10 Best Places to Travel on a Budget: California

If you're looking for the 10 best places to travel on a budget in California, then you've come to the right place! All of these places cost little more than the price of the gas to get you there. California has it all, from beaches to deserts, from cities to mountains. Get a taste of each with this list.


  1. Lake Tahoe, California. Sure, everyone knows that you can drop a bundle of cash on a ski trip to the mountains. What they don't know, however, is that you don't have to. Lake Tahoe is a beautiful budget travel destination year round, with spectacular views of the mountains in summer and winter. Rent a cabin with a bunch of friends for an extra sweet deal.
  2. San Francisco, California. San Francisco makes a surprisingly good place to visit on a budget. Because of fierce competition among restaurants, you can find food more delicious than just about anywhere else in the U.S. at remarkably good prices (less than $10 a person). Stick to hole-in-the-wall places, and don't forget the culinary adventure that is Chinatown. Hop on to one of the myriad types of public transportation for just a couple of bucks to speed your journey. Traveler's tip: once you buy a bus ticket, it's good for the next few hours, no matter how many times you get on and off.
  3. Half Moon Bay, California. Just down the road from San Francisco is a stunning area known as Half Moon Bay. This whole stretch of highway has spectacular views, and plenty of beaches perfect for sunbathing. The water can get very cold year-round, so keep this in mind if you're interested in going for a swim. Parking costs can be steep in some areas, but it's worth it for a day spent in this gorgeous place.
  4. Redwood National Park, California. Have you ever wanted to see a tree that's big enough for your car to drive through? Then you've come to the right place. Admission to this park is free. No visit to California would be complete without seeing these amazing works of nature.
  5. Stanford University, California. Stanford is one of the premier educational institutions in the country. It also has an amazing open campus layout with picturesque landscaping and architecture. Stroll down the tiled corridors of the Quad, or toss a football around in the Oval. Stanford hosts events open to the public, and you can always crash one of the many weddings that are held here each year.
  6. Palm Desert, California. Sister city to the more glamorous Palm Springs, Palm Desert is a gem right in the middle of nowhere. There's a golf course, but if you're on a budget, you won't want to go there. Instead, check out the minimalist scenery by hiking through the desert hills or going on a mountain biking tour.
  7. Grass Valley, California. It might come as a surprise how rural parts of California can be, but it is, after all, a huge state. Grass Valley is nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, and offers interesting local history along with great scenery. It's a good place to go to get away from it all for a day.
  8. San Diego, California. No list of destinations in California would be complete without San Diego. This city offers sand beaches and a boardwalk, and the water is far warmer than at locations farther north.
  9. Hollywood, California. Think about it: you don't even have to pay the exorbitant price for a movie ticket to see the stars in California! You can catch a glimpse of your favorites just by walking down the street. What better place to visit on a budget?
  10. Napa Valley, California. If you're on a budget, you probably don't want to buy any wine, but you can still have a great time driving through Napa Valley. The beauty and serenity of the green, rolling hills is a marked contrast to the bustle of cities like San Francisco just to the south. Pack a lunch and enjoy a relaxing drive through some of the most attractive countryside this side of Italy.






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