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Recent Publications and Web Articles

The project and website have received publicity in more than 75 newspapers around the country, including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Ventura Star, Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, the Oakland Tribune, the Seattle Times, and others. It has also been featured in television stories, travel publications, and on travel websites. We've received comments about the project, both on survey cards and unsolicited emails and postcards. Here's a sample of what people are saying.

NBC Los Angeles - March 27, 2015 - see article

Deals and Delights: Car-Free in the American Riviera

Santa Barbara Car Free is a coalition that keeps the discounts, deals, and specials coming via dozens of local businesses. That is, of course, if you've taken the train to the American Riviera and have a ticket to show for your ride. It's an ongoing good thing that is good-thing-ing up the remainder of 2015, through New Year's Eve. Once you have that ticket and you start waving it around town you'll find a whole bunch of discounted doings to enjoy, like free admission at Casa Dolores (eye thousands of ancient objects made of clay, wood, and more at the museum) and a 2-for-1 wine tasting. There are also discounts on things that move, from bikes to boats, so save a few bucks on Santa Barbara Trolley Tours, fifty bucks off per couple at Segway of Santa Barbara, and thirty percent off at Wheel Fun Rentals of Santa Barbara (those charming surreys are symbolic of playtime close to the shore). So, you train it into town, only to save on other stuff that moves? Wise, very wise.

Examiner - February 18, 2015 - see article

Santa Barbara's ticket to ride brings big savings to visitors

With the warm spring-like weather we're experiencing in Los Angeles, a trip to Santa Barbara's seashore sounds like a ticket to ride. And it is with the city ramping up its "Your Ticket to Santa Barbara Car Free Experiences" offer with wine tasting, sailing cruises, horseback riding, bicycle and walking tours as well as hotel savings, amenities and more. All you need to do is take the train, show your Amtrak ticket and you’re in for some mighty fine deal. Besides cutting costs while you're there, you'll also save a bundle on gas since prices at the pump are on the rise again.

Green Traveler Guides - December 22, 2014 - see article

Santa Barbara grows up (and gets green)

A group of enterprising developers, architects, designers and restauranteurs saw the gaping hole in this international tourist destination: they decided to fill it with green construction and businesses, and a non-corporate-driven hospitality industry...[The Hotel Indigo] is set up for green exploration. Free cruiser bikes for guests, as well as discounts for those who arrive car-free (part of its alliance with the Santa Barbara Car Free initiative)...

Frommers - November 12, 2014 - see article

Take Amtrak to a Fabulous Santa Barbara Car Free Getaway

We had not been on a train in years, so when invited to experience a weekend getaway on the rails that was “drive free,” we jumped at the opportunity... A nice accompaniment to the Amtrak Santa Barbara Car Free getaway is the many establishments that provide discounts to Amtrak ticket holders. Get a list of who is participating from The website also provides insight into what is available to do while in Santa Barbara.

Orange County Register - October 1, 2014 - see article

A trip to Santa Barbara needn't exhaust your savings

...“Car Free Santa Barbara” offers 20 percent off Amtrak fares, and other discounts as well. Note that kids ride for half price on Amtrak all the time. The website also offers lodging and things to do that will give you a discount if you show your Amtrak ticket. Learn more here:

KEYT - June 25,2014 - see video

AMTRAK Coast Starlight Drops Price for Summer Travelers North of Santa Barbara

AMTRAK has a summertime deal for travelers that could save them some vacation dollars.

The Coast Starlight passengers traveling from areas north of Santa Barbara can get a 15 percent discount.

They will also be qualified for an array of bargains when they arrive in Santa Barbara under -what's called a - "Car Free" program as they go on tours, whale watching, visit museum or take bike rides.  That's coordinated through the Air Pollution Control District...

Sydney Morning Herald - June 5, 2014 - see article

Twenty Reasons to Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara prides itself on its environmental consciousness, actively encouraging visitors to explore the city on foot or bicycle via the community-led Santa Barbara Car Free Project... - May 20, 2014 - see post

Santa Barbara Car Free Grand Prize Winner at Earth Day Has Local Roots

Hugh Kelly was the grand prize winner of the Santa Barbara Car Free Earth Day drawing this year, winning a pair of round-trip tickets to Portland or Seattle on the Amtrak Coast Starlight — with roomette accommodations and meals included.

Kelly, who biked to Earth Day, is president of the board of the Mesa Harmony Garden, a collaborative volunteer effort to convert unused land to a food forest to grow food and donate it to local organizations that serve people in need, such as the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.

Kelly embodies the “Local Roots” theme of this year’s Santa Barbara Earth Day, and is actively implementing two key initiatives highlighted this year by the Community Environmental Council, which presents the event: “Drive Less” and “Eat Local.” - May 2, 2014 - see post

Santa Barbara celebrates National Train Day with Show your Train Ticket promo

With gas prices soaring and freeway traffic worse than ever taking trains seems like a no brainer. And to entice folks to ride the rails rather than gas-guzzling cars and trucks, Santa Barbara is running a Show your Train Ticket promotion that gives you free entry to many local attractions.

Launched in celebration of National Train Day and the 75th anniversary of Los Angeles Union Station on May 3, 2014, the promotion features everything from bicycle tours, kayak adventures, unique hotel gifts, walking tours, wine tastings and more...

NBCLA -  April 17, 2014 - see post

Car-Free Fun at Santa Barbara's Earth Day

...And we say "rethink your mode of arrival" because the Santa Barbara Car-Free Project is quite the active organization, throughout the year, but definitely when it comes time for the springtime celebration of all our planet.  The project is sweetening the prospect of attending for people, with a chance at prizes for those who leave their vehicle back home and show up at Alameda Park on Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27 without their usual vroom-vroom..."

