Where to stay in Santa Barbara

Where is the best area to stay in Santa Barbara?

Nestled between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific coast, one hour north of Los Angeles, lies the beautiful city of Santa Barbara. Wide beaches, sprawling golf courses, world-famous wineries, and flavorful food make this small city the ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation. With its Spanish colonial origins and mission at the city center, the city offers beautiful architecture, culture, and art. A small city with a population of approximately ninety thousand, and covering 42 square miles, Santa Barbara is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle.


In order to enjoy all that Santa Barbara has to offer, it is best to stay in West Beach, the most beautiful and centrally located area of Santa Baraba. This area is right on the coast and offers the best sunsets that the city has to offer. State Street, the main shopping and dining area of Santa Barbara and Stern’s Wharf, a wonderful spot to spend the afternoon, are both steps away. You can take a boat tour from the harbor, walk up state street for a day of shopping, explore the local architecture and gardens, or relax at the beach while staying in West Beach.

Hotel   Avg price
Harbor House Inn
104 Bath St
319€ - 341$
Inn by the Harbor
433 W Montecito St
325€ - 348$
Marina Beach Motel
21 Bath St
341€ - 365$
Mason Beach Inn
324 W Mason St
355€ - 380$
The Eagle Inn
232 Natoma Ave
363€ - 388$
West Beach Inn
306 W Cabrillo Blvd
368€ - 394$
Brisas Del Mar, Inn At The Beach
223 Castillo St
377€ - 403$
Hotel   Avg price
Hotel   Avg price
Hotel Californian
36 State St
844€ - 903$


On the map, which shows the most convenient area to stay in Santa Barbara, you can see a selection of some of the best located hotels.



If you are interested in where to stay in Santa Barbara, you may also be interested in where to stay in Los Angeles, where to stay in Monterey, where to stay in Palm Springs and where to stay in Anaheim.

West Beach, the best area to stay in Santa Barbara


First time, tourist, beach



West BeachWest Beach is the most beautiful and centrally located coastal area to stay in Santa Barbara. A few steps from east beach, and you can easily arrive at State Street, Santa Barbara’s upscale main street which is full of artfully designed stucco buildings with shopping, cafés, and restaurants.


West Beach is home to Stern’s Wharf, which is full of small tourist shops, food stands, and is even the starting point if you’d like to take a boat to the Channel Islands for whale watching. The boat ride to the Channel Islands is one of the most fun experiences you can have in Santa Barbara.


There is absolutely nothing like flying through the Pacific with dolphins jetting by the side of the boat and whales flipping their tails out of the water just a close distance away! Other areas a short drive or walk from West Beach include the Funk Zone, the zoo, the Santa Barbara Mission, and Shoreline Park.



Hotels in West Beach


Other areas to stay in Santa Barbara




State Street, shops, eateries



downtown area Santa Barbara

If you’d like to enjoy the artichture, art, and shopping that Santa Barbara has to offer, downtown is the area for you. State Street runs through the middle of downtown and offers an array of shopping options from Sax Fifth Avenue to American Eagle, to Brooks Brothers, to fun thrift shopping spots (check out Crossroads Trading co!).


This area also has some of the most beautiful architecture in the city, with the Spanish style courthouse right on State street. You can also walk to the Santa Barbara mission in about 30 minutes from this area which is a great activity for one day. You can visit the Santa Barbara Museum of art which lies just off of State Street and hosts Asian, American, and European art spanning 4,000 years.


Downtown also offers some of Santa Barbara’s best nightlife on State Street - check out EOS lounge for electronic music or Pearl Social for cocktails.



Hotels in Santa Barbara Downtown




Funk Zone


Wineries, galleries



Funk ZoneIf you want to eat and drink like a local, the Funk Zone is the place for you. This fun hipster neighborhood is one of the top areas that locals like to enjoy on the weekends.


You will find the best coffee, beer, and wine in Santa Barbara here. Start off your day with a delicious coffee and pastry at Dart Coffee. Dart coffee is a trendy coffee shop that has a variety of food and coffee options and has a beautiful outdoor garden for seating across the street from the main coffee shop.


If you’d like a place to explore local beer options, Lama Dog Taproom has a large array of tap beers, and for any wine lovers, Pali Wine Co has some outside wine tasting. The Funk Zone is also a short walk from the beach, so access to West Beach and East Beach are easy from here if you want the best of both worlds.



Hotels in the Funk Zone




East Beach


Outdoor activities, beach



East BeachEast Beach is adjacent to West Beach, and is a great area to stay as well. This area is a short one-mile walk from State Street, but offers easy access to the Funk Zone, wide beaches directly adjacent, and is a short walk from the Santa Barbara Zoo.


This is a great area to stay with children if you want something a bit quieter and away from any nightlife, but with easy access to attractions such as the Santa Barbara Zoo. If you are looking for a nice place to walk or run, walk on the trail that can be found on the beach and extends up Cabrillo Road.


You can also walk to Case Palm Park if you would like to hang out by the ocean. This is a wonderful place to set up a hammock and relax for an afternoon.



Hotels in East Beach









MontecitoDirectly east of the city you can find the lavish gardens and mansions of Montecito, the small town near Santa Barbara which is home to Oprah, Prince Harry and Meghan Markel, and Ellen DeGeneres among other celebrities.


This area is ideal for those looking for an upscale retreat and vacation location as well as anyone who is interested in some great hiking opportunities. If you decide to stay in their area, make sure to check out tangerine falls trail, which is a beautiful trail located in Montecito and has small waterfalls and views of the entire Santa Barbara area. To check out some of the best food and wine in the area, visit Coast Village Road, which offers the best cuisine and upscale shopping in the area.


Make sure to check out Bettina for some wonderful neapolitan pizza, Folded Hills wine tasting room, as well as the fun boutiques at Coast village road.



Hotels in Montecito






On a budget



GoletaIf you’re looking for a more authentic California experience away from the tourist crowds, a stay in Goleta might just be the place for you! It is only 10 miles east of the Santa Barbara airport, and free shuttles are running back and forth between Goleta and Santa Barbara.


You can have the best of both worlds by experiencing the nearby attractions and activities, but with a cheaper price tag since Goleta is more budget-friendly!


This is a great family-friendly destination with great accommodation options ranging from more laid-back hotels to upscale beach resorts. Visit the Goleta Beach Park and try your hand at fishing off the long pier, birdwatching, or have a family BBQ using the on-site grills and picnic tables. If DIY dining isn’t your thing, the nearby Beach-side Bar Cafe has great pacific views and serves up delicious local seafood.



Hotels in Goleta