A Travel Price Comparison for California San Francisco vs. Santa Barbara for Attractions, Food, Beaches, and Hiking

Should you visit San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between San Francisco or Santa Barbara, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

San Francisco

San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind, scenic, and beautiful coastal city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include nightlife, live music, and food.

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.

San Francisco and Santa Barbara: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Big city activities
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

Tourists will generally find more to do in San Francisco than Santa Barbara. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. San Francisco is very popular for its museums, theatre productions, food, music, and big city activities, while Santa Barbara attracts visitors for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, historical sights, and quaint atmosphere. San Francisco is more touristy than Santa Barbara and is popular for its striking bayfront setting, stunning urban hikes, quirky personality, and reputation within the tech industry. It is also well known for The Golden Gate Bridge. Santa Barbara is famous for its historic missions, pristine beaches, world-class surfing, and scenic hikes that are full of coastal views.

How is San Francisco different from Santa Barbara?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is renowned for its sights and museums. Also, Santa Barbara is not as famous, but is still a good coastal town to visit for its museums and history.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put San Francisco on the map. The city's landmarks are as diverse as the people who live there. The most recognizable landmark is the famous Golden Gate Bridge, but visitors also enjoy seeing Alcatraz Island, the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the small but fascinating Cable Car Museum.

Many visitors head to Santa Barbara specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. 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.


Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Theater?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is a popular place for its shows and theatre. However, Santa Barbara is not a theatre destination.

San Francisco offers a number of shows and performances. The city has around a dozen theaters where you can enjoy musicals or plays.

Santa Barbara is not a theatre destination.

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

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is renowned for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Santa Barbara is not as famous, but is still a good coastal town to visit for its restaurants.

For foodies, San Francisco is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. There are local dives as well as five star restaurants, with everything in between. Popular local dining experiences include sourdough bread bowls and Dungeness crab at Fisherman's Wharf, and dim sum in Chinatown. Head away from the touristy neighborhoods if you want to sample some of the more local restaurants around town.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Santa Barbara. 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 San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Nightlife?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

If the nightlife is your priority, you'll find nice options in both San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

If you're looking for night time activities San Francisco has a few options to choose from. It has a great nightlife with many local bars and trendy clubs. For the best nightlife away from the tourists, head to Valencia Street or Polk Street. If you want to be in a more touristy area, check out Union Square. Popular clubs in the city include Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub.

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.


Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Music?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is a popular place for its music scene. However, Santa Barbara is not a live music destination.

The music scene in San Francisco is active and vibrant. Well known music venues include the Great American Music Hall, Slim's, and The Chapel.

Santa Barbara is not a live music destination.

Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Resorts?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a great coastal town for its luxury resorts. However, San Francisco is not a resort destination.

Santa Barbara is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. 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.

San Francisco is not a resort destination.

Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is adequate for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, San Francisco 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.

San Francisco is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.


Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Beaches?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an amazing coastal town to visit for the beach. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for its beaches.

The beaches in Santa Barbara are among the best in 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.

The beaches at San Francisco attract visitors from all over. Whether you're interested in surfing or simply taking in the dramatic views, the beaches of San Francisco will take your breath away. Some of the best beaches include Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and Muir Beach.

Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for its Old Town?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a nice place to visit for its historic old town charm. However, San Francisco 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.

San Francisco does not have a historic old town.

Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Hiking?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco and Santa Barbara are both places where visitors can find fantastic hiking trails.

Known for its hiking, San Francisco draws a crowd to experience the nature and the trails. The city's hikes take in the dramatic views of the bay and city. Just outside of town there are also countless hikes through the Redwoods and along the coastline. Popular hikes in the area include Lands End, Tomales Point Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, and Muir Woods.

Around Santa Barbara visitors will find world-class hiking trails. 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.


Is the Shopping Better in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

If you're looking to go shopping, San Francisco and Santa Barbara both offer plenty of fantastic spots.

Many people travel to San Francisco specifically to go shopping. The city has excellent shopping from local vendors to recognizable brands. Union Square, Embarcadero, Fillmore Street and Haight Street are some of the best neighborhoods for shopping.

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.

Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Families?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is renowned for its family-friendly activities. Also, Santa Barbara is not as famous, but is still a good coastal town to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, San Francisco is a very family-friendly destination. With its many outdoor parks, hiking trails, beaches, and kid-friendly museums, this city makes a great family-friendly destination. There are also many amazing playgrounds with stunning views of the bay and city. Head to Chinatown for some unique and kid-friendly food, or down to Pier 39 for fun activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Santa Barbara is a very family-friendly destination. 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 San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Couples?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is an amazing coastal town to visit for couples. Also, San Francisco is not as popular, but is still a nice coastal city for romance.

Santa Barbara has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. The town is a stunningly beautiful destination with beautiful beaches, excellent shopping, and nice resorts that make for a great honeymoon or romantic trip.

San Francisco is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples enjoy the romantic backdrop of this beautiful city. There are world-class restaurants and plenty of spas that couples can enjoy during a honeymoon or romantic getaway. There are also many scenic walks and breathtaking views that couples can appreciate.


Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is a well-known place for backpackers. However, Santa Barbara is not a good coastal town for backpackers and budget travelers.

San Francisco is a very popular coastal city for backpackers and budget travelers. The city is one of the more backpacker friendly cities in the United States. There are a handful of hostels throughout, many concentrated in the popular Union Square and Downtown neighborhoods of the city.

Santa Barbara is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. The city isn't really known as a budget friendly destination, but there are a couple of hostels in the area. There's also a large student population with a fun nightlife scene.

Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara Better for Students?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

For students, both San Francisco and Santa Barbara are very good places to visit.

San Francisco is a great coastal city to visit as a student. As a large and dynamic city, the area is popular with international students who want to experience this unique side of the United States. Major universities in the area include University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, and nearby, the University of California, Berkeley.

Students come from all over to stay in Santa Barbara. With a major university right in town, there's plenty of student life that international students or locals can enjoy.

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

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco is renowned for its public transit. Also, Santa Barbara is not as famous, but is still a good coastal town to visit for times when you don't have a car.

San Francisco has a great public transit system. The transit network includes a subway (the BART), trams, cable cars, ferries, and buses.

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


Is San Francisco or Santa Barbara a more walkable city?

San Francisco
Santa Barbara

San Francisco and Santa Barbara are very good when it comes to walkability.

San Francisco is a very walkable destination. It is compact enough to explore on foot, but given the large hills, it's a bit of a challenge, even for the most fit among us.

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 San Francisco Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Barbara Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Barbara or San Francisco?

How long in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

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

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

Couples should spend more time in Santa Barbara than San Francisco. 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 San Francisco than Santa Barbara 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 San Francisco.


  • How many days in San Francisco or Santa Barbara? Ideal Length of Stay
    San Francisco 3-7 
    Santa Barbara 2-3

One day in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

San Francisco is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. 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.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the opulent destination of Santa Barbara. It's also a relaxing resort destination. 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.

A weekend in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in San Francisco. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Santa Barbara. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. A weekend is usually enough time to experience most activities.


Five days in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

San Francisco is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. This coastal city 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.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the affluent destination of Santa Barbara. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This coastal town offers a variety of activities to choose from. 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.

A week in San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

San Francisco is a bustling city that offers something for everyone. 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.

You'll find food and shopping around the beautiful coastal town of Santa Barbara. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America, The Best Historical Tours in United States of America, and The Best 10-Day Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Barbara or San Francisco?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Francisco is $222, 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 San Francisco and Santa Barbara in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Francisco $130
    Santa Barbara $88
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Francisco $260
    Santa Barbara $176
Compare Hotels in San Francisco and Santa Barbara

Looking for a hotel in San Francisco 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 San Francisco


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: San Francisco Hotel Prices and Santa Barbara Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Francisco $16
    Santa Barbara $42
Typical Local Transportation Prices in San Francisco

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in San Francisco:


  • Taxi to SFO
    $45
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll
    $6.00
  • Alcatraz Tour
    $30

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Francisco

Also for San Francisco, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private One-way Airport Transfer (San Francisco Airport To/From San Francisco): $16
  • Private Departure Transfer to San Francisco Airport SFO: $44
  • Private Arrival Transfer from San Francisco Airport SFO: $44
  • San Francisco Airport to San Francisco Private Arrival Transfer: $78
  • Round trip transfer in private vehicle from-to Airport in San Francisco: $80
  • SFO Airport Private Transfer to/from Downtown San Francisco: $96
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Airport SFO to San Francisco in Business Car: $108
  • Private Transfer from San Francisco to Airport SFO in Business Car: $108
  • San Francisco Airport (SFO) to San Francisco - Arrival Private Transfer: $110
  • San Francisco to San Francisco Airport (SFO) - Departure Private Transfer: $110
  • Private Airport Transfer from SFO to San Francisco (One-way): $110
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in San Francisco HTL-APT (SFO): $119

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Barbara

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santa Barbara:

  • Private Transfer from Santa Barbara Cruise Port to Los Angeles: $92
  • Private Transfer from Santa Barbara Port to Los Angeles Airport: $92

Is it cheaper to fly into San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

Prices for flights to both Santa Barbara and San Francisco 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
    San Francisco $46
    Santa Barbara $46

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Francisco

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

  • San Francisco Virtual Food Tour with Local Guide: $19
  • North Beach and Little Italy Food Tour: $79
  • Secret Food Tours San Francisco: $83
  • Mission District Food Tour with Tastings: $85
  • Farmers' Market & Ferry Building Food Tour: $87
  • San Francisco Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $89
  • Mission District Food Tour: $89
  • Mission District Walking Food Tour: $89
  • Chinatown Walking Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco North Beach Food Tour: $89
  • San Francisco Food Tour: Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market: $90
  • Secret Food Tour of North Beach and Chinatown: $96

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Francisco $46
    Santa Barbara $27

Tours and Activities in San Francisco

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for San Francisco.