US Airways In-Fight Magazine -  April, 2014 - see page 88 of Magazine

Auto Not Required

Enjoy the sights, scenes, and tastes of Santa Barbara from the comfort of your sneaks...Santa Barbara Car Free, founded and led by Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, has more than 100 community partners to help you make the most of your car free experience.

LA Daily News - February 13, 2014 - see post

Pali Wine Co., Amtrack offering special getaway during 'Jamzilla'

..."Jamzilla" is making another appearance on the San Diego Freeway.  Might be a good time to get out of town. And Pali Wine Co. and Amtrak have come up with a pretty nifty package. It's called the "Train-Crossed Lovers" promotion and includes a discounted train ticket from the Los Angeles area to Santa Barbara. The discount is available at

LA Times - February 11, 2014 - see post

Stumped for Valentine's Day? One Solution involves a train, wine and Santa Barbara

...Pali Wine Co. has you covered with a special Valentine offer dubbed "Train Crossed Lovers." For the upcoming long holiday weekend complete with another I-405 closure, the Santa Barbara tasting room is offering a Valentine's Day special to anyone who arrives like the folks on Downtown Abbey -- by train. Amtrak is getting in on the act with a 20% discount on Pacific Surfliner trains...

NBCLA - January 29, 2014 - see post

Santa Barbara Weekend: Ride the Train, Save Dough

...And it involves the rails, which should stoke everyone's romantic definition of getting out of town. Register at Santa Barbara Car Free and nab 20% reservations on an Amtrak Pacific Surfliner ride into the American Riviera ...We do love when the getting to some place -- and the getting home -- boasts significant savings, and we love when it has an eco-nice theme to it, too...

Travel Brigade - November 2, 2013 - listen to show

Santa Barbara: From the Mission to the Funk Zone

Santa Barbara is the perfect town to hang out and soak up the beautiful sunny weather. We’ll also tell you how you can enjoy all sorts of discounts on hotels, dining and activities by pledging to go “Car Free” in a town that’s easy to get around. Enjoy the trip!

NBCLA - October 29, 2013 - see post

 Santa Barbara First: Open Streets Event

...bicycles are claiming major avenues more often, and many cities are following the CicLAvia model and venturing into the world of the Huge Weekend Day Closed Street Roll (cue dramatic music). Next up is Santa Barbara, a town that's done rather well with the whole "everyone on their bikes and trikes" thing; Santa Barbara Car Free is the go-to org for bike-loving train-riding discounts and money-saving stay-overs and such. The city is taking that cycling 'n sunshine spirit and stepping it up nine or ten notches, or spokes, rather, with Santa Barbara Open Streets, which pedals into the city on Saturday, Nov. 2....

KCLU - October 29, 2013 - see radio piece

Major South Coast Street To Be Closed this Weekend To Try To Get People Out On Bikes, Foot

 One South Coast community is closing one of its most popular streets to vehicles this coming Saturday, to try to get people out on foot. KCLU’s Lance Orozco reports Santa Barbara is going to try its first ever Open Streets event.

City Weekly - Salt Lake City - July 29, 2013 - see post

Santa Barbara Getaway - Glamorous But Accessible Beach Town

...A big part of what makes Santa Barbara enjoyable is you don't need a car to get around... The Santa Barbara Car Free project lets visitors get great dscounts on hotels, restaurants and activities for going car free...



Off - June, 2013 - see post

Weekend Getaway: Santa Barbara's Funk Zone

...Streamlined and modern, the Hotel Indigo (121 State Street) takes the boutique hotel experience to a whole new level... Plus, as part of the Santa Barbara Car Free program, the hotel offers $10 off room rates (from $170) for any guests who come without a car. The Eagle Inn (232 Natoma Avenue), a sweet family-run spot just a couple blocks up from the beach, also offers car-free discounts on its homey guest rooms (from $120). Set in a pretty Spanish-style building, the bed and breakfast offers free bike rentals, breakfast, and afternoon cookies...

NBC San Diego - June 18, 2013 - see post

Santa Barbara, Seen from Two Wheels

...So it isn't a surprise that Santa Barbara Car Free is both an organization and a state of mind, nor does it surprise that the city has so many cycling options...

California Tour and - March 29, 2013 - see post

2013 Santa Barbara "Cool Car Free Discounts" Announced

Santa Barbara “Green Vacation” Packages: Go Car Free & Save - Discounts on Amtrak plus 66 hotels, tours and attractions through December 2013.

Black Meetings and Tourism - March 8, 2013 - See article

Santa Barbara "Green Vacation" Packages: Go Car Free & Save

The Santa Barbara Car Free Project recently announced create-your-own “Green Vacation” packages for 2013 featuring 10-50% discounts from 66 partners...

ATW Radio Interview - February 14, 2013 - See post (scroll to 2013-02-14 segment)

Car Free Romance in your own town

Laura Kath, SB Car Free - - Car Free Romance in your own town, on the water, On two wheels, wine tasting tours, dining...

Santa Barbara Seasons blog - February 5, 2013 - See post

Create Your Own Car Free Vacation in Santa Barbara and Save!

Travel green and save in Santa Barbara! Through the Santa Barbara Car Free Project, you can get amazing discounts on your own customized car-free vacation! Discounts apply to Amtrak, hotels and multiple tours and attractions all over SB, including 10-50% discounts from 66 partners...

Eat Drink Explore Radio - February 3, 2013 - See interview clip

Santa Barbara Car Free

Get great deals when you explore the American Riviera without your car!

Noozhawk - January 24, 2013 - See Post

Santa Barbara Green Vacation Packages - Go Car Free and Save

The Santa Barbara Car Free project has announced create-your-own "green vacation" packages for 2013....

NBCLA - Worth the Drive - January 23, 2013 - See Post

How Santa Barbara Does Car Free - photo gallery

Weekend Walk - December 18, 2012 - See Post

California: You Go First! A Scenic Pedal Through Santa Barbara

Start along the shore in Santa Barbara...For more info on green travel in Santa Barbara, check out, which has maps and lists of partners who’ll reward your car-free holiday with discounts. 


Santa Barbara View - September 29, 2012 - See Article

Escape Carmageddon II - Head to Santa Barbara

..."Take the train to Santa Barbara and avoid ‘Carmageddon’ entirely at the end of September; or plan to take a car-free vacation in Santa Barbara in the future. Travel green and save some green,” says Mary Byrd, manager of this car free program led by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District."

Pacific Coast Business Times - September 28, 2012

Santa Barbara Marketed as Escape from Traffic Nightmare

..."We rely on our cars, but at the same time, it's wonderful to take a vacation from your car..."

NBC News web- September 23, 2012 - See Article

Los Angeles Preps for 'Carmageddon II

...The city of Santa Barbara has a proposed solution: Leave your car at home and come visit us. The Car Free Santa Barbara Project is offering Carmageddon II special discounts on train service to Santa Barbara as well as hotels, activities and restaurants, according to The Los Angeles Times...

Los Angeles Times Travel Blog - September 23, 2012 - See Article

Santa Barbara: Skip out of town to skip Carmageddon II

If you're worried about traffic problems during Carmegeddon II, hit the rails to get out of town. The Car Free Santa Barbara Project has a plan that will help you avoid the I-405 closure on Sept. 29-30... 

The Van Nuys News Press - September 18, 2012 - See Article

Things To Do Over Carmaggedon Weekend (Part II)

...Mary Byrd, manager of the Santa Barbara Car Free Project, has stated, “We invite Los Angeles area residents and visitors to use the freeway closure and traffic as a chance to ‘Think Outside the Car.’ Take the train to Santa Barbara and avoid ‘Carmageddon’ entirely at the end of September, or plan to take a car free vacation in Santa Barbara in the future. Travel green and save some green.” ...

LA Times Advertising Supplement - September 16, 2012 - See Article

A Timely Change of Scenery

...Led by the county's air pollution control district, the award-winning eco project allows visitors to save 20% on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin services, and up to half off at select hotels, restaurants and attractions when they agree not to travel by car...

NBCLA - September 14, 2012 - See Article

Riding Out Carmageddon II, Santa Barbara -Style

Santa Barbara Car Free has the specials for road-weary Angelenos...

Frontiers LA - September 12, 2012 - See Article

Spend Carmageddon II in Santa Barbara

Spend Carmageddon II in Santa Barbara It's quickly approaching, that weekend when you want to be anywhere in the world besides Los Angeles—Carmageddon II... Here's a great solution: Head to Santa Barbara. No car needed. From  

LA Parent - September 2012 - See Article

Smart and Fun - Turns a Campus Visit into a Family Vacation

Start in Santa Barbara...Save 50 percent on hotels and attractions with the Santa Barbara Car Free program ( - July 2012 - See Article

Train-ing Down the Coast: San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara

When you think Santa Barbara, you think beach. The good news is that, unlike in L.A., you don’t need gasoline to reach the best beaches here. If you want a bike for the day, Wheel Fun Rental (from $8.95/hour) is the most accessible to downtown, but really, you can get anywhere on foot...

805 Living - July-August 2012 - See Article

This Way to Summer

Amtrak offers frequest service up and down the coast, so when traveling to Santa Barbara, take advantage of the Santa Barbara Car Free promotion it's running this summer, and get a 20-percent discount on the trip... - June 14, 2012 - See Article

Santa Barbara, California - Coastal Travel Without a Car

One of my favorite cities to visit without a car is Santa Barbara. Accessible from almost anywhere in the state, this beach side, laid back town is a fun trip either with your girlfriends, family or sweetie pie...

These are my recommendations: Getting there: For less then the price of a car rental, you can take the leisurely 2-½-train ride up and back. There is no better way to really relax then to let someone else get you from here to there...

Smarter Travel - May 18, 2012 - See Article

Five Destinations Where You Can Leave Your Car Behind

The Santa Barbara tourism board has crafted a popular promotional campaign to encourage walking and bike riding in the area; view it on the Santa Barbara Car Free website...

National - May 3, 2012 - See Article

Five Signs California Is Ditching Its Car Habit

...On the Rail. The bullet train is still at least 10 years out, but Amtrak chugs its way up and down the coast and good old-fashioned rail travel seems to be experiencing a resurgence. While the average train trip takes much longer than driving would, the journey—replete with breathtaking scenery, plenty of relaxation time, and lounge and dining cars—is a treat in itself. Plus, destinations like Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Napa help sweeten the deal by offering discounts to car-free travelers.

Association News - May 2012 - starts at bottom of page 10 Article

Santa Barbara County - Well Rounded Offerings

...the Santa Barbara Car Free Program, which offers local discounts to individuals and groups who use alternatives means of transportation during any part of their visit.

La Weekly Blogs - April 2012 See Article

How to Enjoy L.A Arts and Culture Without a Car

...Where most travel books add a conciliatory line about taking transit in L.A., Landau's Car-Free Los Angeles and Southern California is a door-to-door guidebook to seeing L.A. without getting behind the wheel.

Take a car-free trip to Santa Barbara. Now here's a true vacation for an Angeleno: A vacation from driving! Landau suggests hopping the Amtrak Surfliner to Santa Barbara for a blissful non-car weekend. A program called Santa Barbara Car Free lists discounts and incentives at local hotels and restaurants if you present your Amtrak ticket. Plentiful bike rentals and free(!) city buses make getting around the city a breeze. Plus, as Landau points out, there's more museums per capita than anywhere else in California. "Santa Barbara has four accredited museums, the fourth largest number in the state, even though dozens of California cities are larger."

