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Turner Forte/Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Buereau & Film Commission

Key Info

1100 Anacapa St.

Price & Hours

Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m. | Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Free, Tours, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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 found across the city. Completed in 1929, the complex impresses visitors with its intricate tile mosaics, colorful gardens and jaw-dropping view of the city and ocean below.

Try to stop by when you can also take a peek into the clock tower in the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery, to see the impressive clock, which still works. It is only open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Surrounding the clock is an impressive 60-foot mural depicting the history of timekeeping.

Many visitors said this must-see sight exceeded their expectations thanks to the impressive history and architecture on display. Reviewers suggested you take an hourlong docent-led tour to learn more about the courthouse and Santa Barbara history. 

The courthouse is only a block from bustling State Street, near the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The courthouse is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Docent-led tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; weekend tours are also available at 2 p.m. For more information, check out the courthouse visitor website.

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Time to Spend
#1 East Beach

There are four major beaches in Santa Barbara: Leadbetter, Arroyo Burro, West and East. While Leadbetter has the harbor, Arroyo Burro is best for travelers with dogs and West Beach is home to the fireworks on the Fourth of July, East Beach is the best stretch to catch some rays without being mobbed by crowds. 

The shoreline may still fill up more on the weekends, but East Beach is a bit more removed from State Street and the downtown area than the other beaches, offering more space to stretch out or take a walk along the sandy shores. You may have to protect yourself from the occasional rogue volleyball though, as there are more than a dozen sandy courts here. 

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