There are some things everyone knows about Santa Barbara—the weather is great, the beaches are beautiful, the people are happy, etc. But there are other, lesser known facts that make this city more than just pretty. Here’s our list of 5 surprising facts about Santa Barbara:

The Home Of Earth Day

Today, Earth Day is celebrated in cities across the nation. A  little known fact is that Santa Barbara was actually the inspiration for the very first Earth Day back in 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson saw pictures of the 1969 oil spill that devastated the SB coastline and felt called to action. He visited the city shortly after, founded Earth Day with the newly organized Community Environmental Center, and the rest is history!

The Santa Barbara Mission

There are so many fascinating historical facts about the Santa Barbara Mission that it is hard to chose to just one. First, it is the only mission with twin bell towers. It was built by Spanish Franciscans to convert Chumash Indians to Catholicism. Interestingly, it is the only mission today that has been actively and consistently run by the Franciscans from founding in 1786 to present. It is home to one of the largest collections of early Franciscan sheet music. Last, it is estimated that around 4,000 Chumash Indians are buried in the grounds cemetery, including Juana Maria, the woman of the true story popularized in the novel Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Moreton Bay Fig Tree

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree is hard to miss in Santa Barbara—located next to the Downtown train station on Montecito Street—it is ginormous. In fact, it is the largest of its kind of all of the U.S.! Brought here from Australia in 1876, it has now grown to over 80 feet tall with an almost 200 foot wide canopy. As a designated California Historical Landmark, this is a worthy stop on your next visit.


UCSB is almost universally adored by its students for countless reasons. Again, there are tons of interesting facts to chose from, so we’ll just name a few. First, UCSB has a reputation for being a major party town (3rd in the nation at this point), but it is also ranked in the top universities for many of its programs as well, mostly in research science. It is also one of the most environmentally friendly universities due to the high volume of cyclists; an estimated 14,000 bikers traverse its paths every day. Lastly, and perhaps most impressive, the faculty here includes 6 Nobel Prize Laureates!


If you follow Hollywood lifestyle at all, you’ll know that Santa Barbara is a favorite destination among the rich and famous. More interesting, though, are the celebrities who were actually born and raised here; for whatever reason, SB seems to have a propensity for creating stars. Most notably: Katy Perry, Jack Johnson, Anthony Edwards, and musical groups Toad the Wet Sprocket, Dishwalla and Rebelution all come from Santa Barbara.