Style Magazine - April 2012  See Article

Amtrak to Santa Barbara - California Dreamin'

...Approaching Santa Barbara, a.k.a. the “American Riviera” – just in time for a sherbet-hued sunset – the dramatic Pacific and a handful of surfers came into view. La dolce vita, I thought to myself. Surprisingly, when the conductor announced we’d arrived, I was excited but not overly eager to leap off; it’d been a day unlike most, one where I actually calmed my mind and stopped to appreciate the small things, a day truly about the journey and not the destination.

From the station, I was at the heart of the city and within walking distance to Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara Harbor and State Street. There were heaps of hotels nearby, many which offered a discount with proof of car-free travel, as well as free transportation to and from the Amtrak station...

Santa Barbara Independent - April 6, 2012 See Article.

Hello Hotel Indigo

...In the property’s quest to reduce its carbon footprint, it has joined forces with the Santa Barbara Car Free Project to offer a $10 discount off the room rate for guests who stay at the hotel car-free. And with the train and new bus station next door, the trolley stop just outside the frontdoor, and bike and foot paths leading to Stearns Wharf or the downtown shopping area, it’s pretty easy to be car-free here...

What's New in California (Visit California newsletter) - Spring 2012

Santa Barbara Offers Eco-Friendly Car-Free Discounts for 2012 See page 9 of newsletter (PDF)

To promote eco-friendly tourism and green travel, Santa Barbara is offering new Cool Car-Free Discounts in 2012 that can save visitors up to 50% at over 50 local hotels, restaurants and activities...

The CEO Magazine (Australia) - February 2012

The American Riviera  See Article

Carefree and Car-Free, Santa Barbara flourishes as the paragon of the Southern California Lifestyle... Though southern California’s car culture has long been lionized as the quintessence of American existence, Santa Barbara is one place where a car is not an absolute necessity. With outstanding museums, performing arts centres, shopping, restaurants, and a general good mood, the city’s downtown area offers everything one needs for a satisfactory holiday within reasonable walking distance... - February 9, 2012

Santa Barbara Offers Incentives to Visit without your Vehicle See Article

Head to Santa Barbara for a day or weekend without your car and save on hotel accommodations, restaurants, and activities...

NBCLA blog - Janaury 13, 2012

Santa Barbara Car Free Discounts See Blog

BIKE NOW: Santa Barbara is serious about its commitment to car-free discounts and activities. While some places might try out one or two deals during the more tourist-friendly months, the American Riviera keeps up an annual program where visitors can find money-saving specials at some 50 local businesses, including about two dozen hotels. Serious, right? The people behind the initiative are also serious about making it as straightforward as possible. There isn't a lot of rigmarole or hoop-jumping to get your deals...

Lompoc Record - January 13, 2012

South on 101: SB's Paseos See Article

Alleyways (paseos) wind through Santa Barbara, offering scenic back routes, often sprinkled with fountains and statuary. Santa Barbara Car Free has a fun and easy self-guided Paseo Tour - download the map from Here are some annotated highlights... 

Car-Free Los Angelese & Southern California (book) - November 2011

Excerpt from Santa Barbara Chapter - also see description at Wilderness Press (Publisher)

Santa Barbara Car Free describes itself as a sustainable tourism guide. Through its website,, you can register and get a 20% discount on your Amtrak ticket to Santa Barbara. The website also offers a Carbon Footprint Certificate that you can present for discounts at many area hotels and motels. The overall mission is clear: 'to promote cleaner air and a healthier planet.

Greenxc - October 23, 2011

Discover Santa Barbara Car Free - See Article

We just learned some exciting news about Santa Barbara: they have a car-free program! It’s fun, it’s green, and you’ll be rewarded with discounts and special offers!... Founded in 1998 by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, Santa Barbara Car Free has more than 100 partners −working together to promote car free travel for cleaner air and a healthier planet. The project has been a model for other areas developing car free and sustainable tourism initiatives

Rebels by Bus - October 18,2011

Car Free Santa Barbara - See Article

Santa Barbara is a lovely Mediterranean style (think red tile roofs and stucco) style town 90 miles north of Los Angeles. “Santa Barbara car-free” (SBCF) ( encourages visitors to walk and/or use public transportation to explore the city.  Being a rebel by bus, that’s just what I did! - August, 2011

 A "Car Free" Week Along the Central Coast of California   See Article

Our Accommodations in Santa Barbara, 2 blocks from the Amtrak Station and 2 blocks from the beach [Car Free partner Beach House Inn]...perfect location for a Car Free vacation. The Downtown Electric Shuttle is directly across State Street from the Amtrak Depot.  I took this photo from the Shuttle Stop. The Downtown Electric Shuttle is a great non-polluting way to get up and down State Street for only 25 cents a ride!

Steel Wheels - publication of the Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada - July-August 2011

Santa Barbara Car Free: Rewarding Train Travel Works!

In 1998, we founded the Santa Barbara Car Free Project at the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District to reduce pollution from visitors' cars by encouraging car free travel to and around Santa Barbara... From the beginning, our partnership with Amtrak has been a cornerstone of the project. Brian Hart, Amtrak Director, Field Marketing-Southwest, estimates that the Santa Barbara Car Free Project has generated more than $750,000 in revenue for Amtrak over the years.


Fallout from West L.A.‘s Carmageddon Expected to Reach Santa Barbara - July 15, 2011 (updated from July 11)  See Article

Travelers trying to get to San Diego from Santa Barbara or Ventura, or vice versa, are being encouraged to use Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner as an alternative.

The Santa Barbara Car Free Project offers a 20 percent discount on Amtrak all year for passengers traveling to or from any station in Santa Barbara County.

