- California has affordable vacation spots that offer a variety of memorable experiences without breaking the bank.
- Joshua Tree National Park, Idyllwild, and Solvang are some of the budget-friendly destinations that visitors can enjoy.
- These towns offer affordable accommodations, outdoor activities, and beautiful scenery, making them perfect for budget-conscious travelers.
California is a great state to vacation in. After all, tourists want to experience the best of its natural wonders, architectural marvels like the Golden Gate Bridge, and world-renowned attractions. Even so, some spots can be expensive in terms of accommodation, food, attractions, activities, and performances. But does that limit adventurers from flocking to the Golden State? No, because California has some amazing places that don’t break the bank. Most are fun-packed towns with affordable places to stay or nature spots where tourists can enjoy California’s natural wonders. Ready to experience the best of California without breaking the bank? Check out these places that suit any budget.
UPDATE: 2023/10/08 23:58 EST BY REENA JAIN
More Affordable Vacation Spots In California
For those looking for affordable California vacation ideas, there are a number of beautiful towns, cities, and fun locations that won’t break the bank. We have expanded this list with four more California vacation spots that offer a variety of memorable experiences for tourists without burning a hole in their pockets. Plus, all the accommodations mentioned in the article were selected based on various factors, including their Kayak ratings (7.5 or above), locations, amenities on the offer, and, of course, nightly price.
Joshua Tree National Park
Cost of vacation: $2,972 per person per week
A tent near a large rock in Joshua Tree National Park
One of the most popular vacation spots in California, Joshua Tree National Park is a Mecca for adventure seekers and outdoor lovers. A vacation in Joshua Tree National Park is reasonable ($2,972 per person per week), with prices for hotels, food, and sightseeing normally within normal price ranges. With stunning surroundings, scenic trails, and a range of exciting activities, like mountain biking, rock climbing, and horseback riding, there is so much to feel the adrenaline rush. Also, those who want to have a true wilderness experience can stay the night in a camp (another affordable choice to budget the trip), as both campgrounds and backcountry camping options are available. Additionally, there are a few affordable resorts close by for individuals who want to take part in park adventures but unwind in a cozy residence packed with amenities.
Cost of vacation: $2,235 per person per week
Idyllwild Nature Center Sign, California
For anyone looking for an escape from the congested cities or their hectic pace, Idyllwild is just the right choice. Nestled in the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, this charming small town is a perfect place to unwind without breaking the bank, as the average cost of a 7-day trip here is about $2,235 per person. With its local restaurants and stores along the streets (serving food at reasonable prices), Idyllwild has a rustic ambiance that transports travelers back in time. It’s also worth checking out the rock climbing at Suicide Rock and Tahquitz Peak. Idyllwild has both high country for extended overnight walks and short day hikes for convenient weekend getaways.
Cost of vacation: $2169 per person per week
Main Street and Windmill in downtown Solvang, California
Solvang City is in Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County and is also known as the Danish Capital of America due to its Danish-inspired architecture. Photography enthusiasts walk around the town as they admire and take pictures of picturesque buildings and wooden windmills. If vacationing with kids, visiting Hans Christian Anderson Park is a must for its fun and pocket-friendly activities for children of all ages. Youngsters get creative with a music-making machine and let go of the extra energy by climbing a wall or playing in the playground. All the fun and excitement is quite reasonable in Solvang, and visitors can have a one-week vacation at an affordable cost of approximately $2169 per person.
Cost of vacation: $2,099 per person per week
Magnificent view of Lake Tahoe, California, with its blue turquioise waters
Lake Tahoe astounds even the most experienced travelers with its sublime beauty and year-round activities and is one of the most affordable destinations in California, with an average one-week vacation cost of around $2099 per person. The dazzling cobalt-blue waters are perfect for water sports in summer, while the surrounding rugged shoreline and pristine pine forests offer scenic hiking trails.
While there are lavish resorts in Lake Tahoe, visitors looking for fun yet cheap activities in California do so by taking reasonable, thrilling adventures. They can hike the easy two-mile loop Cascade Falls Trail while admiring the breathtaking Cascades Falls or the shimmering lake from the Bayview Campground. On the other hand, skilled hikers challenge themselves with the 4.5-mile-long Rubicon Trail that follows the Emerald Bay shoreline to a high incline with panoramic mountain vistas.
Cost of vacation: $2,093 per person per week
Beautiful vibrant panoramic view of June Lake, California
In the Eastern Sierras, a small hamlet called June Lake offers a variety of interesting activities, beautiful scenery, and a laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can explore the neighboring Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, June Lake Brewing, and Devil’s Postpile National Monument. As an alternative, June Mountain, Gull Lake, and the Parker Lake Trail all offer hiking and nature walks. The town is also one of the best places in Northern California to see fall foliage! For the ultimate fun in the mountains, campgrounds have affordable rates, while backcountry camping is often free in the region. All in all, a one-week vacation in June Lake is reasonably priced, with an average expense of $2,093 per person.
Cost of vacation: $2,080 per person per week
View of downtown Ventura, California
Ventura has a laid-back beach town vibe and lots of reasonable activities that keep vacationers occupied at an affordable cost of $2080 per person per week. Nature enthusiasts visit the Channel Islands National Park, consisting of five ecologically rich and unique islands. Parkgoers experience California’s stunning beauty beneath the sea in the marine sanctuary, while seafarers enjoy boating between the islands and diving.
Adventurers spend their afternoons soaking in breathtaking coastline views and verdant agricultural vistas at the Ventura Botanical Gardens. But the South African Fynbos Garden has a gorgeous view of the Channel Islands and boasts ericas, proteas, and pelargoniums.
Cost of vacation: $2,075 per person per week
Mendocino, a beautiful and affordable vacation spot in Northern California
Mendocino is an artsy coastal town in Northern California, inviting travelers to loosen up and soak in the beautiful surroundings. This little town is stroll-worthy and over-delivers in the photo ops sector, whether travelers are in the streets, coastline, or the redwood forests.
Outdoor lovers head south of Mendocino to explore Russian Gulch State Park. The park offers scenic hiking opportunities, but the moderately strenuous Fern Canyon and Falls Loop Trail is a favorite for its waterfall and variety of habitat views. Visitors can have unlimited amazing experiences in the town at an affordable price and a one-week vacation at an average cost of $2,075 per person.
Cost of vacation: $2,045 per person per week
A gazebo sitting on a cliff on Pismo Beach shoreline, California
Winter isn’t the only time to visit the adventure-packed Pismo Beach, an enchanting hometown that inspires a slower pace of life with budget-friendly activities. Tourists gather at the iconic Pismo Beach Pier to admire sunsets and take photographs of the long stretch of sand with the background of the limitless ocean. Travelers looking for fun and family-friendly activities visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove to see thousands of vibrant orange and black butterflies clinging to branches with telescopes. Afterward, adventurers head to the nearby Pismo State Beach to swim, surf, fish, or try their hand at clam digging. Visitors can have unlimited fun in this town at an average of $2,045 per person per week, making it one of the most affordable destinations to visit in California.
Death Valley National Park
Cost of vacation: $1,768 per person per week
Death Valley National Park entrance, California
Although the name sends chills to adventurers, visiting the Death Valley National Park is one of the best ways to witness the striking beauty of nature. Of course, without breaking the bank, as a 7-day vacation in the park is just $1,768 per person! In early spring, travelers go for the short Natural Bridge hike that rewards views of unique rock formations, wildlife sightings, and wildflower blooms. Alternatively, thrill seekers can go to the Badwater Basin to see the lowest point in the USA at 282 ft below sea level. The area features a vast, fascinating landscape with concentrated salt deposits covering approximately 200 square miles.
Cost of vacation: $1,715 per person per week
Mossbrae Falls in the Shasta Cascade in Dunsmuir, California
Renowned for possessing the most exquisite waters globally, Dunsmuir is yet another reasonably priced California destination; a single traveler’s 7-day vacation there typically costs $1,715 on average. For those who love the great outdoors, the little mountain town with its breathtaking waterfalls and picturesque hiking trails is bliss. The jaw-dropping Hedge Creek Falls and Mossbrae Falls provide incredible experiences, while Castle Crags State Park, striking granite peaks, dense forests, and gorgeous trails provide additional excitement that can fill a trip with amazing experiences without breaking the bank.
Cost of vacation: $1,682 per person per week
West Sacramento, California
Sacramento is California’s capital, offering plenty of fun activities, affordable restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions that make an unforgettable vacation experience. Moreover, getting around the city is cheap and convenient, as travelers rent bikes or use the public transit transport system. One of the must-visit places in Sacramento is the California State Capitol Museum, constructed in the late 19th century. Architecture buffs marvel at its grand Neoclassical style, as history lovers enjoy watching the free documentary films shown in the basement auditorium. With so many activities and experiences available at reasonable prices, this town is affordable, with a one-week vacation costing an average of $1,692 per person.
Big Bear Lake
Cost of vacation: $1,609 per person per week
Aerial, drone landscape over Big Bear Lake, California
Travelers get a bang for their buck when they visit Big Bear Lake in summer, compared to winter when the crowds flock here for skiing. Those who want to have an affordable vacation here can certainly have that, as the average cost of a one-week vacation here is about $1,609 per person. And visitors can have that by renting affordable cabins and campsites as they enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. Wildlife lovers tour the Big Bear Alpine Zoo to see grizzly bears, foxes, flying squirrels, Virginia opossums, and snow leopards. And bird watchers peel their eyes for mallard ducks, golden eagles, sparrow hawks, and American crows.
Cost of vacation: $1,545 per person per week
A morning view of the historic downtown Eureka, California, USA
Eureka, a historic seaside town, is another affordable California vacation spot with waterfront parks, scenic hiking trails, dining, and lodging, as well as many free things to do. The downtown is packed with Victorian-era buildings and also houses many lovely museums, art galleries, and antique stores. Some of the city’s tourist attractions include the Sequoia Park Zoo, Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Carson Mansion, the Renaissance-style Clarke Historical Museum, and Sequoia Park Garden. For water sports enthusiasts, the town also has the best fishing and clamming areas, as well as kayaking and boating tours. Visitors can budget their trip with free things to do in the town (visiting, which is impressively affordable at an average of $1,545 per person per week), such as walking tours of the historic Old Town, waterfront, and gardens.
Cost of vacation: $1,537 per person per week
Sacramento River, Redding, California
Redding is a charming city in Northern California with affordable attractions for every kind of vacationer. Nature lovers drive 15 minutes west of Redding to the expansive Whiskeytown National Recreation Area to explore the abundant natural space via hiking, biking, or horseback riding (all affordable activities). History buffs learn about California’s Gold Rush at the Shasta State Historical Park through restored buildings dating back to the 1800s. The constructions include a blacksmith’s shop, a brewery, and a barn with a stagecoach and farming tools. After exploring the ghost town, visitors rest on the picnic benches while enjoying a leisurely lunch. Thus, visiting Redding is certainly affordable because the average price of a 7-day trip to Redding is around $1,537 per person.