It's very easy to get around in Santa Barbara. If you stay downtown, get around by just about anywhere. We stayed at the Canary Hotel, which is right in the heart of downtown, and close to tons of restaurants, bars and shops. Even the Santa Barbara Bowl is an easy walk, just over a mile. There are bicycle rickshaws all over town, and a small electric bus line that runs up and down State Street if you feel like giving your legs a rest.
RockStar Transportation does pick ups in LAX in luxury SUVs. They have an Audi Q7 and a Cadillac, both super nice and new cars.
Pick ups and drop offs are about $250. Good for families who would have taken SB Airbus. Cars hold 5-6 passengers. Privacy and convenience since they'll drop you off at home and pick you up at all hours.
Super friendly, and they keep an eye on your flight so if you're running late or early they already know.
I found Santa Barbara to be extremely easy to get around. I stayed at the Canary Hotel, which is right in the heart of town, and easy walking to tons of restaurants, bars, shops. I had tickets to a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and contemplated driving, but it turned out to be an easy walk, just over a mile (SB is relatively flat). There are bicycle rickshaws all over town, and a small electric bus line that runs up and down State, which is handy to get to the beach.
Anyway, be prepared to park the car and leave it for a few days.
I like the fact they have water taxi's here. These are a fun way to spend the day enjoying the sun and water. Plus they have some wonderful tours for everyone. The Sunset Cruises sounds awesome.
Please check web site or call to be sure of current schedules and fares fees.
Fares & Schedule
$4.00 for adults
$1.00 for children
Trips every half-hour between the Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf daily:
12:00 pm to 6:00 pm (Summer)
12:00pm to Sunset (Winter)
Trips are weather permitting
12:00 pm to 6:00 pm on the hour and on the half hour
Stearns Wharf Departures:
12:15 pm to 5:45 pm on the quarter and three quarter hour
They have parking on the pier, but the spots were prime. Parking map of the pier.
ATTENDANT PARKING SYSTEM
First 90 Minutes Free With Stearns Wharf Merchant Validation
No In and Out Privileges
143 single vehicle stalls
7 ADA parking stalls
2 E-plate stalls
6 Motorcycle stalls
We found this parking lot and at the time it had plenty of parking. Although it was very crowded at the beach and the arts show, there was still lots of parking spots available. It was only $3.00 for 3 hours which was plenty of time to explore the pier.
East Cabrillo Street Parking
Without the car, The Santa Barbara Air Bus is the next convenient way to get to S.B. especially from the airport (LAX ). There are just 3 stops for duration of travel: Goleta, Carpintera (greater S.B. county) and Santa Barabra. Pickup at LAX is at the Green Pickup signs on the lower level.
Fares for the ride are $44 a person, one-way, pre-paid (way cheaper than a taxi surely!). The more passengers, the better. For 2 people, costs are just $76 one way, pre-paid. Costs are slightly more if paying at the time of travel. Check website for more info. Paying in advance can be done on-line or by calling.
Accomodations are great on the Air Bus. Persons in wheelchairs have to make a 2 day advance notice of travel. Pets can even ride on board. they can ride for free if contained in a small carrier. If not contained, they are charged a passenger ticket.
Also of note:
There are wonderful excursions that the Air Bus takes throughout the year, well beyond LAX. Notable highlights are roundtrips from S.B. to San Francisco and S.B. Rose Parade in Pasadena.
There is no power hookup on board but laptop use is allowed.
2 bags and a small carry-on are the max for luggage on board. Extra bags are charged extra cost.
Overall, the bus is comfortable: great plush seats, roomy and well air-conditioned. Tips are welcomed but not mandatory.
Physical address of the S.B. bus terminal is :
Santa Barbara Airbus
5755 Thornwood Drive
Goleta, CA 93117-3801
If you are hanging around Santa Barbara, most of the sites are close enough that you can walk. You can rent bicycles for a reasonable price and cycle around the area for a healthy alternative.
If you want to get from State Street to the Waterfront area, there is a service called the Downtown Waterfront Shuttle which charges 25 cents for the ride. Parking is readily available in Santa Barbara and the taxi service is also quick and affordable.
Most guides say it is a 2.5 hour drive, what they don’t tell you is with traffic, it could take up to 3 or 4 hours to get there. For a less scenic route, take the 405 North to 101 north, without traffic, it should take about 2 hours. On the way back, with a longer drive you can take the 101 south to PCH south. This drive takes you from Santa Barbara all the way back to LA along the coast. You will pass by Malibu and Santa Monica with some amazing ocean views.
We left LA around 6:30 PM as the sun was getting low in the sky for the ride up to Santa Barbara. We could have taken a quicker route but why do that when you can go up the coast and right by Malibu? So, it took about two hours right up 100 miles of the Pacific Highway. There was no time for stopping and taking photos, that was time well-spent with G in LA but it being spring, it remained light for the whole trip.
When we left, it was 200 miles to Big Sur but that was a drive to take at a leisurely pace, stopping often. It is a winding, mountainous coastal road so even if driving with not stops it would take you over four hours.
There were few worries, we knew we would be driving up not only most of the California coast in the ensuing weeks but the entire coast of the United States.
Arrive at Mediterranian-style Santa Barbara Airport, take a cab to your hotel. At night call my son
David Bang 455-8180, he's the best cab driver with a sense of humor and has over 20 yrs. experience in Santa Barbara.
During the daytime you must take the electric buses for 25¢ on fascinating State Street to the waterfront and zoo.
Its very convenient to take the train. Beautiful view along the coast. Fare is approximately $64.00 roundtrip coming from Orange County. An advice i could give is never travel during holidays! Fare rates are higher and the trains are so crowded, seats are very hard to find.
The bus system in Santa Barbara is a great way to get around and see the city at the same time! The buses are very clean and safe. In 2007 the SBMTD introduced new bio diesel buses, so they are also better for the environment! The fare is $1.25 one way. Check out the website for times and routes
The Santa Barbara Old Town Trolley Co. has tours that operate daily to see the sites of the city. A bus built like an old time trolley, leaves Stearns Wharf or the old Mission, hourly, starting at 10 am till 4 pm and lets you see the sites of Santa Barbara in the comfort of an open trolley. Adults are $21 per person day pass and children (12 and under) $8 each for day pass. Tickets are available on-board.
OK, your visiting Santa Barbara and the kids want to do something. Take them on a peddle surrey with a fringe on top. Fun way to see the oceanfront from the Zoo, to the Carousel, to Stearns Wharf, to the Maritime Museum, and beyond. Located at 22 State Street, near Stearns Wharf. Open daily 8am-8pm.