady oasis among its 200 acres of chaparral and oak woodland. Rowe’s Table, the park’s highest point at 775 feet, offers sweeping views of the city of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands, and Montecito.

Butterfly Beach

Spend a day basking in the sun in Santa Barbara paradise. Named for the butterflies drawn to the beach by the colorful wildflowers bordering the bike path, Butterfly Beach is a favorite among locals. Due to its east-west orientation, this stunning stretch of coastline is the perfect place to enjoy spectacular sunrises and sunsets and go swimming and surfing during the day. Other sights at the beach include the Channel Islands and native marine wildlife such as whales and dolphins.

Stevens Park

Lining the San Roque Canyon, Stevens Park boasts 25 acres of curated outdoor space. Amenities include picnic areas, barbecue sites, a playground, and hiking trails. The park also connects to the historic Santa Ynez Range Trails, which offers hours of fun exploring the local landscape.

El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park

Built by the Spanish in 1792, Presidio of Santa Barbara is a former military fortress deemed to be the birthplace of Santa Barbara. El Presidio de Santa Bárbara is an important historical landmark, used as a learning tool to explore the role of Hispanic heritage in the development of the community and California as a whole. Aside from the magnificent historic architecture, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation also operates exhibits with an emphasis on the location's history and a variety of other topics, including archaeology and culture.

Casa de la Guerra

Constructed between the years 1818 and 1828 by a military officer of the Presidio de Santa Barbara, José de la Guerra y Noriega, Casa de la Guerra is a combination of historic sites and museums. Exhibits pertaining to the Guerra family, who lived in the home until 1943, are on display in the residence which has been fully restored to its former appearance from 1858. The Casa de la Guerra also hosts educational programs such as a Día de Los Muertos Craft Day and allows community and private events to use the site.

Casa del Herrero

Casa del Herrero, also known as the House of the Blacksmith, is a Spanish Revival house built in 1925. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this site offers tours of both the beautiful home and its Moorish-style and Country Place Era-inspired gardens. In addition to tours, Casa del Herrero is full of artwork from Spain’s “Golden Age,” including everything from paintings and drawings to books and horticulture records. The House of the Blacksmith sits on eleven acres and is perfect to spend a day exploring the town’s history while enjoying the local landscape.

Stow House & Sexton Museum

Located within the South Coast Railroad Museum, Stow House & Sexton Museum is focused on the Rancho La Patera and Stow House, both dating from the late 19th century. Visitors to this site have several options to spend a day exploring the grounds, including strolling through the gardens, taking a guided tour of the Stow House, and utilizing the history education center’s hands-on exhibits.

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

For a quick stop between different points of interest, the Moreton Bay Fig Tree offers a perfect photo opportunity. Planted in 1876, the Moreton Bay Fig Tree extends over 170 feet and is considered to be one of the largest of its kind in the country.

Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Constructed in 1964, the Santa Barbara Historical Museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in Santa Barbara. The museum boasts a collection of over 80,000 objects and artifacts pertaining to the city’s history and growth. Rotating exhibits in the gallery showcase local traditions and historical events, while the permanent gallery shows the growth of the town from its beginnings.
The American Riviera is a spectacular place to visit, but a lucky few get to call this place home. If you’re looking for your own piece of America Riviera real estate, Chris Palme will assist you in your search. With properties available in Santa Barbara, The Riviera, and Montecito, contact Chris Palme today to find a home within minutes of these breathtaking historic sites.


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