LA Times Travel Online

'Carmageddon': Try the train to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo - July 13, 2011 - See Article

...But it could be a good time to skip the potential crush and indulge in an impromptu, car-free summer getaway. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo reward Amtrak travelers with 20% off their traiin tickets, plus discounts at restaurants, hotels and activities...

To test-book an escape from Carmageddon, I found a round-trip Amtrak ticket to Santa Barbara on Saturday morning and returning midday Monday for $46.40 -- saving $11.60 off the usual fare.

If you don't make it out of town this weekend, you can still get the discounts, which are good through the end of the year.


Free from the 405 - Five ways to escape Carmageddon- July 12, 2011 - See Article

Get Out: Make Tracks to Santa Barbara
Make your own escape from LA by heading north aboard the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner with a 20% train discount, courtesy Santa Barbara Car Free. Once there, take advantage of Hotel Oceana's own 405-inspired markdowns, including room discount, $4.05 poolside specials, and cocktail reception for drivers who've survived "Carmageddon." Yep, that means you.

Note from SB Car Free - see more info on this website:  train discount and Hotel Oceana special.


Car-Free Train Discount Bests Carmageddon - July 8, 2011 See Article

FREE DAYS: Businesses galore, both in Los Angeles and around Southern California, are stepping up to the Carmageddon plate. The drink discounts and shopping deals are plentiful, but people want to know about travel ideas and get-around discounts, seeing as how the July 16-17 closure is happening plunk in the middle of the vacation-iest time of year. Those are coming in as well, and one we're liking isn't even specifically related to that weekend. It's the Amtrak discount that Santa Barbara Car Free Amtrak offer.

Hotel Chatter

When Carmeggedon Hits Los Angeles, You Best Hunker Down in Your Hotel - July 6, 2011 - See Article

Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara is encouraging people to get the heck out of L.A. and avoid the massive traffic jams altogether. As part of its Escape the 405 package, you'll get 15 percent off of your stay, $4.05 cocktails and food all weekend long at the poolside bar and a complimentary cocktail reception on Friday night for all 405 escapees. The deal is good on stays from July 14 to 17.

And if you think road-tripping it to Santa Barbara is too much of a headache, ditch your car and hop on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and get 20 percent off of your train ticket with the Santa Barbara Car Free discount. It sounds like a heavenly alternative to Carmeggedon.


Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival Features Capoeira, Jugglers, Alpacas and SOL Food Kitchen - June 21, 2011, See article

The first stop on my three day, eco-friendly tour of Santa Barbara started on April 17 and led straight up State Street, by bike of course, to attend the inaugural Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park. The holiday has special significance in town, since Earth Day didn’t even exist before a massive oil spill hit Santa Barbara beaches in 1969. That catastrophe had a disastrous impact on the local environment, but it did foment change and drew the attention of Senator Gaylord Nelson, who spearheaded the bill that established Earth Day. 42 years later, Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council presented a day of programming that spanned three city blocks and even managed to instill the event with culinary energy.

My memorable three-hour visit started with a stop at the complimentary bike valet station, which parked hundreds of bikes throughout the course of the day...

Planet Green

Walrus Pee/Car -Free Father/Daughter Getaway - June 16, 2011 - See article

There’s the Amtrak to get there, and to get around you have your choice of Pedi-Cabs, easy access bike rentals (plus amazing bike maps), MTD Electric Shuttle making its rounds on a regular basis, and of course, walking which is not just easy but beautiful (and great exercise). Plus, if you declare yourself to be “car-free” many of the transportation companies, cabs, and even hotels give you deep discounts- so you’re saving money to boot!

My dad and I took the Amtrak from the overwhelmingly bustling downtown Los Angeles Union Station to the idyllically quaint downtown Santa Barbara station on State Street, just 2 blocks from the ocean. But our vacation didn’t start there. It started about halfway between LA and Santa Barbara as we were rolling along the track, the ocean to our left and mountains to our right- a perfect stretch of calm.

805 Living

Hot Tip - May 2011

Santa Barbara’s “Car Free” promotion is back through the end of the year, offering discounts at tourist attractions and 25 hotels in the city when you travel by Amtrak, city bus, or bicycle. (

Travel Video News

GREEN CALIFORNIA: Golden State’s Tourism Industry Putting its Best Carbon Footprint Forward  - May 26, 2011 - See article

The Santa Barbara Car Free Project presents car-free alternatives for travel to and from Santa Barbara, with its Web site offering maps and walking tour itineraries, Amtrak discounts, car-free resources and special car-free vacation packages.

Desert Sun

Enjoy the eco-sites in Santa Barbara - May 7, 2011 See article 

Visitors to Santa Barbara, known affectionately as the “American Riviera,” arrive year-round to enjoy its virtues of mission history, Pacific Ocean splendor and idyllic Mediterranean weather.

It is the Central Coast's utopia of nearby wineries, haute cuisine and celebrity homesteads, from Oprah to Jeff Bridges.

But, it is also getting recognition as an “ecotopia” — a destination that lets you put the car aside for your entire stay and celebrate the greenness that prevails from city bistros to the vines that surround.

Article in LA Parent magazine

Calm for Mom - Gentle Outings to Soothe the Soul - May 2011.

Car-Free Santa Barbara
Hop aboard Amtrak and revel in traveling green. Showing your Amtrak ticket also earns you discounts at participating hotels, restaurants and activities. Or, drive your car to SB, then walk, bike or ride a shuttle around town. The 25-cent MTD Waterfront/Downtown electric shuttle is a fun way to get around... Download maps and coupons at

Gardens to

Good Land Organics + RND Vodka = Perfect Spring Cocktails - May 4, 2011. See article

Two Santa Barbara institutions -- Good Land Organics and RND Vodka -- came together recently to create cocktails for a reception that was part of the city’s month-long Ecotopia celebration, and included many of the partners of Santa Barbara Car Free program, which offers discounts to those who make any part of their trip to the city sans car.


