When to Visit Santa Barbara

by SmarterTravel Staff

Santa Barbara follows the traditional visitor pattern of much of the U.S., with the highest visitation during the summer season, and the lowest in winter.

However, unlike many other destinations, Santa Barbara's weather remains hospitable year-round, and visitors during off seasons will find a temperate climate and lower accommodations rates.

  • high season: mid-May to August
  • low season: mid-November to mid-March
  • shoulder season: September to early November, mid-March to early May

Weather Information

Santa Barbara has a distinctly Mediterranean-like climate, with high temperatures that range from the mid-60s to the mid-70s throughout the year, and an annual average of 300 days of sunshine. In late summer, temperatures can be in the upper 70s, but year-round, evening temperatures remain in the 40s and 50s.

During May and June, a marine layer sometimes dubbed "June gloom" may descend along the coast and keep temperatures cooler and skies gray. Warm temperatures and clear skies characterize the rest of the summer, and often extend through November.

Crowd Information

The largest crowds come to Santa Barbara from May through August. Not only do visitors flock to the city of Santa Barbara, but to other Santa Barbara County destinations including the wine country and the Danish town of Solvang.

Peak crowds during high season occur around graduation weekend for the University of California, Santa Barbara, which usually coincides with Father's Day. Large numbers of visitors also come during the Summer Solstice Celebration in June and for Old Spanish Days Fiesta the first week in August.

The quieter winter season comes to life during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February. And, weekends are popular with visitors within driving distance even during the winter months.

Closure Information

Hotels, shops, and attractions remain open year-round.

When to Save

The least expensive time to visit is from November to March, when lower demand keeps rates down. Throughout the year, there are discounts on accommodations available through the Santa Barbara Convention and Visitors Bureau.

When to Book

Visitors with flexible travel plans can take advantage of low last-minute airfares. However, those with a set schedule should book flights at least three weeks in advance to obtain lower prices and ensure availability, especially for travel during the high season.

Last-minute lodging is available most of the year, but book at least two months in advance for visits during the high season to ensure availability.

Information provided by the Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Read comments or add your own insight!