Private Walking Tour of El Pueblo Viejo in Santa Barbara

1 to 2 hours
Free cancellation
1 - 10
Mobile ticket


On this tour, we will peel back the layers of history to imagine what Santa Barbara, and the people in it, were like in the 18th and 19th centuries. We will explore the old core of Santa Barbara, known as El Pueblo Viejo, "the old town, " centered around the Presidio, and discover what remains of the first few decades of the town. I will show you the must see sites, as well as some out-of-the-way architectural gems that only a local like me knows about. I have researched local history quite extensively and am very knowledgeable. What makes this tour unique is my in-depth understanding of local history, lore, and architecture, and my abilities to answer whatever questions you might have, as well as to show you the hidden places that aren’t listed in every guidebook. We can arrange beforehand to focus on what you find most interesting: Architecture? History? Adobe construction? Perhaps a combination of them all!
I can cater to whatever interests you have!


  • Experienced Guide
  • Entry/Admission - El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
  • Entry/Admission - Casa de la Guerra
  • Entry/Admission - El Paseo Building

What to expect

This is a typical itinerary for this product

Stop At: El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, 123 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2215

Here, guests will admire one of the oldest structures in California. Built in 1782 of Adobe brick, the Presidio includes original rooms, soldiers gardens, a chapel, and re-creations of everyday objects of the 18th century. Guests will learn how the buildings were constructed only from materials of the surrounding countryside, and get a chance to imagine life in the far-reaches of the once great Spanish Empire.

Duration: 10 minutes

Pass By: 820 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

We will pass by the Rochin Adobe, built in 1856 by a descendant of Captain Francisco Ortega, first Comandante of the Presidio, using adobe bricks salvaged from the almost destroyed fort. Circa 1900, it was covered in wooden clapboard, as it remains today.

Pass By: Santa Barbara Historical Museum, 136 E de La Guerra St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2205

Constructed in 1964 of Adobe brick, the museum is a classic example of early California-style architecture. The museum contains many excellent exhibits on local history, including painting and a collection of etchings. The courtyard also features two adobe structures dating from 1817 and a gift shop, and is an excellent spot for pictures. Guests can enter to explore the exhibits if they choose.

Stop At: 715 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

Built in 1817 by Domingo Carillo for his bride, Conception Pico, the sister of Pio Pico, Governor of Alta California, these adobes have been wonderfully preserved as part of the Historical Museum. Here, we will stop in the shade of the courtyard and listen to the burbling fountain, as the guide explains tales of Spanish-era pirates and battles.

Duration: 7 minutes

Pass By: 112 E De La Guerra St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

The Lugo adobe and Meridian studios. The picturesque studios, designed by famous architect George Washington Smith, were completed in 1925. Here, guests can admire the unique pastel-colored stucco walls and large glass windows of the studios, as well as an ancient wisteria vine, covered in purple flowers in spring. In the back of the studios lies a hidden gem: the Lugo Adobe. Built by a retired Presidio soldier in the early 19th century, the adobe has been well-preserved and remodelled. Due to its secluded location, it is seldom frequented by tourists.

Stop At: 802 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

Taking its name after the Presidio, to which it is immediately adjacent, this beautiful building was constructed in 1945, but incorporates two original Mexican-period adobes, as well as the 1906 Nardi Hotel. Behind the building there is a hidden courtyard and garden, and Presidio St., technically Santa Barbara’s earliest city street, as it was once part of the path that ran from the waterfront to the Presidio, and on to the Mission.

Duration: 5 minutes

Pass By: Orena Adobe, 39 E de La Guerra St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2217

These Adobes, which line this section of E. De La Guerra St., were built in 1849 by Jose de la Guerra, fifth Comandante of the Santa Barbara Presidio. They are a perfect example or original Mexican-Californio architecture. They were later sold to Gaspar Orena. His descendants still own these structures today!

Pass By: City of Santa Barbara City Hall, 735 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

Constructed before the 1925 earthquake, in 1923, Santa Barbara’s City Hall is an early monument to the Spanish Colonial Revival movement. The building is decorated with hand-painted tiles, and has arches which extend over the sidewalk. In front, there is a large California Pepper Tree, which is a city landmark. City Hall, along with Casa de la Guerra and the News-Press Building, face Plaza de la Guerra, the ceremonial heart of the city.