Fresh Picks and Catches:  Santa Barbara - May 3, 2011. See article.

Santa Barbara’s eco-friendliness goes beyond the market as well. The Santa Barbara Car Free program offers discounts on hotels, restaurants and activities such as Sustainable Vine Wine Tours of the nearby Santa Ynez Valley for those who promise to make at least part of their trip car-free -- which is easy as the city is pedestrian- and bike-friendly plus electric shuttles travel throughout the downtown and along the beach and harbor for just $.25/ride.

Gardens to

Touring the Santa Ynez Valley with Sustainable Vine Wine Tours - April 28,2011 See article.

As a Santa Barbara Car Free partner, Sustainable Vine offers a $10 discount to those who show they traveled at least part of their trip car-free (easy to do with bikes and electric shuttles available throughout downtown Santa Barbara and Amtrak stopping right in the middle of town). Check the Santa Barbara Care Free website for more details.

Announcement by Walk Friendly Communities

Gold MedalSanta Barbara Designated a Gold Level Community by Walk Friendly Communities - April 26, 2011 See announcement.

Santa Barbara is designated as a Gold-level community due to strong connectivity policies, a model Safe Routes to School program, and its unique pedestrian-oriented "paseos". Highlights of Santa Barbara's application include:

...SantaBarbaraCarFree is a project of the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District with support from the City of Santa Barbara, Amtrak California, and other partners.  It encourages car-free travel through discounts and by providing information on walkable destinations like the Farmers Markets, parks, trails, and bus and shuttle services.

Santa Barbara News-Press

S.B. tourism ready to go green - April 25, 2011

Experiencing the "greener"/sustainable tourism side of Santa Barbara means being as energy-efficient as possible, including taking a vacation from your car. "It's easy to be green and car free," declared Mary Byrd, manager of the Santa Barbara Car Free Project, a local organization that touts the eco-friendly benefits of traveling to the area without filling a gas tank. The Car Free program is one of several factors that make Santa Barbara a model for the growing green travel industry, said Kathy Janega-Dykes, CEO of the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau and Film Commission.


Four Car-Free Ways to Explore Santa Barbara, CA - April 22, 2011 See article.

For the average traveler, the city is a goldmine of car-free travel options: an Amtrak station in town; MTD electric shuttles, the largest fleet in North America; miles of bike lanes threading the city, shoreline and foothills; adventure guides leading kayaking, bike and hiking tours; wine tours via foot, bike and biodiesel van; and dozens of guided and self-guided walks around the city.

Dose of Vitamin P: Wine Cask Pork Belly - April 20, 2011 See article.

The Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau recently hosted me on a car-free media trip that spotlighted some of the area’s more compelling local, organic and sustainable eating and drinking options.

Health Conscious

Spring Break Fun in Sunny Santa Barbara - April 1, 2011 - See article.

There's another reason why Santa Barbara's perfect for active travelers: The city has made a major commitment to going car-free, with bike lanes all over town and a free shuttle between the beach and downtown that lets you bring bikes onboard. A website, Car-Free Santa Barbara, makes it easy to access all transportation options and figure out how to get wherever you need to go. So you can park your car at your hotel and not use it again the entire time you're here. Given how car-dependent most of California is, this really sets Santa Barbara apart.

Fun with the Family Southern California, 8th edition by Laura Kath & Pamela Price (Globe Pequot Press, March 2011)

Take a Vacation from Your Car!

It’s easy to do by accessing www​.santabarbaracarfree​.org, calling (805) 696-1100, or writing Santa Barbara Car Free Project, Box 60436, Santa Barbara 93160. Discover free walking tours, bike maps, bus routes, AMTRAK schedules, maps, and vacation packages/hotel discounts. Santa Barbara is extremely pedestrian- and family-friendly, especially the downtown State Street corridor that leads to the beach--with benches, outdoor dining, and plenty of greenery. When you get tired of walking, hop aboard the nifty25-cent electric shuttle buses (operated by the Metropolitan Transit District [MTD]; www​.sbmtd​.gov). Recipient of the EPA’s National Clean Air Award of Excellence in 2009, Santa Barbara Car Free Project is a multiple award-winning ecotourism partnership sponsored by the County Air Pollution Control District, committed to alternative transportation for cleaner air and a healthier planet.

Blog on

Santa Barbara Going Green with Santa Barbara Car Free - February 27, 2011 - See blog.

Looking to travel green from Los Angeles?  Santa Barbara Car Free Offer has some “cool car free discounts”.  Now through December 31, 2011, the Santa Barbara Car Free Project is encouraging visitors to travel green and save up to 50% at more than 50 hotels, activities and restaurants. 

With the price of gasoline rising, this is a fantastic way to enjoy a weekend getaway to Santa Barbara without costing an arm and a leg.  You can also stay at some of your favorite hotels or charming Bed and Breakfasts...

Day Trips from Los Angeles, 1st edition by Laura Kath and Pamela Price (Globe Pequot Press, December 2010)

Santa Barbara Car-Free: take a vacation from the gas pump!

