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

Should you visit Duck or Santa Barbara?

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

Should I visit Duck or Santa Barbara? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Duck

Duck is a compact, charming, and laid-back beach town. This is a great small town that is just waiting to be explored. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. Other popular activities here include food, beaches, and hiking.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a wealthy, opulent, and pristine coastal town. Since it's a large city, you'll find plenty of things to do. You'll find world class beauty here as well. This is a quaint and attractive place to visit, too. It's also known for nightlife, food, and beaches.

Duck and Santa Barbara: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • 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 Duck or Santa Barbara?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Santa Barbara than Duck, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Santa Barbara is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, historical sights, hiking, shopping, big city activities, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Duck is more popular for its small town charm. Duck is well known for its quaint atmosphere and small town charm. Santa Barbara is well known for its historic missions, pristine beaches, world-class surfing, and scenic hikes that are full of coastal views. Also, Santa Barbara is famous for The Old Mission Santa Barbara.

How is Duck different from Santa Barbara?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Duck is not a good beach town for its museums and history.

Santa Barbara offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. 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.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Duck. Hanging out at the beach and enjoy water sports or outdoor activities are the main draw of this town. You won't find much in the form of museums or indoor activities.


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

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Duck is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its restaurants.

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.

Duck has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. For such a small town, there's a decent selection of restaurants that range from local seafood eateries to pizza delivery. Homemade ice cream is a favorite in the area, but you also can't skip out on the flagship Duck Donuts store.

Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Nightlife?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a popular place for nightlife. However, Duck is not a good beach town for nightlife and partying.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Santa Barbara. 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.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Duck. It's known as a family-friendly destination that isn't often associated with a strong nightlife, but there is often live music and other festivals during the summer months.

Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Resorts?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a well-known place for its resorts. Also, Duck is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its luxury resorts.

Santa Barbara is known as a popular and fun resort destination. 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.

With a selection of resorts, Duck makes a nice vacation spot. Most of the accommodation around town is in the form of vacation beach rental houses that are perfect for family gatherings or larger groups.


Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a moderate coastal town for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. However, Duck is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Snorkeling is an option 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.

Duck is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Beaches?

Duck
Santa Barbara

For a relaxing beach holiday, both Duck and Santa Barbara are first-rate choices.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Duck. Long sandy beaches with great surf and a wonderful boardwalk make this a great beach destination. Kids play in the tidal pools and families relax under their beach umbrellas in a classic beach setting.

With world-famous beaches, Santa Barbara is a very popular vacation destination. 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.

Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for its Old Town?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a popular place for its historic old town. However, Duck does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors go to Santa Barbara to see the historical old town. The city's downtown "Old Town" is a high end, pedestrian-friendly area with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Duck does not have a historic old town.


Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Hiking?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is renowned for the nearby hiking options. Also, Duck is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its hiking trails.

People visit Santa Barbara specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. 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.

Many people include a hike when visiting Duck. The Duck Trail runs for six miles and passes through town. It's popular with walkers, cyclists, and inline skaters.

Is the Shopping Better in Duck or Santa Barbara?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is renowned for shopping. Also, Duck is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its shopping opportunities.

Santa Barbara is a famous shopping destination with plenty of stores. The city is famous as a high end shopping destination. Head to State Street for a palm tree lined street with local boutiques.

Duck is well-known for its shopping. Head to the Waterfront Shops for some of the town's best shopping. You can wander along the boardwalk and check out the independent vendors and local restaurants.

Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Families?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Duck or Santa Barbara.

Duck is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kid-friendly beaches, local ice cream joints, and the famed Duck Donuts all make this an ideal kid's beach destination. There's a waterpark nearby and plenty of water sports that the whole family can enjoy. The boardwalk is also a very family-friendly environment.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Santa Barbara is very family-friendly. 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 Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Couples?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is renowned for romance. Also, Duck is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its romantic activities.

Santa Barbara makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. The town is a stunningly beautiful destination with beautiful beaches, excellent shopping, and nice resorts that make for a great honeymoon or romantic trip.

Duck makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. It's a charming beach town with great local restaurants and a beautiful and peaceful setting. For couples who want to enjoy a relaxing beach town without the energy of a larger destination, then this is the perfect place. Much of the accommodation is in the form of rental houses, which can be a bit much for a couple, but the setting is perfect for a weekend escape.

Is Duck or Santa Barbara Better for Students?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a well-known place for students. However, Duck is not popular with students.

Santa Barbara is a very popular coastal town for students and younger travelers. With a major university right in town, there's plenty of student life that international students or locals can enjoy.

Duck is not popular with students.

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

Duck
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a popular place for its public transit. However, Duck is not a good beach town for times when you don't have a car.

Santa Barbara has a few public transit options. Transit options include buses, trolleys and water taxis.

Public transit is mostly limited in Duck. It's best to have a car if you want to exploring the Outer Banks and its many activities.


Is Duck or Santa Barbara a more walkable city?

Duck
Santa Barbara

Duck is renowned for its ease of walking around. Also, Santa Barbara is not as famous, but is still a good coastal town to visit for its walkability.

It is easy to get around Duck on foot. It's a wonderfully walkable and pedestrian-friendly town with a great boardwalk and many walking and cycling paths.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Santa Barbara or Duck?

How long in Duck or Santa Barbara?

