Cheap Vacations in California

California is the land of sunshine and stars - movie stars, that is. California offers diversity for any vacation: culture, natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and water sports. The cost of living in California may be higher than most states in the country, but it is still possible to enjoy cheap vacations in California. With research, planning, and ideas, you're on your way to California cheap vacations.

california beach vacation

Water Sports and The Beach

The best thing about water sports is the low expense factor - if you have the equipment (or can borrow or rent it), the rest of the fun - the ocean itself - is free! Water sports can be enjoyed anywhere in California, but the southern part of the state is most ideal (in northern California, you'll need a wet suit). In the summer months, the ocean water in southern California warms up to 70 degrees or higher!Water sports can be as simple as swimming or body surfing (the Pacific Ocean has great waves) or can be more involved; for instance, boogie boarding, surfing, ocean kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, or boating. Indeed, water sports are your key to cheap vacations in California!

However, if you're not into water sports, take the opportunity to soak up the sunshine and play on the beach, even if you don't end up spending a lot of time in the water. Beaches to try include Swami's Beach, Moonlight Beach (both in Encinitas, located north of San Diego), La Jolla Cove (San Diego), Laguna Beach, or Newport Beach (both in Orange County).

Hollywood Tours

If you are into fame and glamour, Hollywood (Los Angeles area) is a fun place to visit. Sign up for an inexpensive Hollywood tour of movie sets and many of the popular television shows (including the Friends set, which remains intact even though the show stopped filming years ago). Bring your camera - there are some great photo-opps available! While you're in the area, go window shopping on famous Rodeo Drive where all the best designers have showrooms. People watching is also prime entertainment in this area - among the other tourists, you may catch glimpses of the rich and famous sporting Ferrari's and Rolls.

california mountain vacation

The Mountains

While California is not the top state for winter sports, there are some really nice spots to enjoy the mountains. Mammoth Mountain, for instance, is a quaint ski town. Take the gondola up to the top of the mountain (free) and enjoy a beautiful view from the peak. If you are a skier or snowboarder, Mammoth is the best place in California, and the lift tickets are reasonable (less than $100 for the day and less than $60 for half day). You'll also find hiking and mountain biking in the summer. Be advised - in the winter the mountain closes at four in the afternoon.


Admittedly, amusement parks don't make for the cheapest vacation, but if you enjoy rides and festivities, Disneyland in Anaheim (Orange County) is the place to go! People come from all over the world to visit both Disney and California Adventures (Disney’s adjacent park). A two-day park-hopper pass is reasonably priced considering all the fun and memories you'll have. Save money by packing a lunch and beverages for the day rather than buying food inside the park.

A final tip to make your California vacation more affordable - book a vacation rental instead of a hotel room, and cook in a few nights instead of splurging on restaurants the whole trip. You'll also get more of a flavor for the area by living like a local versus a tourist.

All in all, cheap vacations in California are realistic given some insight and planning.

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