Santa Barbara's history began with Portuguese and Spanish explorations as early as 1542. Spanish settlers claimed the area in 1782, but the Spanish period ended with the Mexican War of Independence in 1822. Santa Barbara's street names still reflect this period of its history. Today, Santa Barbara is home to several aerospace and defense companies. Tourism is also a major part of the city's economy. Popular year-round tourist attractions include the historic Stearns Wharf, the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, and a handful of museums. The world-class dining and shopping options are also big draws.
Whatever your reason for visiting Santa Barbara, it's important to find the right hotel so you can enjoy everything this beautiful seaside city has to offer.
When to Visit Santa Barbara, CA
As far as the weather is concerned, there really isn't a bad time to visit Santa Barbara. Winter highs rarely dip below 65 degrees, and summer temperatures tend to top out around 76 degrees. A year-round mild climate is great for tourism, but it can also mean higher hotel rates during peak seasons. The summer months tend to be crowded as travelers fly in for the area's pristine beaches, outdoor recreation, and events. There's little rainfall during this time, but June brings with it a lot of fog, which is why locals refer to it as “June Gloom.” If you're visiting during the summer, you may get to experience the Summer Solstice Celebration, the Santa Barbara French Festival, and Old Spanish Days Fiesta. Just keep in mind, though, that you'll be paying a premium for your accommodations.
Summer crowds and room rates both lessen by September. You'll experience some of the best hotel prices from September through November, coupled with great weather, but be prepared for strong winds.
The winter season is pleasant, but Santa Barbara does experience its most precipitation between December and February. This means it's not ideal for sightseeing or beach activities, but if you're visiting the city for its museums and other indoor attractions, you won't even notice. Winter is also the time when hotel rates are at their lowest.
Spring is one of the best times to visit Santa Barbara. The summer crowds have yet to form but there's plenty of sunshine, making it the perfect time to explore the city's outdoor spaces. You can also experience a broad range of events, including the Santa Barbara International Orchid Festival, the Santa Barbara Vintners Spring Weekend, Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, and I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Santa Barbara, CA:
Averate Rates by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts displaying average nightly cost trends by star rating class in Santa Barbara, CA. Analyze these illustrations to evaluate the best time to book a room in Santa Barbara for upcoming travels.
Luxury Hotel Options in Santa Barbara, CA
4 Star Average Prices: $212.77
Prefer upscale accommodations during your stay in Santa Barbara? The city offers several unique alternatives, including San Ysidro Ranch. Set on 500 acres just off Highway 101, San Ysidro Ranch is an upscale boutique hotel that dates to 1893. In fact, it's the place where John and Jackie Kennedy had their honeymoon.
The ranch features bungalow-style cottages and suites that are individually decorated with antique furnishings, such as crystal chandeliers and Persian rugs. Guests can enjoy their own personal patio, fireplace, flat screen TV, complimentary Wi-Fi, Nespresso machine, and outdoor hot tub. The property features two restaurants, one of which serves up regional cuisine made from produce grown right here, plus a fitness center and pool.
If the ranch is a little too steep for your price range, consider the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Set on 22 acres, this sophisticated resort was built in a colonial Spanish style right on the ocean. Guest rooms include free Wi-Fi and flat screen TVs, while upgraded rooms add pull-out sofas. A suite will get you a separate living space and dining area, as well as access to the property's beach club. The resort offers a paid buffet breakfast, two on-site restaurants, a cocktail lounge, and poolside café and bar.
Another premier Santa Barbara hotel is Belmond El Encanto. This five-star property is set among seven acres of lush gardens on a private hillside in the Riviera neighborhood, allowing you to unwind in style. Guest rooms feature marble bathrooms with heated floors, iPod docking stations, HDTVs, and free Wi-Fi. Upgrade to a suite, and you'll get a private outdoor space and fireplace. All guests can enjoy the outdoor infinity pool, spa, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.
Affordable Hotel Options in Santa Barbara, CA
3 Star Average Prices: $191.47
Finding an affordable hotel in Santa Barbara is easier than you might think. IHSP Santa Barbara hostel offers budget-friendly student accommodations ideal for backpackers. The dorm-style rooms are within walking distance to the beach and downtown, plus you can choose between a mixed or female-only dorm. Amenities include free linens, Wi-Fi, breakfast, free local calling, and free parking.
The Orange Tree Inn on State Street is an 11-minute walk from the Old Mission Santa Barbara, placing it in a good location for sightseeing. This two-star budget hotel features simple rooms with desks, flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, and balconies. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the lobby, and guests can take advantage of the heated outdoor pool.
Also on State Street, Oasis Inn & Suites Santa Barbara provides easy access to Santa Barbara Harbor and the Earl Warren Showgrounds. This low-rise budget property features casual rooms with premium TV channels, Wi-Fi, microwaves, and mini fridges. Upgrading to a suite will get you a pull-out sofa or fireplace and a full kitchen. Other amenities include free morning coffee, continental breakfast, and a courtyard pool.
Additional affordable hotel choices in Santa Barbara include Quality Inn, Sunset Motel, Rose Garden Inn, and Lemon Tree Inn.