Built in 1929 by architect William Mooser in Spanish Revival style, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is a working government building. Despite its daily function as a working courthouse, visitors are encouraged to come and explore the building and its landscaped gardens. Trace the history of California in a visual way with a visit to the Mural Room.
Climb to the top of the tower—known as El Mirador—for excellent views over the city, and see one of the last operational Seth Thomas Tower Clocks in the US as well as a mural depicting the art of timekeeping at the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery in the tower. The courthouse is a regular stop on walking tours of historic Santa Barbara.
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Things to know before you go
- The courthouse and tower are wheelchair accessible.
- Bring a picnic to enjoy the surroundings of the sunken gardens.
- The courthouse offers free drop-in tours for visitors.
- The courthouse includes a jail wing which was once used to house prisoners.
- The ceiling in the clock gallery is painted with the position of the stars in 1602, when Santa Barbara was named.
How to get there
Santa Barbara Courthouse is centrally located in the downtown area of Santa Barbara. It’s close to many shops, restaurants, and museums. A shuttle bus service runs up and down State Street for convenient access to the courthouse, and the area is easy to walk or cycle around. Santa Barbara is served by a domestic airport with flights to Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco.
When to get there
The courthouse is open daily except for major public holidays. Docent-led tours are available every day. During the Old Spanish Days fiesta in August, the courthouse hosts special events.
Visit Santa Barbara’s Wine Country
Santa Barbara’s Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys are home to hundreds of acres of vineyards. The area is famous for pinot noir and chardonnay. Visitors can join a guided wine-tasting tour at one of the many tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara, hop into a car and explore the valleys, stopping at different producers for a taste along the way, or join a tour with a designated driver.
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- Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA)
- Leadbetter Beach
- Funk Zone
- Stearns Wharf
- Old Mission Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
- Santa Barbara Cruise Port
- Santa Barbara Waterfront
- Shoreline Park
- Santa Barbara Zoo
- Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG)
- State Street