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

Should you visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma?

Should I visit Santa Barbara or Sonoma? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

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 city 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 $130, while the average daily cost in Sonoma is $176. 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 Santa Barbara and Sonoma in more detail.



Accommodation

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.

Travelers usually pay around $148 for a double occupancy room in Sonoma If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Santa Barbara $71
    Sonoma $74
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Santa Barbara $142
    Sonoma $148

Food

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 in Sonoma costs travelers about $45 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Santa Barbara $37
    Sonoma $45

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

Local Transportation

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.

Sonoma'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 $107 per person, per day on transportation in Sonoma.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Santa Barbara $33
    Sonoma $107

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 SFO to Sonoma: $215
  • Private transfer from Sonoma to SFO: $215

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.





Entertainment

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.

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Sonoma can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $13 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Santa Barbara $22
    Sonoma $13

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

Tours and Activities in Sonoma

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

  • 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
  • Pt. Reyes Food and Farm Tour with Lunch: $225
  • 6 Hour Private Wine Sonoma Tours Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passengers Van: $499

Alcohol

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.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Sonoma, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $33.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Santa Barbara $9.46
    Sonoma $33
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

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
  • All-Inclusive Wine Tasting Tour with Lunch: $198
  • 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
  • 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.

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Santa Barbara vs. Sonoma Travel Comparison

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