The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a lovely mission-style building that was rebuilt in the 1920's (as much of Santa Barbara was after a 1925 earthquake). It still has county offices and is used for some trials.
In the front over the entrance, is an 85 foot clock tower that has an observation deck. An 85 foot observation deck doesn't sound like much, but you absolutely must go there and see it. The observation deck provides an incredible vantage point from all directions....the Santa Ynez mountains, the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, the red tile roofs and palm trees of downtown Santa Barbara, and the perfect gardens all around the courthouse.
If your visit is in the afternoon, visit the clock tower observation deck first, since it closes at 4:45pm. But take time to stop on the second floor and look at the inside of the courthouse. There are historic rooms and beautiful corridors. There is a historical courtroom that has incredible hand-painted murals on the walls that chronicle the history of Santa Barbara and detailed ceiling murals, and throughout the building there is beautiful hand-painted tile along the walls and lining the stairs. There is also a small old jail, and ruins from the original courthouse.
Even if you don't enjoy history or architecture, the Santa Barbara County Courthouse is a must-see....for the views from the clock tower observation deck of the beautiful area in the beautiful weather.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is located in downtown Santa Barbara at 1100 Anacapa Street. To get there, take Highway 101 or Castillo Street to State Street and go east toward the mountains. At Figueroa Street turn right, and go one block. There are several very nice public parks within a block of the courthouse. You can drive or take the State Street shuttle bus ($0.25) to State Street and Figueroa, and walk a block south.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is an excellent no cost activity. Don't miss it. Their phone number is 805-962-6464.