Santa Barbara County
Most ground travel in Santa Barbara County is north or south, with the occasional crossover on an east-west state route. U.S. 101, the sole federal highway, is supplemented by nine state routes including state Route 1, the storied Pacific Coast Highway. Pacific Ocean surf forms the county’s western boundary, and much of the east is roadless, devoted to protected forest, mountains and wilderness. Backcountry around Vandenberg Air Force Base, along the coast northwest of Lompoc, is off-limits to development and the public as well, and offers refuge to endangered coastal species.
Los Angeles International Airport, 92 miles away, is the closest mega-air connection, but both Santa Maria and Santa Barbara have airports served by commercial flights, and Lompoc and Santa Ynez airports accommodate private planes. Central Coast Shuttle provides services to and from Santa Maria, Buellton, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Airport and Ventura to Los Angeles International Airport. Visit Central Coast Shuttle at www.centralcoastshuttle.com or call 800-470-8818.
Amtrak has two busy full stations, one in Goleta and another in Santa Barbara, and the Pacific Surfliner makes a dozen daily trips between nearby San Luis Obispo and San Diego. Special racks on the train bristle with passengers’ bikes and surfboards.
Santa Barbara County is served by Greyhound Lines, with stations in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, and by several metropolitan transit districts.
Santa Barbara Airport
500 Fowler Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93117 805-683-4011
Santa Barbara Airport is west of Santa Barbara proper, in Goleta, and state Route 217 emerges there from U.S. 101. The Spanish-style terminal with its red tile roof, dark wood beams and old mission garden of fragrant jasmine and bougainvillea is served by Alaska, American and United airlines.
Car-rental agencies have offices at the airport, and ground transportation includes taxis, door-to-door shuttle companies and Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District public buses. A bus stop is directly across Moffett Street from the terminal’s south lobby, where bus schedules can be obtained or accessed at www.sbmtd.gov.
Santa Maria Public Airport
3249 Terminal Drive
Santa Maria, CA 93455 805-922-1726
Santa Maria Public Airport, 3 miles south of the city of Santa Maria off U.S. 101, is a general aviation airport served by two commercial airlines, Mokulele Airlines (which connects to LAX) and Allegiant Air (which connects travelers to Las Vegas). It is home base for more than 200 general aviation aircraft, parking is free, and there’s a hotel for travelers.
Travelers can choose from car-rental companies as well as a shuttle, taxicab and limo services, the Breeze Bus for terminal pickups and drop-offs, and bus transportation by way of Santa Maria Area Transit Route 8.
209 State St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101 800-872-7245
25 S. La Patera Lane
Goleta, CA 93117 800-872-7245
Amtrak has seven other connections in Santa Barbara County in addition to its full stations in Santa Barbara and Goleta: Carpinteria and Surf (platform); Solvang, Buellton, Lompoc and Santa Maria (bus pickup); and Guadalupe (unstaffed station).
Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District
1020 Chapala St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101 905-963-3366
The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District serves the south part of the county from its hub in downtown Santa Barbara where staffers can help riders plan their routes.
Other Santa Barbara Transit Options
Late-evening service between Isla Vista and Santa Barbara: “I drank, Bill drove.”
Clean Air Express
Service is available for residents of Santa Barbara County commuting between Santa Barbara or Goleta and Lompoc or Santa Maria.
Easy Lift is a nonprofit organization that offers paratransit service for those whose disabilities prevent their use of fixed-route public transportation.
Santa Barbara Airbus
Santa Barbara Airbus makes trips daily between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles International Airport.
SmartRide matches carpool and vanpool partners.
Vista Costal Express
Vista Costal Express offers transportation between Santa Barbara and Ventura.
City of Lompoc Transit
COLT provides public transportation within Lompoc, Mission Hills and Vandenberg Village. Fixed-route service and on-call paratransit service for the disabled are available.
