A Travel Price Comparison for California Los Angeles vs. Santa Barbara for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Los Angeles or Santa Barbara?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Los Angeles 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. So, let's dig into it.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California is probably one of the most well known cities in the United States. It is the second most populated metro area in the country with more than 17 million people. The city's diversity is wide reaching, giving it a character that is unique from any other place in the country. LA has many world famous sights and neighborhoods including Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and Santa Monica, but there is really so much more to this city.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is located in California, less than 100 miles from Los Angeles. It sits between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, giving it a stunning backdrop. The town has a population of just 90,000 but it still offers visitors many cultural, culinary, and shopping experiences that surpass many large cities. There are wide beaches along a beautiful coastline, impressive wineries, and many top rated restaurants. Many people see Santa Barbara as a hangout for the rich and famous, but with a university and diverse population, the city is much more relatable than you might expect, although travel prices here are still somewhat high.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Barbara or Los Angeles?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Los Angeles is $190, while the average daily cost in Santa Barbara is $130. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Los Angeles and Santa Barbara in more detail.



Accommodation

For a normal double-occupancy room in Los Angeles, $222 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Los Angeles, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $111, such as in a hostel.

If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $71. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Santa Barbara the cost is $142 on average.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Los Angeles $111
    Santa Barbara $71
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Los Angeles $222
    Santa Barbara $142

Food

The price of a meal in Los Angeles can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $35 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $14 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.

The price of a meal in Santa Barbara can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $37 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $15 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Los Angeles $35
    Santa Barbara $37
Typical Food prices in Los Angeles

For Los Angeles, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Mexican Dinner (family of 4)
    $32
  • Burritos for Two
    $15
  • Coffee and Danish
    $7.70

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Los Angeles

For Los Angeles, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • How to Cook the Perfect Steak Virtual Cooking Class: $42
  • Downtown Food Tour: $75
  • West Hollywood Food Tour: $75
  • Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour: $77
  • Private Tour: Secret Food Tours Los Angeles Venice Beach: $96
  • Private Authentic Middle Eastern Cooking Class in Reseda, Los Angeles: $102
  • Luxury Vegan Food Tours of Los Angeles: $125
  • Secret Food Tour of Venice Beach, Los Angeles w/ Private Tour Option: $207
  • 3-Hour Secret Food Tour: $209

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Barbara

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Santa Barbara.

  • Downtown Santa Barbara Food Tour: $99

Local Transportation

Los Angeles's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $29 per person, per day on transportation in Los Angeles.

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $33 per day to get around in Santa Barbara.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Los Angeles $29
    Santa Barbara $33
Typical Local Transportation prices in Los Angeles

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Los Angeles:


  • Hotel Parking for a Day
    $22
  • Taxi to Airport
    $55

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Los Angeles

Also for Los Angeles, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Arrival Transfer from Los Angeles Airport LAX: $30
  • Private Departure Transfer to Los Angeles Airport LAX: $30
  • Los Angeles Arrival Private Transfer: LAX Airport: $31
  • Small-Group Amazing Hollywood Sign Tour with Transfer: $32
  • Transfer to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): $39
  • Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to Santa Monica - Arrival Private Transfer: $41
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Los Angeles to Los Angeles Int. Airport (LAX): $52
  • Private Van Airport Arrival Transfer: LAX Airport to Anaheim Resort Area: $53
  • Private Departure Transfer from Los Angeles City to Los Angeles Airport: $53
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Los Angeles Airport to Los Angeles City: $57
  • Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to Los Angeles - Arrival Private Transfer: $61
  • Los Angeles to Los Angeles Airport (LAX) - Departure Private Transfer: $61

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Barbara

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Barbara:

  • Santa Barbara-Ojai: Private Transfer To the Los Angeles.: $345
  • Santa Barbara Municipal Airport One Way Transfer: $48
  • Santa Barbara Area Private Transfer To Los Angeles.: $335
  • Private Transfer from Santa Bárbara to Terceira Lajes (TER) Airport: $87

Is it cheaper to fly into Los Angeles or Santa Barbara?

