Discover La Arcada

by Courtney Dietz March 10, 2014

Santa Barbara has no shortage of paseos, or ambling, often artistic, passages and promenades that connect spaces. The prevalence of our Spanish Colonial architecture lends itself well to these walkways throughout town. And while many are even unknown to locals, perhaps the most picturesque is the outdoor mall called La Arcada.

Photo Credit: Courtney Dietz

Just off State Street (Santa Barbara’s Main Street) between Anapamu and Figueroa Streets is a gem of a destination. La Arcada was designed in 1926 by architect Myron Hunt and is dripping with charm and details. Today many businesses are lucky to call the upstairs of this incredible building their home. The tile-lined La Arcada boasts sidewalk cafes, an art gallery, barber shop (complete with barber’s pole), a chocolatier and more. But the real find is the density of art tucked into this historic paseo.

Photo Credit: Bill Zeldis

A few of the more prominent art pieces include:

  • Statue of a grandpa and girl with a doll  - One of many lifelike statues in the area of the series Celebrating the Familiar by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. (grandson of the co-founder of Johnson & Johnson)
  • Rockin’ Dolphin – A playful dolphin made by local artist Bud Bottoms, who also designed the Dolphin Fountain where State Street ends at the ocean. These dolphins are loved affectionately by children of all ages, bronze noses polished to a sheen from curious fingers.

Photo Credit: Bill Zeldis

  • Mozart trio – An interactive piece by Bonifatius Stirnberg, a German sculptor, where each of the three musicians features movable parts.

Photo Credit: Courtney Dietz

  • Red telephone box – A public payphone housed in the iconic design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, perhaps out of place in Santa Barbara and better know throughout the United Kingdom, but clearly adding a bit of colorful whimsy to the space.


Courtney Dietz
Courtney Dietz

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