A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Cape Cod vs. Santa Barbara for Beaches, Hiking, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Cape Cod and Santa Barbara. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod is a peaceful, relaxing, and laid-back beach destination. This is a great small town that is just waiting to be explored. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. This is an attractive and quaint destination worth visiting as well. Other popular activities here include food, beaches, and hiking.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a stunning, wealthy, and opulent coastal town. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Cape Cod and Santa Barbara: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less hiking options
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Santa Barbara. Although Cape Cod and Santa Barbara are popular destinations, Santa Barbara has more sights and attractions for tourists. Santa Barbara is very popular for its museums, nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, historical sights, hiking, shopping, big city activities, and impressive beauty, while Cape Cod attracts visitors for its small town charm and quaint atmosphere. Cape Cod is famous for its long scenic coastline, charming compact towns, and magnificent migrating whales. Santa Barbara is famous for its historic missions, pristine beaches, world-class surfing, and scenic hikes that are full of coastal views. It is also well known for The Old Mission Santa Barbara.

How is Cape Cod different from Santa Barbara?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Santa Barbara and Cape Cod. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is great for its historical sights. However, Cape Cod does not have museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Santa Barbara. The city is famous for its missions, with Mission Santa Barbara being the most iconic. Also visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center.

Cape Cod does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Dining out at restaurants in both Cape Cod and Santa Barbara can be an enjoyable experience.

Cape Cod has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. The region is famous for its fresh seafood and popular dishes include the fried clams and broiled lobster. There are also many diners and brunch cafes where you can enjoy pancakes or eggs benedict.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Santa Barbara makes for a great culinary experience. The city is best known for its fine dining, particularly if you enjoy seafood. The scallops, oysters, clam chowder, and sea urchin (when available) are all world class. Head for a waterfront setting for the best views and some of the freshest seafood.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Nightlife?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Cape Cod is not a good destination for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Santa Barbara has a few options to choose from. For the best nightlife in the city, head downtown to State Street. This is where you'll find the most active bars and biggest crowds. There's a large student population in town, so you'll find much of the nightlife scene is focused on the younger population.

People don't go to Cape Cod for the nightlife. This area isn't really known for its nightlife, but the downtown of Hyannis has some activity at night.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Resorts?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is great for its luxury resorts. Also, Cape Cod is not as popular, but is still a nice beach destination for its resorts.

There are plenty of resorts in Santa Barbara to choose from. Many people enjoy the luxurious vacation rentals around Santa Barbara, but there are also a number of high end resorts including the Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort, The Ritz-Carlton, and Hotel Californian.

Cape Cod has a handful of resorts to choose from. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, White Elephant Resorts, and Chatham Bars Inn are favorite resorts in the Cape Cod area.


Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is adequate for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Cape Cod is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

There are few places where you can go snorkeling in Santa Barbara. Snorkeling areas not far from town include Refugio State Beach and Tajiguas. You'll see a few fish, beautiful rocks, and anemones that are unique and impressive.

Cape Cod is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Beaches?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an unbeatable place for the beach. Also, Cape Cod is not as popular, but is still a nice beach destination for its beaches.

Santa Barbara offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. The city is famous for its pristine, sandy beaches. Whether you want to enjoy world class surfing or enjoy a gentle ocean setting, Santa Barbara has many options.

Cape Cod is considered a top beach destination. Beaches in the area include long stretches of soft sand as well as tidal pools where kids can play. Several of the best beaches around Cape Cod include Mayflower Beach, Marconi Beach, and Race Point Beach.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for its Old Town?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a good destination for its historic old town charm. However, Cape Cod does not have a historic old town.

Santa Barbara has an old town worth visiting. The city's downtown "Old Town" is a high end, pedestrian-friendly area with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Cape Cod does not have a historic old town.


Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Hiking?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an unbeatable place for hiking. Also, Cape Cod is not as popular, but is still a nice beach destination for the nearby hiking options.

Santa Barbara is well-known for its hiking and trekking. Just outside of town are countless hiking opportunities that offer spectacular ocean views. Popular hikes include Inspiration Point, San Ysidro Trail, and Cold Spring East Fork.

Cape Cod is a good destination for hiking. Hikes range from casual strolls to longer trails. Popular options include Bass Hole Boardwalk in Yarmouth and the 22 mile Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an unbeatable place for its shopping areas. Also, Cape Cod is not as popular, but is still a nice beach destination for shopping.

Many people travel to Santa Barbara specifically to go shopping. The city is famous as a high end shopping destination. Head to State Street for a palm tree lined street with local boutiques.

