A Travel Price Comparison for California Palm Springs vs. Santa Barbara for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Palm Springs or Santa Barbara?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Palm Springs and Santa Barbara can help you decide which place is right for you.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a desert resort town located about two hours east of Los Angeles, most famously known as Hollywood's playground, where stars and starlets could escape for rest and relaxation but still be close enough to return for impromptu work.

It's no wonder that Palm Springs is increasingly popular as a weekend getaway for special occasions, and even for bachelor and bachelorette parties. Closer than the typical Las Vegas weekend for Southern California residents, Palm Springs provides a desert getaway with endless possibilities of activities, whether visitors want to gamble, shop, hike, or wander through an art gallery.

Climate in the high-desert is generally warm with highs in the 100s during the hot and dry summers, and lows in the mid 40s in the winter months, with sparse rainfall. However, if you're visiting during winter, be sure to pack versatile attire and layers as the days may be warm, but the nights in the low desert can get chilly enough to convince you to change into long pants.

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 Palm Springs?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Palm Springs is $165, 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 Palm Springs and Santa Barbara in more detail.



Accommodation

Palm Springs's average price for two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room is $192. A typical place to stay for one person, per day is $96.

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
    Palm Springs $96
    Santa Barbara $71
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Palm Springs $192
    Santa Barbara $142

Food

On average, meal and food prices in Palm Springs cost around $42 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $17.

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
    Palm Springs $42
    Santa Barbara $37

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Palm Springs

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Palm Springs.

  • Private French-Inspired Cooking Class with a Fun Local: $72

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

The cost of a taxi ride in Palm Springs is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $42 per person, per day, on local transportation in Palm Springs.

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.
    Palm Springs $42
    Santa Barbara $33

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Palm Springs

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Palm Springs:

  • Palm Springs International Airport One Way Transfer: $37
  • PALM SPRINGS to Palm Springs Airport (PSP) - Departure Private Transfer: $98
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to PALM SPRINGS - Arrival Private Transfer: $98
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to PALM DESERT - Arrival Private Transfer: $106
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to INDIAN WELLS - Arrival Private Transfer: $124
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LA QUINTA/INDIO - Arrival Private Transfer: $124
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to PALM SPRINGS - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $197
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to PALM DESERT - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $212
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to INDIAN WELLS - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $249
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LA QUINTA/INDIO - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $249
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to ONTARIO - Arrival Private Transfer: $299
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to SANTA ANA - Arrival Private Transfer: $365

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Barbara

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Barbara:

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

Is it cheaper to fly into Palm Springs or Santa Barbara?

Prices for flights to both Santa Barbara and Palm Springs 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

Entertainment and activities in Palm Springs typically cost an average of $23 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.

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.
    Palm Springs $23
    Santa Barbara $22

Tours and Activities in Palm Springs

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Palm Springs are as follows:

  • Palm Springs Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour: $29
  • Palm Springs Windmill Self-Driving Tour Interactive Fun Safe: $49
  • Modern & More Bike Tours Palm Springs: $55
  • The Legends & Icons Tour of Palm Springs: $114
  • Mods & Icons Tour of Palm Springs: $127
  • Palm Springs Day Tour and Outlet Shopping from Los Angeles: $169
  • Indian Canyons Walking Tour by Jeep from Palm Springs: $250
  • Indian Canyons Walking Tour by Jeep from Palm Desert: $250
  • Playground of the Stars Palm Springs Tour: $323
  • Palm Springs All-City Tour: $323
  • Private Golden Days Tour of Palm Springs: $323
  • Private Tour of Joshua Tree National Park from Palm Springs: $495

Tours and Activities in Santa Barbara

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

  • Santa Barbara Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Tour of Farm and Bodega, with Tasting of Craft Beer, Honey Wine, and Mead: $25
  • Santa Barbara Trolley Tour: $26
  • Private Walking Ghosts Tour at Santa Barbara: $35
  • Santa Barbara Kayak Tour: $49
  • Kayak Tour of Santa Barbara with Experienced Guide: $50
  • Wine and Chocolate Pairing Experience with Kym Slone!: $50
  • Santa Barbara History and Architecture Bike Tour: $58
  • Santa Barbara Harbor Kayak Tour: $60
  • Santa Barbara Kayak Tour: $63
  • Santa Barbara Wine Education Experience: $69
  • Sunset Kayak Tour: $76

Alcohol

The average person spends about $10 on alcoholic beverages in Palm Springs per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.

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
    Palm Springs $10
    Santa Barbara $9.46

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 Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, we can see that Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Palm Springs than you might in Santa Barbara.

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Palm Springs vs. Santa Barbara Travel Comparison

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