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

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.

Where Should I go: Palm Springs or Santa Barbara?

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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Palm Springs and Santa Barbara in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Palm Springs $96
    Santa Barbara $71
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Palm Springs $192
    Santa Barbara $142
Compare Hotels in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara

Looking for a hotel in Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs


Hotels in Santa Barbara


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Local Transportation
  • 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.





Food
  • 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

Entertainment
  • 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
  • Indian Canyons Bike and Hike Adventure: $119
  • Mods & Icons Tour of Palm Springs: $127
  • Indian Canyons Hiking Tour by Jeep: $175
  • Joshua Tree National Park: Driving Tour: $179
  • 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

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 Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • 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
  • 1.5-Hour Harbor Kayak Tour: $60
  • Santa Barbara Kayak Tour: $63
  • Santa Barbara Wine Education Experience: $69

Alcohol
  • 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
  • From All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour & Lunch: $146
  • 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.


When is the best time to visit Palm Springs 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 Palm Springs or Santa Barbara in the Summer?

Both Santa Barbara and Palm Springs are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Santa Barbara because of the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences.


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In July, Palm Springs is generally a little warmer than Santa Barbara. Temperatures in Palm Springs average around 73°F (23°C), and Santa Barbara stays around 65°F (19°C).

In July, Palm Springs usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. At this time of the year, Palm Springs gets 0 inches (1 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Palm Springs 73°F (23°C) 
    Santa Barbara 65°F (19°C)

Should I visit Palm Springs or Santa Barbara in the Autumn?

Both Santa Barbara and Palm Springs during the autumn are popular places to visit. Furthermore, the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Santa Barbara this time of year.


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Palm Springs is a little warmer than Santa Barbara in the autumn. The temperature in Palm Springs is usually 69°F (20°C) in October, and Santa Barbara stays around 62°F (17°C).

Palm Springs usually gets less rain in October than Santa Barbara. Palm Springs gets 0.3 inches (7 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0.5 inches (13 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Palm Springs 69°F (20°C) 
    Santa Barbara 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit Palm Springs or Santa Barbara in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. Furthermore, many travelers come to Santa Barbara for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.


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In the winter, Palm Springs is a little warmer than Santa Barbara. Typically, the winter temperatures in Palm Springs in January are around 57°F (14°C), and Santa Barbara is about 52°F (11°C).

In January, Palm Springs usually receives less rain than Santa Barbara. At this time of the year, Palm Springs gets 2 inches (52 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Palm Springs 57°F (14°C) 
    Santa Barbara 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Palm Springs or Santa Barbara in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Palm Springs as well as Santa Barbara. Additionally, many visitors come to Santa Barbara in the spring for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.


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In April, Palm Springs is generally a little warmer than Santa Barbara. Temperatures in Palm Springs average around 62°F (17°C), and Santa Barbara stays around 57°F (14°C).

Palm Springs usually gets less rain in April than Santa Barbara. Palm Springs gets 0.9 inches (24 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 1.1 inches (27 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Palm Springs 62°F (17°C) 
    Santa Barbara 57°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Barbara and Palm Springs

Palm Springs Santa Barbara
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 57°F (14°C) 2 inches (52 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 58°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Mar 59°F (15°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Apr 62°F (17°C) 0.9 inches (24 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
May 65°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (6 mm) 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Jun 69°F (20°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jul 73°F (23°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 65°F (19°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 74°F (24°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 73°F (23°C) 0.4 inches (9 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm)
Oct 69°F (20°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm)
Nov 62°F (17°C) 1.5 inches (39 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
Dec 57°F (14°C) 1.7 inches (42 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)


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Palm Springs vs. Santa Barbara Travel Comparison

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