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Sandwiched between the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the chic palm-lined city of Santa Barbara is perhaps best explored by car. Hire a car and visit the city's outer beach suburbs, or head north and explore the quaint towns in Santa Ynez Valley, widely known as Santa Barbara Wine Country thanks to an abundance of vineyards and wineries.
Santa Barbara's wide palm-lined streets and beachside boulevards offer some amazing scenic drives. Get a feel for Santa Barbara on a drive along State Street, the main vein which runs through downtown to Stearns Wharf, and East and West Beaches on the waterfront, then head down East Cabrillo Boulevard, which runs along the coast. Street parking in the city or in parking lots near the beaches is plentiful and generally free for the first 75 minutes, then small charges may apply.
A hundred miles north of LA, Santa Barbara is a popular stop off on the scenic US Highway 101 which runs along the California's Pacific Coast. Like much of the US, the area is easy to explore by hire car, the roads are wide and straightforward, and there are plenty of diners, attractions and roadside accommodation stops en route.
Hiring a rental car in Santa Barbara gives you the freedom to make the most of your time in California. From your base in Santa Barbara, head out to the city's upmarket suburbs of Montecito and Mesa. Or you could drive 30 miles north into hill country and the Santa Ynez Valley, to visit the quaint towns of Buellton, and Danish-inspired Solvang. And spend an evening at the Chumash Casino resort near Santa Ynez town.
Whether Santa Barbara is a stop off on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip or a base to explore the region, hiring a rental car will give open up Santa Barbara for you.