AOL Travel

Santa Barbara Transportation

Getting There

Flights to and from Santa Barbara Airport connect with California and western U.S. cities, including Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, Portland and Seattle. Airlines include American, United, Horizon, and Alaska. For more frequent and (therefore) less expensive flights to western cities, the East Coast and international flights, the nearest airports are Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, in LA’s San Fernando Valley. Buses connect with LAX, an approximately one hour and a half drive from Santa Barbara, more during LA rush hours. One such is bus is the Santa Barbara Airbus (800-423-1618).

Amtrak (1-800-USA-RAIL) train service connects Santa Barbara with Los Angeles and San Diego on the south via the Pacific Surfliner (ask the conductor for two complimentary MTD bus tickets for use during your stay) and the Coast Starlight comes through on it trip from San Diego to Seattle. Connections with the rest of the U.S. can be made from Union Station in Los Angeles. Check for discounts.


Greyhound serves Santa Barbara, although the number of connections has dwindled over the years as other transportation options have improved. 1-800-231-2222.

Getting Around

Public Transit

The Santa Barbara transportation authority rightly prides itself on the fleet of ecologically-considerate hybrid buses that connect its many neighborhoods. The fare is $1.75. The Old Mission Bus (Line 22) connects downtown to the Mission from State Street at Anapamu. The town also runs electric shuttles that cost 25 cents, including the Waterfront shuttle, which connects the harbor with the zoo, and Downtown, which runs along State Street from Stearns Wharf to Sola Street. Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District (the MTD) (805-683-3702).


All the major car rental companies have offices in Santa Barbara, and Budget, Hertz, Enterprise and National have offices at Santa Barbara Airport. Unless you take an organized tour, a car is essential for visiting wine country in the Santa Ynez Valley. Be aware: most downtown streets are one way. Parking is free (90 minutes with validation) at the wharf and city beaches, but the number of spaces is limited, so your best bet is showing up before the crowds. Parking at most of the State beaches (like El Capitan and Gaviota) is $8 for the day, but there are plenty of beaches with free parking, in Summerland and Goleta, for example.


There are a number of taxi companies serving Santa Barbara neighborhoods, and, of course, one of them—Lucky Cab (805-968-5020)—runs a fleet of hybrids. Another company is Santa Barbara Yellow Cab, 805-965-5111.