Stop At: Casa de la Guerra, 15 E de La Guerra St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2217

Constructed in 1819 by Don Jose de la Guerra, fifth Comandante of the Presidio, as both a mansion for his family and a center for his business, this adobe remains just as impressive as it did back in the day. It was a center of cultural and political activities, back when Santa Barbara was simply a few adobes grouped around the Presidio. Today, it remains a centerpiece of the town, hosting the Fiesta celebrations each summer. It is open for visitors on the weekends.

Duration: 10 minutes

Stop At: El Paseo Building, 812 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-3207

The construction of El Paseo, from 1922-29, was the first major step in converting the architecture of Santa Barbara from Eastern US main street to Hispanic Pueblo. We will wander through the quaint passageways, visit the romantic courtyard, and meander down the famous “Street in Spain, ” before emerging onto State St. proper. Great spot for pictures.

Duration: 5 minutes

Pass By: Hill-Carrillo Adobe, 11 E Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2706

Built by Daniel Hill, one of the earliest American immigrants to Santa Barbara, in 1825 this unassuming in one of the oldest private structures in the town, and was once the center of its social life. In years since, it was used by the first City Council meetings in the 1850's, and was restored in 1919.

Pass By: Masonic Temple, 16 E Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2707

Covered in intricate carvings and frescoes, Santa Barbara's Masonic Temple is one of the most sophisticated buildings in town.

Pass By: 100 E Carrillo St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

This structure was built in 1914, after the designs of architect J. Corbley Pool, with an addition by Julia Morgan. It is unique as it is the only prominent brick structure in Santa Barbara.

Pass By: Events Professionals, 924 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

This stately Spanish Building was constructed in 1926, and was designed by Julia Morgan, the first woman to attend the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris. She constructed over 700 buildings in California, and this building is a fine example of her style.

Pass By: 920 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

This tiny structure, hidden away behind the Presidio, was constructed in 1825, and has remained relatively unchanged since.

Stop At: 122 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

We will end our tour at El Cuartel, across the street from where we began. This small structure was once a part of the Presidio complex, and is the oldest building in town, constructed in 1788. Here, you can wander inside the rooms and back garden, to see a relatively unchanged 18th-century structure, and imagine what life was like back then

Duration: 5 minutes

Time of tour

Confirm time with the local provider in advance of your experience.
Private Walking Tour of El Pueblo Viejo in Santa Barbara
6/21/2021 - 3/26/2024
Monday - Thursday : 09:30 AM - 05:30 PM
Friday : 09:30 AM - 05:00 PM
Saturday : 09:30 AM - 06:00 PM
Sunday : 09:30 AM - 05:30 PM

Meeting point

El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, 123 E Canon Perdido St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

Additional information

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Transportation is wheelchair accessible
  • No heart problems or other serious medical conditions
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands
  • Contactless payments for gratuities and add-ons
  • I am fully vaccinated. As this entire tour is outdoors, it is not necessary for us to wear masks, though social distancing is required. However, if you feel more comfortable with me wearing a mask, or you want to wear a mask, or both, I am more than happy to accommodate those needs.


  • Parking Fees

Ticket delivery

You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.


For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start time of the experience.
July 2021

Wow! What a good experience. Sullivan is knowledgable, helpful, and funny. This tour is perfect for anyone who wants a fun and informative tour of Santa Barbara. My family and I loved this tour, and I would highly recommend for anyone else!

May 2022

Sully is a very knowledgeable historian of Santa Barbara and California in general. We had a great time, he told us some really amazing stories. Would definitely recommend to anyone who visits Santa barbara. We have been here many times but didn't know the history. It's obvious that he loves what...

March 2022

We took Sullivan Israel’s private walking tour of El Pueblo Viejo in Santa Barbara and were blown away! Sullivan loves Santa Barbara and really knows its history. He answered all of our questions and more. He even brought old maps and pictures to highlight his presentation. Sullivan was very ge...

September 2021

Sullivan's rich detailed accounts of early Santa Barbaran & early Californian history come with short geography & carpentry explainers, are packed with wit, dense, logical. He uses the houses, streets and mountain vistas around presidio to illustrate stories about soldiers, bandits, priests, expl...

August 2021

Great experience overall. Our tour guide Sullivan was very knowledgeable. We visited historical sites in Santa Barbara filled with so much rich history and places we never even knew were still part of this wonderful city of Santa Barbara. Sullivan gave us an insight on how this beautiful and hist...

August 2021

We stay in Santa Barbara quite frequently and stumbled on a private tour. We did not know what to expect but we do love history and checked it out. This 2 hour tour did not disappoint, Sullivan’s knowledge was very interesting, informative and kept us engaged. This walk through Santa Barbara ...

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from US$75.05 / per person