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

Should you visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma?

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

Should I visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma? 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.

Where Should I go: Santa Barbara or Sonoma?

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.

Sonoma

When people say Sonoma, they are often referring to the region's wine country, but in fact, Sonoma is a county, a valley, and a town. The county covers 1,768 square miles and is more spread out than nearby Napa. There are more than 30 cities and towns in the county and 425 wineries with tasting rooms. The county also borders the Pacific Ocean, and the beautiful 55 mile stretch of coastline is rugged and dramatic.

Which place is cheaper, Sonoma or Santa Barbara?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Santa Barbara is $162, while the average daily cost in Sonoma is $219. 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 Santa Barbara and Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Santa Barbara $88
    Sonoma $93
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Santa Barbara $176
    Sonoma $186
Compare Hotels in Santa Barbara and Sonoma

Looking for a hotel in Santa Barbara or Sonoma? 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 Santa Barbara


Hotels in Sonoma


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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 and Sonoma Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Santa Barbara $42
    Sonoma $134

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Sonoma

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

  • Private transfer from Sonoma to SFO: $215
  • Private transfer from SFO to Sonoma: $215
  • From San Francisco: Transfer to Lake Tahoe & Palisades Tahoe: $1,699

Is it cheaper to fly into Santa Barbara or Sonoma?

Prices for flights to both Sonoma and Santa Barbara 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
    Santa Barbara $46
    Sonoma $56

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

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Sonoma

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

  • Wine Country Food Tours. Sightseeing to various local artisanal food producers: $462

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Santa Barbara $27
    Sonoma $16

Tours and Activities in Santa Barbara

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

  • Authentic Funk Zone Tour: $125
  • Beginner or Intermediate Mountain Bike Tour of Santa Barbara: $105
  • 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 Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $44
  • Santa Barbara Downtown Cocktails and History Walking Tour: $85
  • Santa Barbara Electric Bike Tour: $95

Tours and Activities in Sonoma

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

  • Sonoma Valley Half-Day Wine Country Tour: $100
  • Sonoma Valley: Guided Winery Tour with Picnic Lunch: $119
  • Sonoma Valley Wine Buyer's Picnic Tour: $125
  • Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Sonoma Valley: $130
  • Sonoma Food and Wine Private Group Tour: $138
  • #1 Private Walking Food, Wine & History Tour: $139
  • Sonoma County Wine Segway Tour: $151
  • Behind-the-Scenes Food and Wine E-Bike or Regular Bike Tour: $151
  • Sonoma Valley Full-Day Pedal Assist Bike Tour with Lunch - (Reg. Bike Optional): $151
  • All-Inclusive Sonoma Wine and Picnic Tour: $198
  • Rides by me, Sonoma Sidecar Wine-Tasting tours: $220
  • Point Reyes Station: Food and Farm Tour with Lunch: $225

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Santa Barbara $12
    Sonoma $41
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

Sample the Local Flavors in Sonoma

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

  • 2-Hour Private Guided E-Trike Wine Tour at Sonoma: $80
  • Sonoma County Wine Tasting Tour: $103
  • #1 Small Group Sonoma Walking Food and Wine Tour: $105
  • Napa Valley: Guided Wine Tour with Picnic Lunch: $119
  • Sonoma County: Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour: $130
  • From San Francisco: Redwoods and Wine Tasting: $179
  • Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour Including Custom Concierge: $225
  • Wine Tours: $513
  • 6 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine: $675
  • 8-Hour Private Wine Tour Experience for up to 6 Guests - San Francisco to Sonoma: $680
  • Guided Private Wine Tour to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country: $800
  • 8 Hour Napa or Sonoma Wine Tour in Private Limousine: $875


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Santa Barbara and Sonoma, we can see that Sonoma 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 Sonoma would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Sonoma than you might in Santa Barbara.


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

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 Santa Barbara or Sonoma in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Santa Barbara as well as Sonoma. Many visitors come to Santa Barbara in the summer for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences.

Santa Barbara is cooler than Sonoma in the summer. The temperature in Santa Barbara is usually 65°F (19°C) in July, and Sonoma stays around 73°F (23°C).

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


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

Should I visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma in the Autumn?

Both Sonoma and Santa Barbara are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Santa Barbara for the hiking trails, the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

In the autumn, Santa Barbara is around the same temperature as Sonoma. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Santa Barbara in October are around 62°F (17°C), and Sonoma is about 62°F (17°C).

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


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

Should I visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma in the Winter?

Both Sonoma and Santa Barbara during the winter are popular places to visit. The winter months attract visitors to Santa Barbara because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

In January, Santa Barbara is generally a little warmer than Sonoma. Temperatures in Santa Barbara average around 52°F (11°C), and Sonoma stays around 46°F (8°C).

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


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Santa Barbara 52°F (11°C) 
    Sonoma 46°F (8°C)

Should I visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Santa Barbara and Sonoma. The beaches, the activities around the city, and the natural beauty are the main draw to Santa Barbara this time of year.

Santa Barbara is around the same temperature as Sonoma in the spring. The temperature in Santa Barbara is usually 57°F (14°C) in April, and Sonoma stays around 56°F (13°C).

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


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Santa Barbara 57°F (14°C) 
    Sonoma 56°F (13°C)

Typical Weather for Sonoma and Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Sonoma
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 52°F (11°C) 3.2 inches (82 mm) 46°F (8°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Feb 54°F (12°C) 3.6 inches (92 mm) 51°F (11°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Mar 55°F (13°C) 2.8 inches (72 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
Apr 57°F (14°C) 1.1 inches (27 mm) 56°F (13°C) 1.2 inches (31 mm)
May 59°F (15°C) 0.2 inches (4 mm) 64°F (18°C) 0.2 inches (5 mm)
Jun 62°F (17°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 69°F (21°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm)
Jul 65°F (19°C) 0 inches (1 mm) 73°F (23°C) 0.1 inches (2 mm)
Aug 67°F (19°C) 0.1 inches (3 mm) 72°F (22°C) 0.1 inches (1 mm)
Sep 66°F (19°C) 0.5 inches (12 mm) 70°F (21°C) 0.3 inches (7 mm)
Oct 62°F (17°C) 0.5 inches (13 mm) 62°F (17°C) 1.3 inches (33 mm)
Nov 57°F (14°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.8 inches (71 mm)
Dec 52°F (11°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 46°F (8°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)


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Santa Barbara vs. Sonoma Travel Comparison

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