California Road Trip on A Budget: Five Affordable Golden State Destinations

The state of California is a melting pot of interesting characters, largely characterized by its massive land area that takes a good portion of the US’ West Coast. That’s why a California Road Trip is a popular place for road trip enthusiasts, given its eye-watering natural wonders and cultural havens in major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

But as many would know, going on a California road trip often doesn’t come cheap, and that it may result to unsavory consequences when planned carelessly. With that, it’s important that for road trip planners to study the best of what the Golden State offers, particularly for those whose budgets are severely constrained.

For that, here’s a list of five destinations within California road trippers can feast their moments on without having to break the bank. These places show that even on a limited budget, California remains a great place to have a road trip in. Indeed, not everything within the Golden State is priced in gold – you just need to pick the best places to spend what limited budget you have.

1. Guerneville

If you and your mates are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of California’s urban corridors, then you can always consider going on a getaway in one of the state’s most laid-back reserves. For that, consider visiting Guerneville – a place where the small-town vibe remains blessed with its distinct out-and-out groove.

Guerneville is bordered by a bevy of natural sights – the Russian River and a sight of untouched hills. It’s basically a town that thrives in California’s wine industry, so it’s not unusual to encounter accommodations that comes with wine-tasting packages for great nightly rates. The entire place is great for biking, and with a decent set of diners, this town doesn’t disappoint any penny-pincher.

2. San Luis Obispo

The town of San Luis Obispo thrives in its diversity – not so much akin to crowded Los Angeles, but more on the natural side. A coastal refuge for road trippers on the cheap, this town combines breathtaking scenes of the ocean with the refreshing sights of the mountains. It’s not without great amenities as well, and they all pretty much bode well for budget-conscious folks.

With places that serve flowing amounts of beer and wine, San Luis Obispo is truly a haven for road trippers on a tight budget who nonetheless wishes to gorge in on great-tasting booze. But if a wholesome lifestyle is in order, the Valencia Peak is available for those who wish to hike and see the town’s reputed mountain-ocean coastline.

3. Santa Cruz

If you think Northern California doesn’t have the same balmy refuges as those present in Southern California, then think again. Santa Cruz – a seaside haven that’s popular for those staying north of the Golden State, comes with a flurry of sceneries that appeal to several road trippers looking for the best bang for their buck.

Anyone who knows Santa Cruz well would readily associate it with surfing, so you better pack your surfboard with you in case you want to visit. But if you’re not that much of a thrill-seeker, it’s enough that you go to the beach and enjoy a drink or two in many of the town’s seaside bars. Plus, there are camping grounds near the beach, in case staying in a hotel is too pricey for you.

4. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is famous for its stunning coastline that led to its name as the “American Riviera,” and it’s not too far from Los Angeles by car. That’s why the town is known as a great destination for urban folks of Southern California looking for a quick escape – its proximity to Los Padres National Forest says much about its popularity.

Those wanting to make the most out of Santa Barbara’s natural charm without spending too much must know more about its splendid vantage points for its glittering coastline. Treks leading to Los Padres’ eye-watering features also make for a great Southern California road trip. The Santa Barbara Winery can also provide you with great wine tasting sessions at affordable rates.

5. La Jolla

Another spectacularly sunny offering from California’s southern side, La Jolla offers an exhilarating experience for those looking to experience the Golden State’s sunny side. Situated in the bustling city of San Diego, this seaside enclave is known for its beach culture and almost-eternal summers – and one that’s friendly for penny-pinchers too.

To make the most out of La Jolla, savor in the beauty of its sparkling coastline by taking an inexpensive afternoon drink in many of its Mexican cantinas. Boutique hotels also populate parts of the enclave, so you can have a great staycation without hurting much of your budget. Plus, you can take a kayak to one of the nearby sea caves, which makes for a fascinating experience.