There is a price to pay for California’s envious bounty: miles of salty coastline, bright, sun-filled days, dynamic cities, an infinite amount of tranquil and heart-pumping outdoor pursuits...we could go on forever.
But that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price to enjoy it all. Although most things in the Golden State are more expensive than other US destinations, budget trips to California are possible if you know where and how to look for savings. Consider these nine tips and things to consider to help you travel to California without breaking the bank.
Generally, the price of accommodation veers steeply upwards in major cities, along the coast, and near major attractions – find savings by booking a hotel in surrounding areas. For example, travelers set on exploring San Francisco may want to consider accommodations in San Jose or Oakland, which come with their own charms, such as multicultural food scenes.
Dreaming of a sunny, coastal getaway to Malibu or Santa Barbara? Smaller beach towns like Cambria, a few hours’ drive north of Santa Barbara, or Ventura, an hour north of Malibu, may prove more affordable.
Check out a city’s tourism office or chamber of commerce website for recommended itineraries you can complete at your leisure. In Palm Springs, begin at the Palm Springs Visitors Center, a midcentury modern landmark itself, and follow their recommendations to glimpse some of its most well-known architectural residences, buildings, and hotels.
Up north, Visit Redwoods compiled a number of self-guided adventures, from a mural tour of Eureka to a guide to Humboldt County’s historic lighthouses. Further south, Santa Barbara offers its Red Tile Walking Tour – a compilation of 17 stops showcasing its Spanish-style adobes dating between the 1700-1800s.
Save on activities like museums and scope out cultural attractions that offer free or reduced admission. In Los Angeles, the California African American Museum, The Getty Center, and the Broad are just some that offer free admission year-round. Orange County Museum of Art, the first floor of Mingei International Museum, and the Women’s Museum of California in San Diego, also offer free admission year-round.
Museums across the state also host designated free museum days, and some may require proof of residency to participate. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Contemporary Jewish Museum, and Oakland Museum of California are just some San Francisco area institutions that participate in free museum days.
Seek out city passes in most major cities to enjoy discounts to theme parks, museums, and other activities. Many city passes offer an all-inclusive pass to use over 3, 5 or 7 days, or an option to purchase a set number of activities at a
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On the PBS show America Outdoors with Baratunde Thurston, the second season of which is airing now, each episode showcases a gorgeous spot in the United States, and the ways in which a half dozen or so local residents enjoy the place. In an upcoming Oregon episode, Emmy-nominated host, producer, comedian, and writer Baratunde Thurston checks out a roller derby in Portland, cowboys on a sustainable ranch, forest bathers, an underwater kelp forest, a community garden recultivating native foods, and more. As spectacular as the settings are, it’s the people he’s met and their dedication to the planet that he finds endlessly remarkable.
California may not be known for its fall foliage compared to states like Vermont or North Carolina, but that doesn't mean there aren't places you can go to see the changing colors of red, orange, and yellow.
California legislators have passed two bills that could impact how the state’s 6,000 hotels and thousands of short-term rentals inform consumers about so-called junk fees, such as resort fees and housekeeping fees.
Bold, big and beautiful, Arizona has plenty to brag about. Framed by New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and California, and with Mexico at its southern reaches – the state gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year and has four distinct seasons, so you can bask in summer, hike and bike in spring and fall and ski in winter.
As a newbie California resident keen on exploring as much of my adopted home as possible, I was struck by how geographically diverse the Golden State is, the impracticalities of making a "quick trip" to one part of the state from the other end of it, and its surprisingly variable weather.
It's become an iconic image of travel in the United States – a red convertible with the top down, cruising such classic California thoroughfares as the Pacific Coast Highway or across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Much like pilots, flight attendants find themselves in a career that can take them across multiple time zones each week—sometimes multiple times a day. Couple that with long hours and irregular sleep patterns, and you’ll wonder: How do these travel professionals appear to handle jet lag, while passengers feel fatigue and insomnia almost instantly?
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