Travel Koncierge: Santa Barbara page 2
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Travel Koncierge for Santa Barbara!
There is a small airport in the adjacent town of Goleta http://www.
flysba.com/ that is served by major air carriers. You can fly there,
but most people drive.
Rail service from LA and SF is available on Amtrak. The Coast
Starlight (from LA to Seattle) and the Pacific Surfliner (from San
Diego to San Luis Obispo) all serve this station. The station ID is
“SBA” For details on rail service to Santa Barbara, visit http://www.
pagename=Amtrak/am2Station/Station_Page&code=SBA . The
train station is on Lower State Street (State Street is the main drag
of the city) across Highway 101 from Downtown and about 2-3
blocks from the beaches. Downtown is a quick walk under the
freeway although buses and taxis serve the station. Of course,
there are a number of wonderful hotels, inns, and B&Bs (some
suitable for children) on the same side of the 101 as the train
station. Of course, rail is more Romantic than practical for most
travelers, but it is an option. Do not, by the way, think that you will
fly into Burbank or LAX and then rail up to Santa Barbara as the
distances from the airport to the train stations are not insignificant.
Driving is the preferred mode of access for Santa Barbara and
definitely the most practical.
From the South, Santa Barbara is about 100 miles due North on
the 101 from Los Angeles, It is a lovely ride whether you drive the
coast all the way from Santa Monica (along PCH cutting through
Oxnard) or take the 101 through the San Fernando Valley. Either
way, you end up spending the last 50 or so miles from
Oxnard/Ventura onwards driving along some stunning coastline.
Tuck the turnoffs for Ventura and Ojai into the back of your mind as
you will want to know where they are for future excursions out of
Santa Barbara – especially if you want to do the water parks in the
From the North, where most of you will be originating, it is a 4.5-5
hour drive along the 101. The 101 is a beautiful drive through
some cool towns. You could shotgun the trip or stop in San
Simeon (for Hearst Castle), Gilroy (for Gilroy Gardens, formerly
Bonfante Gardens), Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo (SLO).
We often stop in SLO for lunch either way. It is close to half way
and is a nice way to break up the trip). Even if you don’t stop, the
drive is not unpleasant. We would NOT recommend taking the I5
as you will need to cut across at Kettleman City heading towards
Paso Robles. When you work out the distances, you may as well
just start and finish on the 101.
This is a resort town. You can count on a wide range of
accommodations from the luxury (Bacara, the Four Seasons
Biltmore, and the San Ysidro Ranch) to the budget.
Good to know: If you don’t mind driving a little and don’t mind
being a little distance away from the action, you can find a bunch of
good deals farther south in Carpinteria and Summerland and
North in Upper State, Goleta. Even Solvang is not too far away.
Solvang bears some mention. Solvang is a Danish themed town
just North of Santa Barbara. While the town is a bit Disney-esque
in its decor, it is a fun afternoon or coupe of hours.
Inns. Motels, and B&Bs
There are a ton of smaller accommodations on upper state, near
the zoo, and in the area just West of State street in a neighborhood
called West Beach. West Beach is notable because the beach is
walking distance from your accommodations. There are a number
of wonderful B&Bs on Chapala (one block west of State Street)
from just North of Gutierrez all the way up past Mission St. B&Bs
are a little touchier as most frown on children. Some inns are
equally not suitable for children. Others, like the Harbor View Inn,
28 Cabrillo Blvd., (805) 963-0780 www.harborviewinnsb.com at
the corner of Cabrillo and State are especially well-suited for
families with a pool (yes, they are directly across the street from
the beach, but maybe you don’t want to deal with sand?). The
Harbor View may be a little pricey, but others, like the Eagle Inn,
232 Natoma Street, (805) 965-3586 www.eagleinn.com are nice
because a few of their units boast kitchenettes and are child
friendly. Visit www.santabarbara.com for a full listing of
accommodations in the area.
We also have liked the Casa Del Mar, 18 Bath Street, www.
casadelmar.com. There you will get well appointed rooms - many
with kitchenettes, a pool, continental breakfast, free wifi, and you
are less than a block from the beach.
Good to know: the train station is a block or two away from the
beach. This is important if you or your family are light sleepers,
because trains blast their horns loudly as they go through
crossings (at State). Trains come through regularly. We sleep
through them, but we can see how some might be disturbed by
Also good to know: Many of your larger hotels like the Four
Seasons have kids clubs which are well staffed and geared
towards entertaining your kids while you play tennis, golf, go for
that run, or have a meeting.
Vacation rentals beat hotels any day of the week. Lots of
websites serve this world. You can cook there, you can order in
and eat in a civilized manner, and you can spread out. Many even
have yards and other amenities like bikes, beach chairs, etc. that
you just won't find elsewhere. They are also cheaper, have more
room, and while they do not have the amenities of a hotel, that isn’t
always a huge loss. Barring vacation rentals, suite hotels are a
good value as well. We generally use www.vrbo.com
Travel Koncierge Santa Barbara
Updated July 5, 2010
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