Budget travel

Cheap places to visit in California

Unveiling California's best-kept secrets!

May 19, 2023
 min read
Last updated:
Jan 15
A busy walking and biking path on a beach in California.

The gist: California isn’t just a playground for the rich if you travel off the beaten path and explore some lesser-known attractions.

California, the Golden State, is known for its glitz and glamor, but it's also home to some hidden gems that won't break the bank. If you're seeking adventure, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable experiences without emptying your wallet, you're in for a treat! We'll let you in on some secrets and unveil California's most affordable and fantastic destinations.

Joshua Tree National Park: Where Nature's Magic Meets Your Budget

Let's start our journey in the mystical desert oasis of Joshua Tree National Park. This otherworldly destination boasts towering Joshua trees, whimsical rock formations, and mesmerizing sunsets. The best part? Entry fees are wallet-friendly, and camping is a budget traveler's dream. Spend your days hiking, rock climbing, or stargazing under the vast, starry sky—truly a remarkable experience that won't cost you a fortune!

Surf, Sun, and Savings in Santa Cruz

Embrace the casual and laid-back vibe of Santa Cruz, a beach town that offers surf, sun, and savings. Catch a wave, soak up the sun on the sandy shores, or take a stroll on the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk—all without breaking the bank. Explore the vibrant downtown area, indulge in local cuisine, and breathe in the fresh ocean air of California’s coast. 

Mendocino: Coastal Magic on a Shoestring Budget

Escape to the captivating coastal town of Mendocino, where breathtaking views and tranquil beauty abound. This hidden gem offers stunning cliffs, picturesque lighthouses, and charming Victorian architecture. Take a leisurely hike along the coastline, discover hidden beaches, or explore the quaint village with its art galleries and boutiques. Mendocino's affordable accommodations, including cozy bed and breakfasts, will make you feel right at home without straining your wallet.

Stand Tall with Budget-Friendly Delight in Redwood National and State Parks

Get ready to stand in awe of nature's giants—the majestic redwood trees. Wander through these ancient forests, basking in the serenity and grandeur that surrounds you. With free admission to the parks, you can immerse yourself in nature's embrace, hike along scenic trails, and witness the awe-inspiring sight of these towering giants. It's a genuinely humbling adventure that won't cost you a fortune.

San Diego: Sunshine, Smiles, and Sensible Savings

San Diego, the city of sunshine, offers a perfect blend of excitement and affordability. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Balboa Park, where you can explore museums and gardens, and even catch a free concert or two. The city's stunning beaches, like La Jolla and Coronado, beckon you to relax and unwind. Enjoy cheap eats at local taco stands, soak up the welcoming atmosphere, and let San Diego's positive and empowering vibes captivate your heart.

California may have a reputation for being glamorous and expensive, but beneath its surface lies a treasure trove of affordable travel destinations waiting to be discovered. From the mystical deserts of Joshua Tree to the coastal magic of Mendocino and the awe-inspiring redwoods, this diverse state offers experiences that are both genuine and empowering. So, grab your sense of adventure, pack your curiosity, and embark on a journey where you'll make memories that will last a lifetime—all while keeping your wallet happy. California's affordable wonders are waiting for you!

*Prices fluctuate based on season and day of the week.

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