Budget-friendly activities in this tony coastal city.
Affordable Santa Barbara
Credit: © Spring Images / Alamy

Set between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, it’s not surprising that Santa Barbara is known for its stunning scenery. Lesser known is that the Gold Coast can, in fact, be as easy on the wallet as it is on the eyes. And it hits some of the best markers of an easygoing weekend getaway—there’s great architecture, shopping, and nightlife.

Presidio Motel

This hip and trendy boutique in downtown Santa Barbara uses colorful customized vinyl decals of peacocks, chandeliers, grandfather clocks, giraffes with parachutes, and other playful images to create a modern and individual style for each of its 16 guest rooms.

Hungry Cat, Santa Barbara

Try the Greyhound Proper, a cocktail made with fresh grapefruit juice, gin, and candied grapefruit peel (or any other drink from their menu, which is constantly changing based on what’s fresh from the farmers’ market.)

Santa Barbara County Courthouse

The elaborate architecture is equal parts alcazar and Palazzo Vecchio. The view from the clocktower stretches from the Channel Islands to the Santa Barbara Mission.