Santa Barbara is the perfect base for the quintessential Californian holiday. Tucked between the mountains and the waves, outdoor lovers and surfers will thrive in this stunning and vibrant city.
This city is all about sun, sea, and sunsets. As a more upmarket version of Santa Cruz, with gorgeous Spanish architecture and inspiring museums, chic boutiques, trendy wine bars, and top-class seafood, it’s no wonder more and more people are choosing to spend their vacations in Santa Barbara.
But with vacation rentals popping up all over the city, choosing a place to stay in this picturesque city is becoming a difficult task. From all-out luxury to affordable tiny homes, there is a suitable vacation rental in Santa Barbara for all types of travelers. The hardest part is separating the wheat from the chaff.
So to make this hard task even easier for you, we have sorted through the mills and found the best 20 vacation rentals in Santa Barbara so you can concentrate on putting together your ultimate itinerary.
Quick Answer: These are the Top 5 Vacation Rentals in Santa Barbara
5BR Beach House
- > $$
- > 13 guests
- > Located between downtown Santa Barbara and UCSB
- > Chic interiors and stunning outdoors
2 BR Cottage
- > $
- > 6 guests
- > Located close to Downtown Santa Barbara
- > The quintessential Santa Barbara cottage
2BR Beach House
- > $$$
- > 5 guests
- > Located in East Beach
- > Aesthetically decorated 2 BR
2BR Villa in West Beach
- > $$
- > 6 guests
- > Located in West Beach
- > 2 bedroom villa near the beach, Funk zone, pier and harbor
4BR W/ Ocean Views
- > $$$
- > 8 guests
- > Located in East Mesa
- > Views over Leadbetter Beach
Looking for other types of accommodation? Check out our guide to Where to Stay in Santa Barbara!
Types of Accommodation in Santa Barbara
In this list of the best 20 vacation rentals in Santa Barbara, you’ll find homes that are definitely not your standard hotel or resort option.
While hotels can get hideously expensive, they also lack the unique and homely experiences that make vacation rentals such a unique place to stay in. However, all of the picks on our list come with something memorable and many of them come at affordable prices – so you won’t have to sell an organ to afford your Santa Barbara vacation after all.
So what are the predominant types of vacation rentals in Santa Barbara? Let’s take a look…
Waterfront Holiday Homes
I mean, Santa Barbara does attract the vast majority of its tourists because of its drop-dead gorgeous beaches. So can you blame people for wanting a vacation rental that faces the open seas, right? There is an increasing number of vacation rentals in Santa Barbara that are ocean-facing, and not all of them have heart-attack-inducing prices.
Waterfront properties also give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy some breathtaking Californian sunsets from the comfort of “your” home. If you’re not looking for sightseeing and just want some downtime with a good book, then I really can’t see a better place to stay than in a waterfront holiday home in Santa Barbara. You can sit back with a glass of wine and feel the breeze in your hair, get lost in those mesmerizing sunset colors- what else could one ask for!
Click on the link below for some of the best waterfront properties in Santa Barbara.
Downtown Vacation Rentals
So you don’t consider yourself to be much of a beach person? Do you prefer to be at the heart of all the action, perhaps in a place where you can take in the vibrancy of the city and enjoy a delicious meal and thriving nightlife? If this sounds like you, you will absolutely love Downtown Santa Barbara!
Downtown Santa Barbara is full of amazing places to shop, eat and wander around to your heart’s content. Think unique boutiques, historical landmarks, interesting museums, and art galleries all in a picture-perfect setting.
Staying in Santa Barbara also means that you have first-hand access to spots that locals like to haunt, giving you the opportunity to relish the true essence of this sunny Californian city. Whether you choose to stay in an apartment overlooking the city, or in an elegant Spanish-style villa, downtown Santa Barbara does not disappoint.
Family Friendly Holiday Rentals
There is absolutely no dearth of family-friendly holiday rentals in Santa Barbara. If you are traveling with kids, you will probably want a full kitchen and perhaps even a laundry room for those accidental spills. We’ve got plenty of accommodation options with those facilities in our list below to choose from.
