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Santa Barbara's Funk Zone

You'll find Elvis memorabilia, toasted baguette sandwiches, surf souvenirs, and fine wines in the beach town's eclectic neighborhood.

couple tasting wine at Municipal Winemakers' in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone, image
Photo caption
Municipal Winemakers' wins friends with pours of syrahs and cabernets amid old file cabinets and schoolroom desks.

Among the many California beach towns, manicured Santa Barbara seems an unlikely place for a neighborhood called the Funk Zone. But this once industrial area near the Santa Barbara beach is thriving with things to do, fueled by hip wineries, arty cafés, surf shops, and eclectic museums. Area code is 805.

  • Elvis’s Saint Christopher medal from the movie Jailhouse Rock is just one of many rarities at the Santa Barbara Surfing Museum, a trove of album covers, ukuleles, guitars—even a limited-edition copy of Renny Yater’s board from Apocalypse Now. 962-9048,
  • The Harissa Bomb, a toasted baguette sandwich at lively Metropulos Fine Foods Merchant, explodes with the flavors of smoked turkey, Tunisian pepper spread, chipotle aioli, and melted Jack cheese. 899-2300,
  • The swirly mural of a busty mermaid at Mermaid’s Chest beckons browsers to discover vintage glassware, tea sets, turquoise jewelry,jean jackets, porkpie hats, crocodile belts, and strappy 1940s and ’50s shoes. 966-1915.
  • Dark Red, made in tiny lots from syrah and cabernet, is poured amid old file cabinets and schoolroom desks at Municipal Winemakers, one of 17 tasting rooms on the Urban Wine Trail. 931-6864,
  • At Surf n’ Wear’s Beach House, every board and sweatshirt radiates an aura of California surfing history. 963-1281,
  • Photography by Cara Robbins

    This article was first published in November 2012, but updated in November 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.