  • San Francisco self-guided tour App - multilingual AudioGuide: $4.26
  • Golden Gate Bridge: Self-guided Tour App - Audio + Written: $5.00
  • Embarcadero Self-Guided Audio Smartphone Tour: $5.99
  • San Francisco’s Chinatown on foot: A Self Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Leave your heart at the Wharf: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour of Japantown & Stories: $6.99
  • The Ghosts of San Francisco Haunted Audio App Walking Tour: $6.99
  • Ghosts & Hauntings Audio App Walking Tour: $6.99
  • San Francisco's Castro Neighborhood: Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Design in the Financial District Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Secrets of Golden Gate Park Audio Tour: $7.99
  • San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Private 1-Hour Walking Tour: $9.00

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
  • Authentic Funk Zone Tour: $125
  • Beginner or Intermediate Mountain Bike Tour of Santa Barbara: $125
  • Coastline Kayak Tour near Santa Barbara with Knowledgeable Guide: $122
  • Downtown SB Walking Food & Drink Tour: $175
  • Electric Bike Adventure in Santa Barbara Wine Country: $83
  • 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

For more ideas for your next trip, check out The Best Museums in San Francisco, The Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco, and Things to Do In San Francisco on a Rainy Day.


Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Francisco $22
    Santa Barbara $12

Sample the Local Flavors in San Francisco

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in San Francisco:

  • Chinatown San Francisco’s Bar Crawl: An Audio Tour: $4.99
  • Ghosts, Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $35
  • Sunset Distillery with Local Whiskey or Cocktail Tasting: $40
  • Walk with Spirits: A Haunted Pub Crawl in San Francisco: $45
  • Wine Tasting on the Bay: $85
  • Half-Day Wine Country Tour with Wine Tastings: $126
  • The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Small Group: The Ultimate Napa & Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • From The Ultimate Napa and Sonoma Wine Tour: $139
  • Alcatraz and Sausalito California Wine Tasting Experience: $150
  • Napa and Sonoma Valley Wine Tour: $159

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
  • Santa Ynez Valley Wine Tour: $215
  • ‚ÄčAll-Inclusive Full-Day Wine Tasting Tour from Santa Barbara: $219
  • 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 we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between San Francisco and Santa Barbara, we can see that San Francisco 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 San Francisco would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in San Francisco than you might in Santa Barbara.

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


Which is Bigger, San Francisco or Santa Barbara?

San Francisco has a larger population, and is about 8 times larger than the population of Santa Barbara. When comparing the sizes of San Francisco 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 San Francisco 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 San Francisco or Santa Barbara in the Summer?

Both Santa Barbara and San Francisco during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to San Francisco in the summer for the beaches, the hiking, the city activities, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Santa Barbara for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

San Francisco is around the same temperature as Santa Barbara in the summer. The daily temperature in San Francisco averages around 63°F (17°C) in July, and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 65°F (19°C).

San Francisco usually gets more rain in July than Santa Barbara. San Francisco gets 0.1 inches (2 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0 inches (1 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Barbara 65°F (19°C)

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Barbara in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both San Francisco and Santa Barbara. Most visitors come to San Francisco for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Santa Barbara because of the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, San Francisco is around the same temperature as Santa Barbara. Typically, the autumn temperatures in San Francisco in October average around 63°F (17°C), and Santa Barbara averages at about 62°F (17°C).

In October, San Francisco usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. San Francisco gets 1.3 inches (33 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 0.5 inches (13 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    San Francisco 63°F (17°C) 
    Santa Barbara 62°F (17°C)

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Barbara in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to San Francisco as well as Santa Barbara. The winter months attract visitors to San Francisco because of the museums, the shopping scene, the theater shows, and the cuisine. Also, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Santa Barbara this time of year.

In January, San Francisco is generally around the same temperature as Santa Barbara. Daily temperatures in San Francisco average around 50°F (10°C), and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).

San Francisco usually gets more rain in January than Santa Barbara. San Francisco gets 3.8 inches (96 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 3.2 inches (82 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    San Francisco 50°F (10°C) 
    Santa Barbara 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit San Francisco or Santa Barbara in the Spring?

Both Santa Barbara and San Francisco are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty are the main draw to San Francisco this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Santa Barbara for the beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty.

San Francisco is around the same temperature as Santa Barbara in the spring. The daily temperature in San Francisco averages around 58°F (14°C) in April, and Santa Barbara fluctuates around 57°F (14°C).

In April, San Francisco usually receives more rain than Santa Barbara. San Francisco gets 1.2 inches (31 mm) of rain, while Santa Barbara receives 1.1 inches (27 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    San Francisco 58°F (14°C) 
    Santa Barbara 57°F (14°C)

Typical Weather for Santa Barbara and San Francisco

San Francisco Santa Barbara
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 50°F (10°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm)
Feb 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 54°F (12°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm)
Mar 56°F (13°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 55°F (13°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm)
Apr 58°F (14°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm) 57°F (14°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm)
May 60°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm) 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm)
Jun 62°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Jul 63°F (17°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm) 65°F (19°C) 0 inches (1 mm)
Aug 64°F (18°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm) 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Sep 66°F (19°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm) 66°F (19°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm)
Oct 63°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm) 62°F (17°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm)
Nov 57°F (14°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm) 57°F (14°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm)
Dec 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 52°F (11°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm)