Reagan Ranch Center, Santa Barbara
||Santa Barbara, CA|
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There are some things you need to know about the Reagan Ranch Center before you come out to it. It's not where Reagan's ranch is located, but is on the main street of Santa Barbara in a three-storey building by the freeway. So you won't get to see the ranch, only photos of it. Another thing to know is that it's a museum tied up with a foundation, and there's a bit of a feeling like they are trying to convert you to be part of the foundation. For example, you have to fill out your address and contact info on a computer when you arrive, and there is plenty of talk about grabbing brochures or buying books at the end, plus many of the exhibits have a Christian flavor. The aim of the foundation is to introduce young people to conservative values through campus visits. The foundation stepped in to save Reagan's ranch and now uses it for conferences.
The museum is housed in three storeys in the Reagan Ranch Center. It is not recommended for children, as there is nothing interactive for them to do. You have to be part of a tour to look around. This museum is mostly interesting if you love horses and ranches, or are particularly interested in President Reagan and his daily routines. If you are more interested in his life as a president and leader, I recommend the amazing Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is good for kids to visit.
On the lower level of the Reagan Ranch Center is a portrait of Reagan with his white horse, plus a wonderful piece of the Berlin Wall, covered in graffiti. On the second level are listening stations with headphones, plus exhibits about the secret service on the ranch, ranch life and horses, Reagan's vehicle, the books Reagan read, the large tax cut document and the table it was signed on, and Reagan's radio broadcast.
On the third level are some fun exhibits about his fans and his correspondence with them, his campaign pins and posters, plus some of his favorite paintings from the ranch.
Some of the events that occurred at the ranch are: the signing of the Economic Recovery Tax Act, the firing of 11,359 striking air-traffic controllers (wow, it seems like flights would be dangerous after this), Reagan's response to the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, and Reagan's recovery from an assassination attempt which occurred a month after he came into office.
The docents are friendly and pleasant to listen to, though I always get kind of ansy when I'm part of a tour. I'd prefer to wander around by myself reading the information at each exhibit.
Afterward, walk a few blocks to Stearns Wharf for inspiring, memorable views! There is a Rusty's Pizza just south of the Reagan Ranch Center. Or if you walk north under the freeway you will come to many restaurants on State Street. Right when you come out from under the freeway, if you cross the street, you will come to Casa Blanca Restaurant and Dawn Patrol Cafe, plus a rock-climbing gym.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
Reagan Ranch Center is located at 217 State Street, Santa Barbara CA 93101, call (805) 957-1980. The closest parking is at the Amtrak train station, which is free for the first 75 minutes and then $1.50 an hour. The address for the train station parking is 209 State Street.
The center is open Monday-Thursday 11-4.
Entrance is free.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.