Prices for flights to both Santa Barbara and Los Angeles 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.





Entertainment

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Los Angeles can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $64 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $22 per person, per day in Santa Barbara. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Los Angeles $64
    Santa Barbara $22
Typical Entertainment prices in Los Angeles

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Los Angeles's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Santa Monica Pier Rides (family of 4)
    $37
  • Bowling
    $13
  • Hollywood Tour for Two
    $30
  • Six Flags for 2
    $96

Tours and Activities in Los Angeles

For Los Angeles, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Hollywood Boulevard’s Haunting History and Hidden Gems: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.00
  • Gambling Built the Sunset Strip: A Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour: $5.13
  • Hollywood Legends: A self-guided audio tour of the Sunset Strip: $5.99
  • Hollywood Celebrity & Star Homes Self-Guided Driving Tour: $6.40
  • City tour Los Angeles Chile: $10
  • TCL Chinese Theatre VIP Tour: $14
  • Petersen Automotive Museum Admission Ticket: $16
  • Fun Self-Guided Tour of Hollywood in Los Angeles: $19
  • Half Day Self-Guided Tour of Westwood in Los Angeles: $19
  • Melrose Self-Guided Tour of Instagrammable Places: $19
  • Self-Guided Tour of Downtown Los Angeles with Fun Facts and Best Photo Ops: $19
  • Venice Beach, CA WalkingTour: $19

Tours and Activities in Santa Barbara

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

  • 5-Day Wild West Tour From Los Angeles: $809
  • Authentic Funk Zone Tour: $125
  • Beginner or Intermediate Mountain Bike Tour of Santa Barbara: $105
  • Channel Islands 3-Day Private Eco Cruise: $6,500
  • Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide: $50
  • Private All-Inclusive Wine Country Tour for Couples from Santa Barbara: $550
  • Private Party Bus Tour in the Santa Ynez Valley: $245
  • Private Santa Barbara Winery Tour in Mercedes Convertible for up to 18 Guests: $848
  • Private Santa Barbara Winery and Estate Tour in Tesla SUV: $381
  • Private Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country Tour: $326
  • Private Walking Ghosts Tour at Santa Barbara: $35
  • Santa Barbara Downtown Cocktails and History Walking Tour: $85

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Los Angeles spend on average $11 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

The average person spends about $9.46 on alcoholic beverages in Santa Barbara per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Los Angeles $11
    Santa Barbara $9.46

Sample the Local Flavors in Los Angeles

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Los Angeles:

  • Brews Cruise- DTLA Brewery tour by bike: $50
  • Brewery Walking Tour -- Downtown / Arts District: $81
  • Malibu: Exclusive Wine Tasting and Falconry Experience: $109
  • Malibu: Vintage VW Hippie Sightseeing Tour with Wine Tasting: $139
  • Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Day Tour from Los Angeles: $249
  • Los Angeles Wine Tour: $250
  • The Private Malibu Wine Tour: $419
  • Food and Wine Tasting Party: $750
  • Private Tour: Malibu Wine Tasting for Two by Limousine from Los Angeles: $999

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:

  • Santa Barbara Private Wine Tasting Experience: $69
  • Santa Barbara Ghost and Wine Tasting Private Tour: $75
  • Private All-Inclusive Santa Barbara Brewery Tour: $125
  • Santa Ynez Wine Tour from Santa Barbara: $129
  • Private All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Barbara: $135
  • Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour: $139
  • Cupcake and Wine Tour: $149
  • Santa Ynez Valley Cupcake and Wine Tour: $159
  • Small-Group Santa Barbara Wine Tour to Private Locations: $163
  • All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Barbara: $167
  • Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour of Santa Barbara Wine Country: $169
  • Santa Barbara Small-Group Wine Tour to Private Locations Not Open To Pubic: $180


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, we can see that Los Angeles is more expensive. And not only is Santa Barbara much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santa Barbara would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santa Barbara and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Los Angeles would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Los Angeles than you might in Santa Barbara.

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Los Angeles vs. Santa Barbara Travel Comparison

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