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El Presidio de Santa Barbara picture in Santa Barbara
Courtesy Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Key Info

Price & Hours

  • $5 for adults
  • 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily

Details

  • Historic Homes/Mansions, Museums Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.0
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    4.0
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

Take a step back in time with a visit to the El Presidio de Santa Barbara. The nearly 6-acre state historic park consists of restored buildings that make up the last Spanish military settlement built in northern California.

Originally built in 1782, the park is home to 17 buildings and sites built around a quadrangle known as the Plaza de Armas.

Visitors can learn about the Chumash Native Americans who settled the land more than 13,500 years ago and the Spanish colonization of the land. The park also includes an exhibit on the history of Asian immigration to the Santa Barbara region.

The grounds include two of the original sections of the presidio, Mexican-period and American-period adobes, and other reconstructed buildings like the chapel and bell tower, as well as the findings from archaeological excavations of the sight.

Recent visitors say the park is a little piece of history right in the middle of the busy downtown area, which sometimes gets overlooked by travelers. Travelers also note their appreciation for the way the park works to preserve the history of California and show how the early Spanish settlers lived hundreds of years ago.

Located just two blocks east of State Street, the park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors, children younger than 16 are admitted for free. 

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Hotels Nearby

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  • Hotel
Hotel Santa Barbara

Hotel Santa Barbara ...

  • 0.4 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
Kimpton Canary Hotel

Kimpton Canary Hotel ...

  • 0.3 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
Spanish Garden Inn

Spanish Garden Inn ...

  • 0.1 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
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#1 State Street Santa Barbara's most famous avenue, State Street cuts through downtown and leads right onto Stearns Wharf. It's nearly impossible to miss with its shops, art galleries, theaters and ... Read more » Juan Carlos! / Flickr

#2 Santa Barbara County Courthouse Most travelers scoff at the idea of visiting a courthouse while on vacation. Really dry and boring, right? Wrong. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse epitomizes the Spanish-Moorish architecture that is ... Read more » BackyardProduction / Getty Images

#3 East Beach There are three major beaches in Santa Barbara: Leadbetter, West and East. While Leadbetter has the harbor and West Beach is home to the fireworks on the Fourth of July ... Read more » Geri Lavrov / Getty Images

#4 Old Mission Santa Barbara In the northwest part of town just four blocks from State Street, the Santa Barbara Mission offers visitors a glimpse at the city's early origins.  Read more » Jay Sinclair / Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission

Greg Peterson / Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission

#6 Santa Barbara Zoo Neighboring the Andree Clark Bird Refuge in the east part of downtown, the Santa Barbara Zoo gives visitors a taste of the exotic just a block from the sandy shore ... Read more » playfulphoto / Getty Images

#7 Santa Barbara Museum of Art In the heart of downtown on bustling State Street, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art infuses some high culture into this laid-back Californian community. Read more » Courtesy SBMA

#8 El Presidio de Santa Barbara Take a step back in time with a visit to the El Presidio de Santa Barbara. The nearly 6-acre state historic park consists of restored buildings that make up the ... Read more » Courtesy Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

#9 Santa Barbara Botanic Garden North of downtown, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a refuge for bored beachgoers and nature enthusiasts alike. Visitors walk on unpaved paths through what, at times, looks like unremarkable ... Read more » bpperry / Getty Images

State Street picture in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara County Courthouse picture in Santa Barbara
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El Presidio de Santa Barbara picture in Santa Barbara
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State Street picture in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara County Courthouse picture in Santa Barbara
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Sunday Art Walk picture in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Zoo picture in Santa Barbara
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El Presidio de Santa Barbara picture in Santa Barbara
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State Street runs through the middle of downtown Santa Barbara and hosts an exceptional mix of eateries, shops and theaters. Juan Carlos! / Flickr

Arguably the city's most recognizable building, the courthouse looks more like a palatial resort than an administration building. BackyardProduction / Getty Images

The family-friendly East Beach features sand volleyball courts. Geri Lavrov / Getty Images

This Spanish colonial structure hosts a fascinating museum that depicts life in the 18th and 19th century. Jay Sinclair / Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission

Sunday Art Walks along Cabrillo Boulevard are a favorite of Santa Barbara locals and visitors alike. Greg Peterson / Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission

For a small fee, visitors to the Santa Barbara Zoo can hand feed the Masai giraffes. playfulphoto / Getty Images

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is home to 27,000 works of art.  Courtesy SBMA

The Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park preserves the history of the Spanish colonization of the area.  Courtesy Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden features plants like the Aloe Barberae Palm Tree.  bpperry / Getty Images

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