Santa Barbara Courthouse
Santa Barbara CA 93101
- Mon: 8am-3pm
- Tue: 8am-3pm
- Wed: 8am-3pm
- Thu: 8am-3pm
- Fri: 8am-3pm
As one of the top tourist attractions in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Courthouse is the home of local government, but it garners more acclaim for its picturesque Sunken Garden and lawns, Spanish tiled hallways, famed mural room, and glorious views from the clock tower. Designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by William Mooser III and completed in 1929 (the earlier site was devastated by an earthquake in 1925), this courthouse is not only a city of Santa Barbara Landmark, but is also a California State Historic Landmark and in 2005 became a National Historic Landmark. It's no wonder that visitors from around the world visit this unique attraction.
Best and worst time to visit the Santa Barbara Courthouse
Weekdays are less congested than weekends. If you want to explore the Santa Barbara courthouse and gardens on your own with fewer visitors, arrive when the courthouse opens, weekdays at 8:00 a.m. However to get the most bang (and information) from your visit, arrive in time for the Docent led tours that run about 55 minutes, weekdays, Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. If you can't make that time, there is also a daily tour at 2:00 p.m. (including weekends).
Must See/Do at the Santa Barbara Courthouse
A must-see for the Santa Barbara Courthouse is the stunning, newly restored mural room. Four murals depict the history of Santa Barbara by artist Daniel Sayre Groesbeck. Don't forget to look up and also view the mural on the ceiling by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Smeraldi. Also take the stairs (or elevator) up the 85-foot "El Mirador" clock tower to the observation deck. Walking up you'll witness the inner mechanism of the clock and bells against a thematic clock mural. At the top of the tower, head out to the observation deck for 360-degree views of the city of Santa Barbara and the surrounding mountains and sea. Selfies are a must.
Admission to the Santa Barbara Courthouse
Admission to the Santa Barbara Courthouse is free, but a donation is suggested. The Santa Barbara Courthouse is open daily (except for Christmas Day). Monday through Friday, hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When entering the courthouse off of Anacapa Street, be sure to check out the information desk in the lobby for event schedules and courthouse information.
How to get to the Santa Barbara Courthouse
The Santa Barbara Courthouse is located at 1100 Anacapa Street between E. Anapamu Street and East Figueroa Street. There is a nearby paid parking structure adjacent to the Santa Barbara Public Library (Library Garage/Lot 7 at 1125 Anacapa Street). There is also metered street parking, but parking limits and costs vary, so read parking enforcement signs carefully. For public transportation, Santa Barbara MTD Bus Line Number 2 makes stops around the courthouse.
Food at the Santa Barbara Courthouse
There is no food inside the Santa Barbara Courthouse however there are dozens of restaurants within a short walk. Some top choices are Jeannine's American Bakery Restaurant (15 Figueroa Street) and Andersen's Danish Bakery & Restaurant (1106 State Street), both of which are open for breakfast or lunch. You can also order take-out and enjoy a picnic in the Courthouse's Sunken Gardens.
Insider tips for visitors to the Santa Barbara Courthouse
If visiting the Santa Barbara Courthouse during the summer months, check the schedule of events, which might include a public speaker, concert, or even a wedding in the Sunken Garden grounds. Only one block away on State Street, check out the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.
Author's bio: Lori Huck works in television development as well as writes on entertainment, travel and the arts. She's a fan of the vibrant arts scene in Los Angeles and is a member of many film, television, and arts organizations.