 Santa Barbara is so easy to visit from Los Angeles without your car—in fact, we highly recommend the experience! Founded in 1998, the Santa Barbara Car Free Project is an award-winning ecotourism partnership sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, (most recently, recipient of the 2009 EPA National Clean Air Excellence Award) committed to alternative transportation for cleaner air and a healthier planet. Check out for comprehensive information about enjoying the beauty of this area and reducing your carbon footprint. You can download maps and get incredible deals on 40+ forty-plus hotels, activities, and attractions just for making a car- free pledge. Discover free walking tours, bike maps, bus routes, Amtrak train schedules, maps, and vacation packages/hotel discounts. Eleven Amtrak trains daily leave Los Angeles Union Station ( including the Pacific Surfliner and the Coast Starlight for Santa Barbara. Tracks run right along the ocean in parts, and Santa Barbara’s historic train station is at 209 State St., only 2two blocks from the beach. When you get tired of walking, hop aboard the nifty electric shuttle buses (operated by the Metropolitan Transit District [MTD]; ( or take a pedi-cab or hybrid taxi, or rent a bicycle or surrey cycle! To receive info by mail, call (805) 696-1100 or write, P.O.Box Box 60436, Santa Barbara, CA 93160. Viva Car Free-dom!

California Travel & Tourism Commission Sustainable Tourism Marketing Handbook

Santa Barbara Car Free (October 2010) See Handbook.

Santa Barbara Car Free is an example of an organization that is increasing awareness of sustainable transportation options. Santa Barbara Car Free offers several transportation alternatives for visitors to the Santa Barbara area, along with maps and resources for trip planning. Santa Barbara Car Free is effectively using strategic partnerships to increase awareness of their organization and the success of their program. For example, a partnership with Amtrak offers discounts for tourists to get to the destination. Similarly, Santa Barbara Car Free partners with various tourism businesses in Santa Barbara to offer additional discounts for their customers. These discount programs are incentives and business for the partnership organizations.

NBC Los Angeles Blog

Santa Barbara Car Free Discounts - February 7, 2011 - See blog

WORTH THE CYCLE: If you're pedaling through Santa Barbara, or arriving by Amtrak, or scooting around via your MTD bus pass, best eye the rather lengthy list of deals and discounts that Santa Barbara Car Free has organized...

Sightline Daily

A Vacation from My Car (and Kid) - January 19, 2011 - See article

Santa Barbara Car Free, which was established in 1998 and has won numerous awards, has convinced dozens of hotels, restaurants and tour operators to offer serious discounts to car-free travelers who arrive via Amtrak, bus or bicycle...

Santa Barbara News Press

Take a Bow (July 9, 2010)

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District honored its partners in the Santa Barbara Car Free project June 17 at its monthly board meeting... Karen Kukurin, deputy director and community liaison with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office, read a letter from the governor lauding project participants for their 'exemplary accomplishments.' "Your outstanding efforts help cement California as a world leader in going green," it read. The District's board also thanked Santa Barbara Car Free partners with a resolution.

See photo of partners at the reception that appeared with the article on our photo gallery page.

Window Seat Travel Blog: Travelocity's Alison Presley blogs on Car Free here.

Santa Barbara Car Free: One California City Gets Serious about Carbon (June 25, 2010)

Often in the U.S. when we think about "car-free destinations," we think of big cities like New York City, Boston, and San Francisco. But what should you do if you want to go car-free and get away from the hubbub of urban life? I now have an answer for you: visit Santa Barbara.

See full blog here.

Los Angeles Times Travel Blog

Santa Barbara Car Free offers 20% off Amtrak travel, and lots more (January 12, 2010)

Santa Barbara Car Free, an eco-tourism project by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, has been around for some time. But with new elements added every year, its green appeal —both to your wallet and the environment —is as strong as ever.

The 2010 savings program, with the slogan “Take the car out of your carbon footprint,” encourages visitors to walk, bike, use the city’s electric shuttle and hop aboard the train. And, as in previous years, they can take advantage of 20% off on Amtrak rail travel to and from Santa Barbara County.

See article on LA Times website.

What's New with Santa Barbara Car Free (November 2009)

"As it turns out, the Santa Barbara Car Free program is bigger, and greener than it was five years ago.  And, other California cities have used the Santa Barbara Car Free model to start their own programs. Many of the original Santa Barbara businesses are still members, plus many new ones have joined.  There is now a 20% discount on Amtrak Surfliner tickets to Santa Barbara County cities, and many discounts in town for just showing your train ticket."

See full story on the TrainWeb site.

California Travel & Tourism Commission Sustainable Tourism Handbook

Making it Happen - Cities and counties embracing the big picture of sustainability (October 2009) See Handbook.

The Santa Barbara Car Free Project is a cooperative partnership led by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. Travelers arriving to Santa Barbara car-free can save up to 50% at 22 hotels and 20 activities and restaurants.

Group Travel Planet Magazine

Two-Wheeling it (July 2009)

"Santa Barbara's Car Free initiative encourages visitors to travel in a number of different ways, one of which is biking. Bike maps, delivery and pickup of bikes to your hotel, rental company information, and clubs and advocacy group information are all available at"

Westways - Southern California AAA Magazine

No Parking
−and cool−in Santa Barbara (June 2009)

"Health-conscious joggers and cyclists traverse town on the city's endless bike paths, but the Santa Barbara Car Free project, a government-run clean-air campaign, makes it simple to navigate the area without ever strapping on a seat belt−or a knee brace. The project partners with dozens of area businesses, including Amtrak. Our friends Don and Randi were thrilled to learn that by registering on the project's website, they got 20 percent off their train tickets. Then, by flashing tickets around town, they got more discounts at hotels and restaurants."

2nd Green

American Cities Hope to Entice Pedestrians with Carless Districts (June 2009)

"...In addition, smaller cities are promoting their pedestrian friendly qualities. Santa Barbara, California (roughly two hours north of Los Angeles) presents itself as a carless get-away destination. Several businesses have begun offering reduced rates on hotel stays for those travelers that present their train ticket at check-in. The website contains a wealth of car travel alternatives to and from as well as within the city. “Santa Barbara Car Free is a cooperative partnership initiated and led by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District since 1998 for cleaner air and a healthier planet. We have more than 100 business and community partners - all encouraging car free transportation to, and around, Santa Barbara.” With a temperate climate, biking is an excellent year round option in Santa Barbara. For specific information on biking in the city, refer to the biking section of Santa Barbara’s Car Free site.