We will be honest with you, Santa Barbara is not the cheapest of places to vacation in, but a great way to cut costs is to cook and eat at home, if possible. If this sounds like something you would not mind doing on a vacation, get yourself a vacation rental that has a fully equipped kitchen that is stocked with the basic essentials. Some places even offer a limited breakfast included in the nightly rate. If you get something like that in a decent location, you’ve probably saved yourself quite a bit of money already!
For families, the neighborhood you stay in will also back a big difference to your vacation as you’ll want to be near to all the main attractions. Take a look at our guide on where to stay in Santa Barabara which details what neighborhoods are best for each type of traveler.
Click on the link below for some family-friendly holiday rental options in Santa Barbara.
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The Top 20 Vacation Rentals in Santa Barbara
Now that you’ve probably got a good idea of what kind of place to look for, it is time to jump into our top 21 picks. Some of these places are truly striking while giving you immense value for money.
In fact, we won’t be surprised if you have trouble deciding between these amazing vacation rentals in Santa Barbara. Enjoy!
Overall Best Holiday Rental in Santa Barbara | 1BR Apt in West Beach
This charming one-bedroom rental unit consists of comes modestly furnished with a sizeable kitchen and living area, a comfortable double bed, and a spacious bathroom.
It is primely located in West Beach with easy access to all the major attractions in the city and is also listed for an affordable price, which makes it our overall best place to stay in Santa Barbara.
There is a pull-out couch in the living area which turns into a double bed, so if you’re traveling as a couple or as two couples, this would be the ideal place to stay.
Best Pet-Friendly Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | Downtown Unit
Sometimes, you don’t want to leave your pet behind, especially if you might be traveling for an extended period of time. This property is super pet friendly because it has a patio outside for them to do their business.
This property does require you to keep your pet with you at all times and there is a small additional fee for pets, but this is usual for vacation rentals.
The suite itself has been kitted out with all the modern fixtures and fittings, including air conditioning to make your stay truly comfortable (you’ll need it in Santa Barbara!). The kitchenette includes a washing machine, while the bathroom has a luxurious rain shower.
Best Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara for a Weekend | 3 BR Home
While this is a more luxurious property, it is a very comfortable vacation home with everything you would need for an enjoyable weekend stay with friends.
The home has three bedrooms and a spacious living area for an evening socializing with your mates. This holiday home in Santa Barbara also has a beautiful patio with a yard and private pool, giving you the perfect place to hang out outside during a famous Santa Barbara sunset.
Each room comes with a large double bed and there is a separate sofa bed in the living area, so there is plenty of space for up to seven guests. It is also located in the quiet Hope Ranch neighborhood and has beach access near the property.
Best Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara for 2 Couples | 2BR Beach Home
This cute beach house vacation rental near East Beach is located just 1.5 miles out from Leadbetter Beach, making it a great base for your Santa Barbara holiday.
It is equipped with the latest kitchen gadgets and equipment, including a coffee machine and dishwasher. This holiday home is large and spacious and gets heaps of natural light.
There is also a small outdoor garden with an outdoor table that is perfect for sitting in and sipping that glass of wine in the evening. The house is enclosed by hedges giving you heaps of privacy.
Best Unique Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 1BR Glass Cottage
In all my travels, I have hardly ever come across a setting as beautiful and unique as this vacation rental in Santa Barbara.
This cottage is made entirely of glass and reflects the beautiful forest that surrounds it. To be in the midst of nature to this extent and yet have all modern conveniences at your disposal is truly unique and luxurious. This is certainly one of the most unique Airbnbs in Santa Barbara we have ever seen.
This rental is perfect for the couple who wants to go off the grid and yet have restaurants and shopping malls close by too.
Most Romantic Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 1BR Airstream
If you are into unique stays that go the extra mile to make guests happy, you will probably fall in love with this charming 2022 Airstream.
While it may look like a small space from the outside, it has been designed to give you the best of all amenities. With heaps of bang for your buck, this property comes with everything you need for a comfortable stay, including a queen-sized bed, your own personal fire pit, comfy outdoor lounge area, and (drumroll please!) your very own hot tub.