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

Families should spend more time in Santa Barbara than Duck. 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 Duck. 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 Duck 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 Duck or Santa Barbara? Ideal Length of Stay
    Duck 5-7 
    Santa Barbara 2-3

One day in Duck or Santa Barbara?

Even though Duck is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. 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.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Santa Barbara. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Duck or Santa Barbara?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Duck. Most people come for the beaches. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. 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 fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


Five days in Duck or Santa Barbara?

Duck is a small town with plenty to do. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. This beach town 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.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the opulent destination of Santa Barbara. This coastal town offers something for everyone. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Duck or Santa Barbara?

Duck 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.

The affluent coastal town of Santa Barbara offers nightlife and food. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week 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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Barbara or Duck?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Duck is $188, 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 Duck and Santa Barbara in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Duck $107
    Santa Barbara $88
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Duck $214
    Santa Barbara $176
Compare Hotels in Duck and Santa Barbara

Looking for a hotel in Duck 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 Duck


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.
    Duck $66
    Santa Barbara $42

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Barbara

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Barbara:

  • Private Transfer from Santa Barbara Port to Los Angeles Airport: $94
  • Private Transfer from Santa Barbara Cruise Port to Los Angeles: $94

Is it cheaper to fly into Duck or Santa Barbara?

Prices for flights to both Santa Barbara and Duck 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
    Duck $45
    Santa Barbara $46

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Duck $13
    Santa Barbara $27

Tours and Activities in Santa Barbara

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

  • Crime Solving Detective Experience Goleta / Isla Vista, CA: $15
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience Santa Barbara, CA: $15
  • Solvang City Self Guided Audio Tour: $20
  • Solvang Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Santa Barbara Trolley Tour: $30
  • Santa Barbara Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Santa Barbara Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • Santa Barbara Highlights Private 2-Hour Driving Tour: $51
  • Guided Kayak Wildlife Tour in the Santa Barbara Harbor: $55
  • The Haunt: Solvang Ghost Hunting Tour: $55
  • Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide: $55
  • 1.5-Hour Harbor Kayak Tour: $60

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Duck $45
    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
  • All-Inclusive Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Ynez Valley: $199
  • 6 hour Private Wine Tour of Santa Barbara County : $199
  • Wine Tasting Tour in Santa Ynez Valley (All-Inclusive & Full-Day): $215
  • ‚ÄčAll-Inclusive Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Barbara: $219
  • Taco Tour & Wine Tasting Funk Zone Santa Barbara: $225
  • 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
  • Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Wine Tour (We Drive Your Vehicle): $300


When comparing the travel costs between Duck and Santa Barbara, we can see that Duck 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 Duck Expensive? and Is Santa Barbara Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Duck or Santa Barbara?

Santa Barbara has a larger population, and is about 150 times larger than the population of Duck. When comparing the sizes of Duck and Santa Barbara, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Duck or Santa Barbara?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Duck or Santa Barbara in the Summer?

Both Santa Barbara and Duck are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The summer months attract visitors to Duck because of the beaches, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Santa Barbara this time of year.

In July, Duck is generally a little warmer than Santa Barbara. Daily temperatures in Duck average around 78°F (26°C), and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 65°F (19°C).

It's quite rainy in Duck. In July, Duck usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. Duck gets 5.4 inches (137 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Duck 78°F (26°C) 
    Santa Barbara 65°F (19°C)

Should I visit Duck or Santa Barbara in the Autumn?

Both Santa Barbara and Duck during the autumn are popular places to visit. The hiking trails, the shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Duck this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Santa Barbara for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

Duck is around the same temperature as Santa Barbara in the autumn. The daily temperature in Duck averages around 62°F (16°C) in October, and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 62°F (17°C).

Duck usually gets more rain in October than Santa Barbara. Duck gets 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0.5 inches (13 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Duck 62°F (16°C) 
    Santa Barbara 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Duck or Santa Barbara in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Duck and Santa Barbara. Many travelers come to Duck for the shopping scene and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Santa Barbara in the winter for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Duck. In the winter, Duck is much colder than Santa Barbara. Typically, the winter temperatures in Duck in January average around 41°F (5°C), and Santa Barbara averages at about 52°F (11°C).

Duck gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In January, Duck usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. Duck gets 4.1 inches (105 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Duck 41°F (5°C) 
    Santa Barbara 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Duck or Santa Barbara in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Duck as well as Santa Barbara. Many visitors come to Duck in the spring for the beaches, the small town charm, and the natural beauty. Also, most visitors come to Santa Barbara for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty during these months.

In April, Duck is generally around the same temperature as Santa Barbara. Daily temperatures in Duck average around 59°F (15°C), and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 57°F (14°C).

Duck usually gets more rain in April than Santa Barbara. Duck gets 3 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 1.1 inches (27 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Duck 59°F (15°C) 
    Santa Barbara 57°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Barbara and Duck

Duck Santa Barbara
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 41°F (5°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 42°F (6°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Mar 50°F (10°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Apr 59°F (15°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
May 67°F (19°C) 4.6 inches (117 mm) 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Jun 74°F (23°C) 4.1 inches (105 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jul 78°F (26°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm) 65°F (19°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 78°F (25°C) 5 inches (127 mm) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 72°F (22°C) 4.7 inches (119 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm)
Oct 62°F (16°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm)
Nov 53°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
Dec 45°F (7°C) 3.4 inches (85 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)