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Santa Barbara is on the California coast 90 miles north of Los Angeles and 325 miles south of San Francisco. Best bet is either to fly to Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) or connect via rental car or Airbus shuttle from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). You can also fly to Burbank (BUR) and take Amtrak to Santa Barbara. Once you’ve arrived you won’t need a car. Everything is within walking distance. Details below.
Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) is located 8 miles from downtown Santa Barbara and offers all the advantages of a regional airport. No long TSA lines, expedited luggage retrieval, easy access to ground transportation and minimal travel time to your final destination. There are 32 daily departures to 6 non-stop airports and one-stops to anywhere in the world you want to fly. Flights from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Portland, OR and Seattle via Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines. Taxi to hotel is under $30.
Or you can fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), just 90 miles south away, and catch a ride on an Airbus shuttle or rent a car to drive up the coast. Airbus runs 16 trips a day from LAX to downtown Santa Barbara. If you drive, you will arrive via Highway 101. This stretch of the 101 (aka Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway) passes right through Santa Barbara and dishes out plenty of views to thrill.
Or you can take the train. Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR) is located 95 miles South/East of Santa Barbara and there is an Amtrak Station located in the airport. Amtrak trains travel up the coast and stop in downtown Santa Barbara several times a day.
If you’re driving, whether from the south or north, follow U.S. Highway 101 and the Pacific Coast Highway, which become the same road at various stages. Santa Barbara is just a 90-mile drive (144 km) from Los Angeles; we recommend taking the scenic route along Highway 1 via Malibu. From San Francisco, it’s just 325 miles (523 km) down the road. Again, if you have plenty of time, take the slower route along two-lane Highway One through Big Sur and Cambria to gaze at stunning views along the way-this section of the PCH is one of the nation’s most famous drives. But those views are just a prelude of what lies ahead. Santa Barbara’s scenery rivals the best on the planet.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner travels 12 times daily between San Diego and San Luis Obispo. The Coast Starlight journeys daily between Los Angeles and Seattle, with stops in Oakland/San Francisco, Sacramento and Portland. Both trains stop at the Amtrak station in downtown Santa Barbara at 209 State Street. The Pacific Surfliner also stops in Carpinteria, Goleta, Guadalupe, Santa Maria and Surf/Lompoc. Info: 800.USA.RAIL, www.amtrak.com.