You can soak in the hot tub while you marvel at the stars overhead, so simple lounge by the fire pit on a colder night – you can do both in this fabulous holiday rental in Santa Barbara.
Best Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara with a View | 2BR Loft W/ Views
With views for days, this vacation rental is perfect for a family with up to four (preferably unfussy) kids. We say this because the master bedroom has a king-sized bed, the second bedroom has a bunk bed and there is a sofa bed that can sleep two in the lounge area.
The rental has two bathrooms, so there’s no need for the entire family to share one single space. The kitchen is fully equipped with everything needed to cook a meal from scratch.
The loft does sit on top of a fitness studio, but this will be perfect for those health-conscious travelers who hate to miss out on their workout sessions.
Best Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara for Friends | 4 BR Home
With loads of natural light coming in through from all directions, this rental is perfect for those who love to be close to the water.
With four bedrooms and seven beds, plus three bathrooms, there is plenty of space for a group of friends to spread out and have a good time. There is also a garden with a hot tub for guests to enjoy.
There is a sparkling clean kitchen if you wish to cook, and a beautiful balcony if you want to soak up the view. Located just a few blocks from the beach, this is the ideal location for a beach getaway with friends.
Best Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara for Families | 2BR Villa
This beautifully decorated and spacious two-bedroom villa is located in the vibrant neighborhood of West Beach. This means that you are super close to Stearns Wharf, State Street, and the Harbour.
The house is a 1940s villa that has been remodeled with state-of-the-art amenities and contemporary furnishings to bring it into the 21st century.
The house is perfect for a family with two bathrooms and a location that is perfect for kids and adults alike. This home is also warm and cozy and has a beautiful living area that the whole family can gather around in.
Best Villa Rental in Santa Barbara | 3BR Spanish Villa
This vacation rental is a stunning combination of Andalusian Spain and Santa Barbara. The interiors are stunning and feature polished Spanish tile floors and whitewashed stone surfaces.
Stand on one of the four decks of the house and you will hear the babbling of your private fountain. The master bedroom comes with an ensuite bathroom that has an extra deep Jacuzzi for those luxurious soaks after a full day of exploring Santa Barbara.
Guests can also bring their pets along as long as they have informed the owner at the time of booking the rental.
Centrally Located Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 3BR West Beach Casa
West Beach is one of Santa Barbara’s most vibrant neighborhoods and this charming home is located right in the heart of it.
Lovingly called Casa Azzurra or loosely translated to ‘Sky Blue Home’, the interiors of this home are white with wooden floors and ceilings. The bedrooms are all spacious and there are two and a half bathrooms, meaning that there’s enough space for everyone.
If you are considering traveling with your pet, a small dog is also allowed in the house, the kitchen is fully equipped with everything you may need. If you are traveling with children or infants, a pack and play portable crib and high chair may be provided on request.
Best Pool in a Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 4BR Spanish Villa
You’ve seen beautiful pools and you’ve seen stunning vacation rentals, but I bet you have never seen a pool in a rental like this! I mean, talk about a view, am I right?!
This Spanish-style villa is set on 40 acres of land, complete with a pool, Jacuzzi, and a BBQ. With four bedrooms and two bathrooms, there’s plenty of space for the entire family in this villa that measures more than 2800 square feet.
Many of Santa Barbara’s attractions are a short drive away, including Santa Barbara’s famous botanical gardens, and all the restaurants and boutiques on State Street.
Most Beautiful Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 3 BR Home in Nature
Breathe in some fresh air and take in the beauty of nature when you choose to stay in this European-style, three-bedroom home.
This is a great place for travelers who like secluded vacation rentals while remaining a short drive away from modern conveniences. The house has a lovely deck with lounge chairs for a spot of evening wine or even some morning coffee.
The grounds are dotted with tall trees and flowering shrubs. With a lovely fireplace for colder nights, the house is very spacious and great for a family who loves to hike or go on walks together.
Most Luxurious Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 4BR W/ Ocean Views
Imagine waking up to views like these. I mean, Santa Barbara is known for its exceptional coastline, but to be able to stroll out onto the lanai and soak in your own hot tub with views of the ocean is another feeling altogether.