Cape Cod is an extremely popular place for shoppers. Many of the area's towns have charming Main Streets where you can enjoy shopping and dining.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Families?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Both Cape Cod and Santa Barbara are superb family-friendly destinations.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Cape Cod. The coastal towns have a number of kid-friendly activities. In the Upper Cape, Falmouth is one of the best towns for families. On Mid Cape, Dennis and Yarmouth are both kid-friendly. Dennis has a resorty vibe and Yarmouth has kid-friendly museums. On the Lower Cape, both Harwich and Orleans are family-friendly options.

Santa Barbara is a very family-friendly place to visit. The city has some nice family-friendly activities including a zoo, some cool museums, and even whale watching. There are also many beautiful beaches where everyone can run around and play, as well as parks and other outdoor settings. For animal-lovers, there are wildlife centers and sea life opportunities.


Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Couples?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an unbeatable place for couples. Also, Cape Cod is not as popular, but is still a nice beach destination for romance.

Santa Barbara is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. The town is a stunningly beautiful destination with beautiful beaches, excellent shopping, and nice resorts that make for a great honeymoon or romantic trip.

Cape Cod is a very popular place to visit for couples. With its charming character and relaxing beach setting, honeymooners and couples will appreciate all that the area has to offer. There are peaceful settings and charming villages to explore. There are also award-winning restaurants and beautiful views.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Students?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is great for its student-friendly activities. However, Cape Cod is not popular with students.

Many students visit Santa Barbara. With a major university right in town, there's plenty of student life that international students or locals can enjoy.

Cape Cod is not popular with students.

Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Cape Cod is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Santa Barbara offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. Transit options include buses, trolleys and water taxis.

Public transit is generally limited in Cape Cod. While there are buses and shuttles to help you get around, a car really is necessary to explore the area.


Is Cape Cod or Santa Barbara a more walkable city?

Cape Cod
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is great for its ease of walking around. Also, Cape Cod is not as popular, but is still a nice beach destination for its walkability.

Santa Barbara is a very walkable destination. The downtown area is very pedestrian-friendly and best explored on foot.

Cape Cod is somewhat walkable. Many of the small towns in the area have compact and walkable areas, but the region is spread out so it's helpful to have a car to get from place to place.

For even more information, also check out Is Cape Cod Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Barbara Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Barbara or Cape Cod?

How long in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Cape Cod and Santa Barbara. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Cape Cod than in Santa Barbara. Usually, 5-7 days is a good amount of time for Cape Cod, and 2-3 days is enough time in Santa Barbara.

Families should spend more time in Santa Barbara than Cape Cod. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Santa Barbara, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Santa Barbara than Cape Cod. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Santa Barbara that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Santa Barbara than Cape Cod if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Santa Barbara.


  • How many days in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cape Cod 5-7 
    Santa Barbara 2-3

One day in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Even though Cape Cod is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Your budget might influence how long you stay. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

The beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara offers food and shopping. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Cape Cod. Most people come for the beaches. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Santa Barbara is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this coastal town makes for a great vacation. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Santa Barbara, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.


Five days in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Cape Cod is a small town with plenty to do. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. This beach destination offers a variety of activities to choose from. If you have five days, this is a great place to go. Five days is usually enough time to experience most activities.

Santa Barbara is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Cape Cod might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling.So, one week is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Santa Barbara is a great place to explore. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This coastal town offers something for everyone.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in United States of America, The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, and The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Barbara or Cape Cod?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cape Cod is $183, while the average daily cost in Santa Barbara is $162. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cape Cod and Santa Barbara in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cape Cod $92
    Santa Barbara $88
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cape Cod $184
    Santa Barbara $176
Compare Hotels in Cape Cod and Santa Barbara

Looking for a hotel in Cape Cod or Santa Barbara? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Cape Cod


Hotels in Santa Barbara


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Santa Barbara Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cape Cod $50
    Santa Barbara $42

Is it cheaper to fly into Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Prices for flights to both Santa Barbara and Cape Cod change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Cape Cod $60
    Santa Barbara $46

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cape Cod $27
    Santa Barbara $27

Tours and Activities in Cape Cod

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Cape Cod.

  • Cape Cod Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • The Anne Hutchinson Tour of Provincetown: $30
  • Plymouth Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Mayflower Trolley Tour!: $36
  • 3-Hour Private Sightseeing Outdoor Escape Game in Eastham: $39
  • National Seashore Tour with Guided Hike: $65
  • Truro Cape Cod Lighthouse and Highland House Museum Tour: $65
  • Kayak The Creek Nature Tour: $80
  • Cape Cod Explorer Tour: $80
  • Cape Cod Sunset Kayak Tour: $80
  • Private Open-Air Pedicab Tour in Provincetown: $117
  • Private Province Town Pedicab Tour: $149

Tours and Activities in Santa Barbara

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Santa Barbara are as follows:

  • 2- Hour Pottery Workshop and Studio Tour in Ojai: $65
  • 5 STARS: "Where The Locals Go!" Nature-History Tour: $95
  • City & Sand Electric Bike Tour: $105
  • Coastline Kayak Tour near Santa Barbara with Knowledgeable Guide: $122
  • Downtown SB Walking Food & Drink Tour: $175
  • Epic Zipline Tour Over The Santa Ynez Valley: $139
  • Guided Kayak Wildlife Tour in the Santa Barbara Harbor: $55
  • Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide: $55
  • Montecito Electric Bike Tour Along Santa Barbara Scenic Coastline: $105
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Santa Barbara, CA: $15
  • Private Helicopter Tour in Santa Barbara: $149
  • Private Santa Barbara History and Architecture Walking Tour: $99

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cape Cod $19
    Santa Barbara $12

Typical Alcohol Prices in Santa Barbara

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Santa Barbara:


  • Camping
    $20

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Barbara

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Santa Barbara:

  • Paranormal Pairing: Wine Tasting Walk with Ghost Storytelling: $105
  • Solvang Valley Small Group All-Inclusive Wine Tour : $185
  • Santa Ynez Valley Biking and Wine Tasting Tour: $194
  • All-Inclusive Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Ynez Valley: $199
  • 6 hour Private Wine Tour of Santa Barbara County : $199
  • Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour: $215
  • ‚ÄčAll-Inclusive Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Barbara: $219
  • Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country: $235
  • Santa Barbara Small-Group Wine Tour to Private Estates & Wineries: $235
  • Small-Group Wine Tour to Private Locations in Santa Barbara : $235
  • Taco Tour & Wine Tasting Funk Zone Santa Barbara: $245
  • Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Wine Tour (We Drive Your Vehicle): $300


When comparing the travel costs between Cape Cod and Santa Barbara, we can see that Cape Cod is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Cape Cod Expensive? and Is Santa Barbara Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Cape Cod or Santa Barbara?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Cape Cod or Santa Barbara in the Summer?

Both Santa Barbara and Cape Cod during the summer are popular places to visit. The beaches, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Cape Cod this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Santa Barbara for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences.

Cape Cod is around the same temperature as Santa Barbara in the summer. The daily temperature in Cape Cod averages around 68°F (20°C) in July, and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 65°F (19°C).

Cape Cod usually gets more rain in July than Santa Barbara. Cape Cod gets 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Cape Cod 68°F (20°C) 
    Santa Barbara 65°F (19°C)

Should I visit Cape Cod or Santa Barbara in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Cape Cod and Santa Barbara. Many travelers come to Cape Cod for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Furthermore, many visitors come to Santa Barbara in the autumn for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Cape Cod is cooler than Santa Barbara. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Cape Cod in October average around 53°F (12°C), and Santa Barbara averages at about 62°F (17°C).

Cape Cod gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In October, Cape Cod usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. Cape Cod gets 4.4 inches (111 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0.5 inches (13 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Cape Cod 53°F (12°C) 
    Santa Barbara 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Cape Cod or Santa Barbara in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Cape Cod as well as Santa Barbara. Many visitors come to Cape Cod in the winter for the shopping scene and the cuisine. Additionally, most visitors come to Santa Barbara for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months.

Cape Cod can get quite cold in the winter. In January, Cape Cod is generally much colder than Santa Barbara. Daily temperatures in Cape Cod average around 31°F (-0°C), and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).

Cape Cod receives a lot of rain in the winter. Cape Cod usually gets more rain in January than Santa Barbara. Cape Cod gets 4.2 inches (106 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Cape Cod 31°F (-0°C) 
    Santa Barbara 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Cape Cod or Santa Barbara in the Spring?

Both Santa Barbara and Cape Cod are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Cape Cod for the beaches, the small town charm, and the natural beauty during these months. Also, the spring months attract visitors to Santa Barbara because of the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

Cape Cod is much colder than Santa Barbara in the spring. The daily temperature in Cape Cod averages around 45°F (7°C) in April, and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 57°F (14°C).

It's quite rainy in Cape Cod. In April, Cape Cod usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. Cape Cod gets 4.1 inches (103 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 1.1 inches (27 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Cape Cod 45°F (7°C) 
    Santa Barbara 57°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Barbara and Cape Cod

Cape Cod Santa Barbara
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 31°F (-0°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 32°F (-0°C) 4.6 inches (117 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Mar 38°F (3°C) 4 inches (102 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Apr 45°F (7°C) 4.1 inches (103 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
May 53°F (12°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Jun 62°F (17°C) 3.6 inches (91 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jul 68°F (20°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 65°F (19°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 68°F (20°C) 3.1 inches (78 mm) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 62°F (17°C) 4.2 inches (106 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm)
Oct 53°F (12°C) 4.4 inches (111 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm)
Nov 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
Dec 36°F (2°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)