Special COLT routes include the Wine Country Express, a circuit through Lompoc, Buellton and Solvang three times each day; round-trip rides to Santa Barbara every Tuesday and Thursday; and nightly student service from Hancock College to students’ homes.
Santa Maria Area Transit
City of Santa Maria buses carry passengers along more than a dozen routes within the city and the county. On-call paratransit service for the disabled also is available. The Santa Maria Breeze Bus provides weekday transportation between Santa Maria, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, Los Alamos, Buellton and Solvang.
Santa Ynez Valley Transit
The Santa Ynez Valley Transit system is a combined effort by Buellton, Solvang and the county of Santa Barbara that links Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang.
Driving and Climate
Santa Barbara County is traversed by one U.S. highway and nine state routes.
U.S. Highway 101 travels the length of the county and links it to San Francisco, 263 miles north of Santa Maria, and Los Angeles, 92 miles south of Santa Barbara. Its mostly four-lane, intersection-free roadway gets heavy commuter use from workers to the north traveling to and from jobs in the south, and the average commute, the U.S. Census says, is about 20 minutes.
State Route 1, the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway from Baja California, to the Olympic Peninsula, piggybacks U.S. 101 into the county but splits off at Gaviota to reconnect briefly at Grover Beach well to the north. The 8-mile state Route 33 triangulates the county’s extreme eastern corner by way of the hamlet of Ventucopa.
State Route 135 begins at Los Alamos, south of Santa Maria, and serves as the major north-south expressway across Santa Maria before hooking up with U.S. 101 at the Santa Maria River to the city’s north. State Route 144 is an urban connection that originates at U.S. 101 in Santa Barbara and ends at Sycamore Canyon Road, still under the city’s sway.
The old stagecoach route, state Route 154, is called the Chumash Highway after the Native Americans who lived in the region. The two-laner was the main road before Highway 101 and is a scenic alternative to its upstart successor between Santa Barbara and Los Olivos.
State Route 166 begins in Guadalupe, due west of Santa Maria, as Main Street, then makes an 8-mile beeline into Santa Maria, still as Main Street, until Highway 101 absorbs it. State Route 192 wiggles southward between Highway 101 and the foothills from Santa Barbara to state Highway 150 near the Ventura County line.
State Route 217 is a 2½-mile spur freeway that connects the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport to U.S. 101.
The main connection between U.S. 101 and the Dane-founded community of Solvang, a major tourist attraction, state Route 246 heads from Lompoc through the Santa Barbara Wine Country along the Santa Ynez River, to terminate at the northern end of state Route 154. State Route 246 passes by two of Santa Barbara County’s three Spanish missions: Santa Ines in Solvang, and La Purisima Concepcion near Lompoc.
California Department of Motor Vehicles
The California Department of Motor Vehicles issues driver’s licenses, identification cards and vehicle registration and provides other driving-related services. Find many of the required forms and general information online.
DMV Offices in Santa Barbara County
City of Goleta
7127 Hollister Ave., Suite 24/26
Goleta, CA 93117 800-777-0133
City of Lompoc
209 W. Pine St.
Lompoc, CA 93436 800-777-0133
City of Santa Barbara
535 Castillo St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101 800-777-0133
City of Santa Maria
523 S. McClelland St.
Santa Maria, CA 93454 800-777-0133
Military personnel and their spouses who are stationed in California from elsewhere may continue to drive with a valid driver’s license from their home state, but in general, all California residents who want to drive must apply for a driver’s license once residency is established.
The state spells out what is required for licensing and insurance under various scenarios in its California Driver Manual, which can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/y8d82bje.
California prohibits drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers 18 and older may use a hands-free device. Reading, writing or sending text messages is also prohibited while driving for any purpose — including looking at driving directions on a GPS or operating your entertainment system.
Applications associated with driving and vehicle registration are available online at www.dmv.ca.gov/vr/vr.htm, including DMV forms, requests for driving records and more.
California Department of Transportation
Visit the California Department of Transportation website for interactive maps, information about road closures and travel advisories, and to view live traffic cameras.