The house is beautifully designed with a fully equipped kitchen that wants nothing but ingredients to cook your meal.
The four bedrooms are spacious, with lots of natural light. There is a cute sheltered garden on the lanai that gives this home just the right amount of charm. Look at the pictures of this vacation rental in Santa Barbara and judge for yourself.
Holiday Rental in Santa Barbara with Mountain Views | 2 BR Townhouse
If rustic is your style, this character home will definitely pique your interest. More than a hundred years old, this home was made by American Indians from the old mission church.
It has adobe walls and old wooden floors, giving the entire house a unique old-school feel, but has been refurbished with modern amenities.
There is enough space for everyone in this vacation rental, with multiple beds and bed types. The master bedroom gets the most beautiful sunrise views and the house is surrounded by the most remarkable walking trails.
Best Beach House Holiday Rental in Santa Barbara | 3 BR Home
This remodeled beach home is perfect for those who like their vacation rentals absolutely spotless. The soft furnishings are all super luxurious, with the house itself being perfect for a family vacation or even a quick getaway with friends.
This rental gets heaps of natural light, making the overall feel of the house super airy and bright. The kitchen has been kitted out with state-of-the-art appliances that make cooking easy.
The only thing to look out for is that the house has only one bathroom. If this is something that wouldn’t bother you too much, go ahead and book this rental for your Santa Barbara vacay.
Best Budget Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 2 BR Cottage
They say that good things come in small packages. This might be especially true of this two-bedroom cottage.
While this vacation rental in Santa Barbara might not be huge on space, it makes up in terms of charm and amenities. The owner of the home is an architect, meaning that the house has been designed smartly, to make most of the space.
If you are a group of friends, gathering in the outdoor area by the fire pit might be the highlight of your trip. The house is only two blocks away from State Street, meaning you are close to some wonderful eateries and restaurants.
Affordable Luxury Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 2 BR Home
This Mediterranean-style villa is the epitome of affordable luxury. While the house does have an additional day bed in the second bedroom, we think that this rental would be more comfortable for four adult guests and perhaps a child.
The interiors of this villa are gorgeous with pops of color in the furnishings and the stunning turquoise doors. The villa also has an outdoor kitchen, complete with a grill, a countertop, and a sink, if cooking with a view is your thing! There are stunning views of the Santa Ynez Mountains on offer too.
Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara for families with infants | Bungalow
If you are a family traveling with infants and need to use a stroller, this might be the perfect Santa Barbara holiday home for you because it is a single-story building. This three-bedroom rental is a single-storeyed home with a large backyard.
There is a separate smaller cottage on the grounds too, with a separate bedroom and bathroom away from the main vacation rental.
The backyard has beautiful flowering plants and a private hot tub. The Spanish Sautillo tile deck also has a BBQ with a special bun steamer, no pun intended! This vacation rental is the perfect base for you if you would like to be close to Downtown Santa Barbara.
Best Overall Vacation Rental in Santa Barbara | 5BR Beach House
Save the best for the last, as they say! This rental is great for larger groups of friends or a family reunion. It has been designed using interiors that are a mix of modern and luxury.
The house is very spacious and with five bedrooms, each with king or queen-sized beds – the fifth bedroom also has three single beds, so there’s space for 13 guests to sleep comfortably.
There are three bathrooms in the house, and a unique jungle shower outdoors to rinse off any sand from the nearby private beach – the perfect place to watch the sun go down.
Santa Barbara is a wonderful place for all types of travelers to enjoy. Whether you’re after a relaxed, chill vacation catching some sun and waves on the gorgeous coastline or you’re looking to dance the night away at a local nightclub or explore the outdoor activities in the mountains. There are heaps to see and do in Santa Barbara.
We hope this list of vacation rentals in Santa Barbara has given you some ideas for places to stay. If we had a favorite, we would choose one, we would definitely go for a beach house on the water where we can sit out on our porch and watch the sunset. Which would you choose? Let us know in the comments.
And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads. To find out why I use World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
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