Santa Barbara is a year-round tourist destination renowned for its warm weather, downtown beaches, and Spanish architecture. In addition to the city's cultural assets, several iconic destinations lay within the city's limits. Mission Santa Barbara, "The Queen of the Missions," is located in Santa Barbara. It was founded on December 4, 1786 on a rise about two miles inland from the harbor, and is maintained as an active place of worship, sightseeing stop, and national historic landmark. The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a red tiled Spanish-Moorish structure, provides a sweeping view of the downtown area from its open air tower. The Presidio, a Spanish military installation built in 1782, was central to the town's early development and remains an icon of the city's colonial roots.

Also famous is the annual Fiesta (originally called "Old Spanish Days"), celebrated every year in August. Fiesta, in Santa Barbara, is synonymous with food, music, and riotous parties, ranging from the annual Covarrubias Adobe Pre-Fiesta Tea, to the Fiesta Pequeña on the steps of the Mission. Fiesta is hosted by the Native Daughters of the Golden West and the Native Sons of the Golden West in a joint committee called the Fiesta Board. Fiesta was originally started as a tourist attraction, like the Rose Bowl, to draw business into the town in the 1920's. 80 years later, it has become a several-day-long bash of Mexican food, Spanish dancing, and traffic tie ups all along State Street.

Flower Girls and Las Señoritas are another attraction of Fiesta, as they march and participate in both Fiesta Pequeña (the kickoff of Fiesta) and the various parades. Flower Girls is for girls under 13. They throw roses and other flowers into the crowds. Las Señoritas are their older escorts. Many Señoritas join the Native Daughters at the age of 16.

In recent years, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), another local non-profit, has also become a major draw bringing over 50,000 attendees during what is usually Santa Barbara's slow season in late January. SBIFF hosts a wide variety of celebrities, premieres, panels and movies from around the world and runs for 10 days.

The annual Summer Solstice Parade draws up to 100,000 people. It is a colorful themed parade put on by local residents, and follows a route along State Street for approximately one mile, ending at Alameda Park. Floats and costumes vary from the whimsical to the outrageous; parties and street events take place throughout the weekend of the parade, which is invariably the first weekend after the solstice.

»Back to Community Resources