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How to Plan an Affordable Trip to Santa Barbara

Have you ever considered taking a budget trip to one of the most expensive cities in the United States? Here's how you can plan an affordable trip to Santa Barbara.
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Tip to save money in Santa Barbara
"Santa Barbara is a paradise ... superficial though it may be, it is paradise. There is no other."
― Jean Baudrillard

Nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean is California's best-smelling city, Santa Barbara. With delightful scents of jasmines, hyacinths, and orange blossoms in the air, this city boasts of an affluent community, and a cityscape of Mediterranean-style stuccoed houses covered with red-tiled roofs. For most Americans, this place is a perfect weekend getaway, full of youth and calmly relaxing at the same time. What's more? The city features some outstanding architectural masterpieces, entertaining shopping scene, and a seductive nightlife.

Santa Barbara on a Budget

If glossy travel magazines are to be believed, Santa Barbara is one of the most expensive cities in the US. And that it indeed seems to be, given the fact that this so-called American Riviera is home to some of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. And in any case, a dinner costing some $500 in a top restaurant here is not unheard of. Yet, the city is also home to a large number of college students and retirees, which shows that there are indeed more options in this place than the travel shows and magazines inform us about. If you wish to take a trip to the American Riviera, but are worried about the budget, Buzzle puts forth a few practical tips to plan an affordable trip to this beautiful city.

Travel During the Off-season

Santa Barbara is most crowded with tourists during winter and fall, which are the driest and warmest times of the year. These are the peak seasons, when the city, specially the accommodations are expensive, and it is rarely possible, if at all, to find cheaper bargains. To save money, travel to the city in spring or winter. These are rainier times; however, you will find cheaper deals on accommodations and airfares, and will also be able to escape the crowds.

Opt for Cheaper Accommodations

Though Santa Barbara is famous for its luxurious, high-end resorts, the city has plenty of options for budget travelers as well. You can opt to stay in small lodges, hostels, and motels, wherein you can find affordable deals. Browse the Internet for options, and choose the most suitable one. Look for free facilities such as car parking, Internet access, free breakfast, and so on. Moreover, opt to stay away from tourist areas to find cheaper deals. You can opt for the AAE Santa Barbara hostel that's located at 111 N. Milpas Street, where room rates start from $23 per night. Alternatively, if you are not on a very tight budget but are still looking for an affordable accommodation, Hotel Quality Inn Santa Barbara at 3055 De La Vina Street may be an option. Here, room rates start at $84 per night.

Explore the City on Foot

While you can hire a cab or opt for the more affordable shuttle service to travel across the city, Santa Barbara can be best explored on foot. Take free, self-guided walks around the city and see the various historic sites, visit the beachfront, and do not forget to try some of the sumptuous street flavors. You can start your walk from a fixed spot each time, and aim to visit different tourist places in the city.

Opt for Free Attractions

While most top-rated attractions here charge an admission fee, there are also several free attractions to visit around the city. For instance, the city's oldest park―the Alameda Park―offers free admission and is a great place for a family outing. Furthermore, look out for free parking spaces in order to save money.

Eat on the Cheap

This city is famous for its extravagantly charged lunches and dinners; however, finding a wallet-friendly and pleasant place to eat is also not very tough. The option of street food is always available; however, there are also a lot of inexpensive Mexican food outlets in the city. As with the accommodations, the restaurant prices also go on dropping as you go farther from the tourist hubs. Some of the affordable eateries here include Cuernavaca, a Mexican food outlet at 201 W. Carrillo Street, Lilly's Tacos at 310 Chapala Street, and La Super-Rica Taqueria at 622 N. Milpas Street.

Glimpses of Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara
In the clockwise direction, starting from top-left―Santa Barbara Mission; Santa Barbara Courthouse; Santa Barbara Wine Area; Cityscape of Santa Barbara; Promenade at Santa Barbara; East Beach.

So, head to one of the most affluent cities in the United States, and return satisfied with the fact that you managed to take a trip to Santa Barbara even on a tight budget.
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Published: February 4, 2014
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