Know Before You Go
What should I pack? How can I get there? How old do I need to be to order a glass of wine? What kind of money do Californians use, anyway?
It's always best to prepare for your trip in advance, so you can make the most of every moment of your stay once you arrive. This handy quick-reference page places essential information at your fingertips. Climate, financial services, religious centers, rules and regulations, bus lines - nearly everything you need to know is just a click away. Still have questions? Just ask us!
LOCATION, POPULATION & GEOGRAPHY
Santa Barbara lies on the West Coast of the United States, 92 miles (148 km) north of Los Angeles and 332 miles (534 km) south of San Francisco. It is the largest city and the seat of Santa Barbara County, which covers 2,774 square miles. The Santa Ynez Mountains, which run along the east-west section of the Santa Barbara coast, serve as the boundary distinguishing "North County" (Ballard, Buellton, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, Solvang) from "South County" (Carpinteria, Goleta, Montecito, Santa Barbara and Summerland). While the South County cities and towns nestle in the Santa Ynez foothills on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, North County communities are located in higher-elevation inland mountain valleys.
The county is famous for its beautiful beaches, most of which lie along a unique south-facing stretch of coastline that affords beach visitors sun all day long and more shelter from winds and surf. But there's far more here than beaches. The county encompasses enormously varied terrain: Nearly one-third of its total acreage is set aside in the Los Padres National Forest, which includes the rugged San Rafael Wilderness Area. Santa Barbara County's topographical diversity creates a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities in a relatively compact area.
DISTANCES TO SANTA BARBARA FROM OTHER DESTINATIONS INCLUDE:
Hearst Castle: 118 mi./189 km
Santa Barbara County Wine Country: 32 mi./51 km
Universal Studios: 85 mi./136 km
Disneyland: 110 mi./176 km
Hollywood: 89 mi./142 km
LAX: 92 mi./148 km
San Diego: 228 mi./367 km
San Francisco: 332 mi./534 km
Santa Barbara is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone, 8 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
In dress, as in most other respects, Santa Barbara style is comfortable and casual, though evening wear may be dressier in some places. Throughout the county, you'll be most comfortable if you layer your clothing. Early mornings, evenings and nights may be cool enough for a sweater, but daytime temperatures in the seaside areas and the drier, hotter wine country and valley regions are comfortable enough for short sleeves. Check out Santa Barbara weather for current conditions and the forecast.
RULES TO REMEMBER
It is illegal in California for anyone under 21 years old to consume alcohol in any quantity. To purchase alcohol in a bar, restaurant or store, you must be able to produce photographic identification that proves your age. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is a serious offense in California. A person is considered legally drunk when the concentration of alcohol in his or her blood is at or above .08%.
In California, the driver and all passengers must wear their seatbelts at all times when traveling in a car. Any child too small to be protected by a seatbelt must be secured in a child safety seat.
California law prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, theaters, auditoriums, museums and most other public buildings.
Keep your eyes on the road, as California law prevents drivers from using hand-held devices while operating a motor vehicle. Play it safe and use a hands-free controller if you must use a phone while on the road.
For all life-threatening medical, fire and police emergencies, call 911.
For non-emergency calls, dial the following numbers:
- Buellton: 805-681-5500 (fire), 805-686-8150 (police)
- Carpinteria: 805-684-4591 (fire), 805-684-4561 (police)
- Gaviota: 805-681-5500 (fire), 805-681-4100 (police)
- Goleta: 805-681-5500 (fire), 805-681-4100 (police)
- Isla Vista: 805-681-5500 (fire), 805-681-4179 (police)
- Lompoc: 805-736-4513 (fire), 805-736-0159 (police)
- Montecito: 805-969-7762 (fire), 805-684-4561 (police)
- Santa Barbara: 805-965-5254 (fire), 805-897-2300 (police)
- Santa Ynez: 805-686-5000 (fire), 805-686-5000 (police)
- Solvang: 805-686-5000 (police)
- Summerland: 805-684-4591 (fire), 805-684-4561 (police)
CURRENCY & BANKING
Bank-card, bank-cash and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located throughout the city. Members of participating banking networks and credit card companies can obtain U.S. currency by using an ATM card or credit card and a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you need to exchange foreign currency, contact Paul A. Brombal (3601-A State St., 805-687-3641), open Monday - Friday 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
- 1933 Cliff Drive, Suite 5
- Santa Barbara, CA 93109
- Information: (805) 965-3302
- 120 East Clark Ave
- Orcutt, CA 93455
- Information: (805) 937-2747
- Call or email for more information
- Escondido, CA 92027
- Information: (310) 406-0031
- 113 Harbor Way Waterfront Center 4th Floor
- Santa Barbara, CA 93109
- Information: 805.884.1475
- 2020 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite #135
- Santa Barbara, CA 93103
- Information: 805.966.1266
- 3601-A State Street
- Santa Barbara, CA 93105
- Information: (805) 687-3641