These two examples show that pedestrians, bike riders, and non-vehicular traffic can coexist and even transform a city’s landscape. Reduced ground level ozone and airborne particulate matter from decreased motorized traffic enhances community health. In addition, carless districts encourage increased exercise, which also positively impacts health. From the largest American city to one with a population hovering around 100,000 people, all cities would do well to increase carless options like New York and Santa Barbara."

Travel +

Hot Deals | Weekly travel bargains Santa Barbara: Car-free deals at area hotels and businesses (June, 2009, through present)

"Why Go: Santa Barbara wants to promote itself as a car-free destination so, for the rest of the year, area hotels are offering discounts to guests who show an Amtrak ticket at check-in. The deals range from upgrades to discounts, to extras like a bottle of sparkling wine or breakfast or bikes to explore the city. Participating hotels range from small B&Bs off the beach, to romantic inns with fireplaces, to chain hotels. Other local businesses are jumping onboard with discounted kayaking, whale-watching trips, restaurant meals, museum entrance fees, and more...For more information or to book, please visit Santa Barbara Car Free. To register for Amtrak discounts, please visit Santa Barbara." online

Escapes Under $500: Budget-friendly beach getaways  (May, 2009)

Santa Barbara, California

"Who needs a car at the beach? Especially in Santa Barbara, where you can get discounts and perks for leaving your wheels behind and walking, biking, or even taking the train instead of driving. In an attempt to be more eco-friendly, the city has initiated a Car Free promotion that includes a host of savings on hotels and activities when you take the train, a 20% discount on Amtrak tickets, and special packages even if you do arrive by car."

New York Times

The No-Car City (Letter in the New York Times, November 30, 2008)

"Santa Barbara is the rare small American city that is easy and pleasant to visit without a car. In fact, Santa Barbara is the even rarer city that encourages and rewards visitors without a car..."

Los Angeles Times

Travel Blog Roundup of Deals (LA Times Travel Blog, December 16, 2008)

"Under the Santa Barbara Car Free Project, visitors who arrive by Amtrak can tap discounts up to 50% at dozens of hotels, restaurant and activities in the coastal county and also get 20% off their Pacific Surfliner or San Joaquins fares. Yes, I know gas prices have dropped to 2004 levels. But I find Amtrak a hassle-free way to get to Santa Barbara. It drops you right next to hopping State Street."

Eco-Travel Options are Abundant LA Times, June 30, 2008

"Santa Barbara's air pollution district has a little challenge for you: Leave the car at home. The district, in cooperation with the city's tourism office, is trying to make it easier to travel green. Hop on an Amtrak train and you could qualify for cheap hotel rates. And, once you're in town, there are ferries, a 25-cent electric shuttle and bike rentals..."

California Weekend

Cary Awards: Best, Most Unique Places We Visited in 08 (January 2009, California Weekend web feature, and column)

"Our Most Unique Travel Adventure for 2008 was a trip to Santa Barbara without our car. It´s tough to pry the car keys from us Southern Californians but, in the interest of the environment, we gave it a try. It turns out that Santa Barbara´s Car-Free program makes it easy and offers lots of incentives that make it well worth your while to try visiting Santa Barbara by train or air. Our trip on Amtrak from San Diego went off without a hitch, and we were amazed at how much we could do without our car. For more information on car-free Santa Barbara, go to or phone (805) 696-1100."

"American Riviera" Ideal for Car-Free Visit (June 2008, California Weekend web feature, and column)

"Got to admit it — it's tough for this Californian to give up his car for the weekend, but that's exactly what we did on a recent train getaway to Santa Barbara that proved we could do our small part to help reduce traffic and vehicle emissions and still have a great time..."

Peter Greenburg Travel

Care-Free and Car-Free Destinations (June 2008)

"Santa Barbara is taking this car-less concept very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that it has an entire promotional campaign around it. What smells like a gimmick turned out to be a useful resource that makes traveling sans car seem not only accessible, but preferable. For example, if you take the train to Santa Barbara, California, you qualify for the “car-free” discount at more than 20 hotels, some restaurants, and many activities.."

Also: Seattle Times (June 2008), Australia's "G" Magazine (May 2008), The London Paper (April 2008), Chicago Scene Magazine (March 2008),  United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine (December 2007)


Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District received a national Clean Air Excellence Award for the Santa Barbara Car Free Project from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. See this page.

The Santa Barbara Car Free project received a 2004 Environmental Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9, and received a 2004 Marketing Excellence Award for "Best Niche Marketing: Eco-Tourism" from the California Travel and Tourism Commission. Read more background on the project here.  

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, lead agency for Santa Barbara Car Free, honored and thanked the project's partners for their outstanding volunteer service and contributions to the project.

Partners present for the APCD ceremony included (from left): Front row: Millie Matz--Santa Barbara Hotel Group; Olivia Rodriguez, David Damiano and Sherrie Fisher--Santa Barbara MTD: Tracy Farhad--Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission; Jayne Brechwald--American Lung Association of Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, Antara Blasius--Community Environmental Council/Earth Day. Second row: Brian Hart--Amtrak; Nadine Turner--Hotel Santa Barbara; Megan Miley (project website)--Megan Miley Graphic Design; Ralph Fertig--Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition; Lynda Lang--Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce; Tim Bridwell--Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort; Laura Kath (project promotions coordinator)--Mariah Marketing; Mary Byrd (project manager)--APCD. Top row: Nancy Johnson--Botanic Garden; Randy Reetz--Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center; Lee Moldaver; Bobbie Bratz (community programs supervisor)--APCD; Lin Graf--Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce.