Santa Barbara Travel Guide

USA  #13 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
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Getting Around Santa Barbara

The best way to get around Santa Barbara is on foot. Most of the main attractions, shops and restaurants are all located within a 3-mile radius in the downtown area. Santa Barbara is also known for its green transportation options and car free program that provides walking maps and alternative means of transportation like the various bus and shuttle systems around the city.

To get to Santa Barbara, there are a few options. The closest major airport is Los Angeles International (LAX), about 90 miles southeast of the city. Santa Barbara also has a regional airport (SBA) that receives flights from a few major airlines through six major cities, including Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Denver. Amtrak also runs two routes through Santa Barbara. The city is also relatively easy to get to by car, too, since it's right off the U.S. Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway.

No matter which mode of transportation you take to get into town, whether it be bus, train or car, the public transportation station and the Pacific Coast Highway run right through downtown.

On Foot

Santa Barbara prides itself on being accessible by foot. The city center is built up around the historic architecture and sites that make Santa Barbara unique, including art galleries and museums. State Street is the hub of activity with open-air shops and restaurants that you can meander through on your way to the coastline.

If your feet do get tired, you'll also find pedicabs in the downtown and waterfront areas that can accommodate two adults as well as a few small children. Prices usually vary depending on the length of the ride and number of passengers.

Car 

To explore the suburbs or the Santa Barbara wine country northwest of the city, you'll need your own set of wheels. However, some tours companies do include transportation.

If you decide to rent a car or drive to Santa Barbara, there is no shortage of public parking in the downtown area and by the waterfront. Even better, the first 75 minutes are free of charge (and it's only $1.50 for each hour after that). You can also buy prepaid parking cards that are available in $30 increments.

Bus 

Known for its green attitude toward transportation, the small city has multiple public transportation options. The MTD Santa Barbara operates 25 routes that run all over the city

Keeping with the city's love of eco-friendly public transportation, MTD also offers a Downtown-Waterfront electric shuttle that takes passengers from State Street to the waterfront attractions like the zoo and Santa Barbara Harbor. Standard fare for bus routes is $1.75 one-way while the shuttle routes are only 50 cents one-way. Schedules vary depending on line, check out MTD's website for more information. Trolley tours are also available to see the sights from the Old Mission Santa Barbara to East Beach.

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