Top Day Trip Destinations From Santa Barbara

Zack Garhart
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With a great central location, Santa Barbara offers plenty of places for you to explore while you’re in town.

These are our top day trip destinations from Santa Barbara.

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For starters, the proximity to Joshua Tree National Park makes Santa Barbara a great launching point for a day trip to the desert. With renowned hikes and a tranquil setting, Joshua Tree offers travelers a chance to truly step out and enjoy nature. The drive to Joshua Tree National Park is roughly four hours long, so plan to leave early if you want to get there with time to enjoy the sunset!

The scenery is what makes Joshua Tree special, and backpackers love taking to the open land for a few days at a time. We recommend heading up to Joshua Tree in spring and fall since the weather is at its best during those times. When you’re there, check out our Coyote Ranch Hostel! This is a perfect place to unwind and meet fellow travelers, and do so on a budget.

Compare beaches by cruising down to San Diego. People rave about San Diego’s weather, and for good reason! With moderate temperatures year-round, and summers that are perfect for lounging at the beach, San Diego is a must-visit. While you’re exploring San Diego, consider staying in one of our hostels.

For a more upbeat, party vibe, try our Beach Bungalow at Pacific Beach. If you’re looking for a quiet night by the beach, head to our Backpackers Hostel in Mission Beach. Downtown San Diego has a vibrant nightlife, so our Adventure Hostel in Little Italy perfectly suits your needs if this is your vibe! It takes a few hours to get from Santa Barbara to San Diego, but the drive down is spectacular.

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Since Santa Barbara is more chill, consider heading up to the big city by traveling to San Francisco. The city by the bay offers unparalleled culture, food, and sights. With world-class dining and plenty of things to do, San Francisco is a must-see for those traveling to California. We recommend timing your trip out to avoid arriving during rush hour since traffic can get thick! Once you’re there, head over to our Pacific Tradewinds Hostel. This great central location allows you to walk to the top sights in San Francisco and feel safe there!

One last nature retreat that we would recommend as a top day trip destination from Santa Barbara is Yosemite National Park. Roughly 300 miles away from Santa Barbara, you will need a car to get here. But this world-renowned park has everything from meadows and cliffs to waterfalls and some of the world’s tallest trees. There are often closures on roads going in or out of Yosemite, so always check the website before making the trip up there! No matter what, Yosemite National Park remains one of California’s top destinations.

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With plenty to do and see in Santa Barbara, we recommend getting out and exploring the surrounding areas. What better way than to pick one of these top day trip destinations from Santa Barbara!

For more information on towns and nearby attractions, watch this video for more recommendations!

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