10 Best Places to Travel in California This Spring Break
When thinking about where you wanna spend your Spring Break, what are the first questions you ask yourself? Is it “how much do I have to spend”? “Where will I have the most fun?” “What do I imagine my ‘dream vacation’ to look like?” I can answer all of these questions: California is the place to be. Why else would they write so many songs about the Golden State? From the blue water of the Pacific Ocean to the towering trees in the Sierra Mountains, California has a setting for any vacationers. It’s picture-perfect enough for any Hollywood blockbuster (or Instagram feed), and the variety of activities is endless.
Here is a list of my top 10 Spring Break recommendations, where I go through my favorite places and list the pros and cons:
10. San Francisco
If you are looking to stay in a city with attractions waiting for you a short trolley ride away, San Francisco is the destination for you. San Francisco is home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and Alcatraz Island. One of the best reason to stay in San Francisco is the convenience of it’s City Pass. For around $90, you get access to unlimited access to cable car rides for the week. It also includes admission to the California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure (which takes you around the Golden Gate Bridge), Aquarium of the Bay, and Exploratorium. This is a great deal for anyone looking to get around the city fast and wanting to access these attractions. The only downside to staying in San Francisco, in my opinion, is the price of lodging. Hotel rooms average around $120-$160 a night, some even ranging in the $400s. If you are looking for a great deal on hotel rooms, I suggest checking out kayak.com for flight and hotel options.
For more attraction ideas, check out Nomadic Matt’s guide on How to Spend Three Days Touring San Francisco.
9. Napa Valley
If you head a couple of hours north of San Francisco, you will hit the beautiful Napa Valley. Napa Valley is known for its vast vineyards and amazing winery experiences. You have easy access to the most luxurious experiences, from hotel rentals with amazing views to some of the best spa treatments in California. During the month of April, they are hosts a Napa Valley Arts exhibit. The #1 con I see for this area includes that it’s only a pretty view for anyone under the drinking age.
For more information, feel free to visit Victoria McGinley’s Ultimate Napa Travel Guide.
8. Big Sur
Between Carmel and San Simon lies a lovely little place called Big Sur. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and state parks along the Pacific Highway. Camping and lodging are available right on the beach at most locations. With attractions such as Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and the Bixby Bridge, you will never see a dull moment in this area. Big Sur is also one of the more affordable options on this list, so you won’t break the bank exploring all that this scenery has to offer. During April 5-8, 2018, the Pebble Beach Resorts will be hosting a Pebble by the Beach Food and Wine event. Additionally, at Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove on April 14-15, 2018, there will be a Pacific Grove Good Old Days event hosted by local vendors.
For more attraction and lodging recommendations, check out Lauren Conrad’s Complete Travel Guide to Big Sur, California.
7. Palm Springs
Palm Springs is the ultimate destination for cheap hotels and attractions. It’s filled to the brim with art and culture-based activities. You have the options to walk around sites such as the Morton Botanical Garden and even hike trails such as the Cactus to Clouds Trail. Casinos in the area provide constant entertainment; make sure to check on their websites to find something that fits your itinerary. If you have never been to Palm Springs, I highly suggest going. The architecture and art centers are at least worth a daytime visit.
For more recommendations and in-depth look at local hotels, visit Salt Canary’s Ultimate Palm Springs Travel Guide.
6. Sequoia National Park
This national park is one of the best places in California to camp out and explore nature. The Sequoias has been serving as a National Park institution since 1890. Here you can enjoy a hike around the park to see these world-famous trees. General Sherman (one of the world’s largest trees) is something you need to see to believe. Campsites in the park range from around $20 per night while lodging can cost around $120 (which is a cheaper by a significant amount compared to other options on this list).
For more attractions in the park, pay a visit to Local Adventurer’s 15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon.
5. Santa Monica
Santa Monica is the best beachfront city near Los Angeles. The city is known for its famous Pier and Pacific park over the ocean. In Santa Monica, there is never a dull moment. If you are looking for constant activities and a good tan, this is the Spring Break vacation for you. Hotels can get a bit pricey, most of them ranging from $130-150 per night. However, this a fraction of what you’d pay to stay in the heart of Los Angeles (which is an hour drive away). With all of the surroundings taken into account, I think trips is worth spending the extra for lodging.
For more attractions and housing options, check out Lauren Conrad’s Santa Monica Neighborhood guide.
4. Monterey Bay
I like to describe Monterey Bay as classier, more sophisticated version of San Francisco Bay. This was one of my favorite places to visit as a child, and someplace I hope to re-visit soon. Monterey Bay is home to the iconic Monterey Bay Aquarium and Fisherman’s Wharf. If you visit here, I hope you are not allergic to shellfish; you are bound to find some delicious clam chowder. Monterey Bay also happens to be a short drive away from Santa Cruz. Hotels are on the more expensive side, ranging from $140-$160 (always check out kayak.com for the best deals). As long as you pack a jacket, Monterey Bay is an amazing Spring Break destination.
For more a better attraction itinerary, visit This is My Happiness’s post on 30 Things to Do in the Monterey Bay Area.
3. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a desert paradise waiting to be found. Don’t let the name fool you! During the spring, Death Valley is home to some of most beautiful wildflowers in the nation. Another reason to go is that the Keane Wonder Mine just re-opened this past November after being closed since 2008! It is one of the unique mining experiences you will find in California. The only con to Death Valley is that camping and lodging sites tend to get packed around the spring season due to the flower fields. If you are planning on sending you Spring Break here, I highly recommend making reservations soon.
For a great Californian view of Death Valley, visit California Through My Lens’s Death Valley National Park Travel Guide.
2. La Jolla
La Jolla is the best vacation spot in San Diego. It is jam-packed full of shopping, attractions, and unique tours, such as the La Jolla Playhouse and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Windansea, La Jolla Cove, and Scripps Park. Hotel rooms range from around $120-130 per night. La Jolla truly represents the “picture-perfect so-cal lifestyle”. This city would not be complete without its amazing cuisine, from its fine dining options to its street tacos. No wonder it’s called the “jewel of San Diego”.
For a budget-based guide to La Jolla, check out the City Sidewalks’ weekend guide to La Jolla.
1. Yosemite National Park
The #1 location on my list (by a landslide) is Yosemite National Park. Though all of the places listed in this post have amazing attractions and sights, nothing compares to what Yosemite has to offer. There is something for everyone that comes here. During one of my spring break vacations, my family went to Yosemite for the week and it actually snowed! (Pictures attached). Yosemite hosts some amazing hiking trails, such as Mist Falls, Yosemite Falls, and Half-Dome. Campsites range around $20 per night, while lodging in the park can cost around $130. The stunning views you will see in Yosemite makes it an amazing location for your Spring Break endeavors.
For more thorough links and itinerary ideas, visit Dirt in My Shoes’ list of the 12 Things You Can’t-Miss on Your First Visit to Yosemite.
So, what are your favorite places to visit in California during Spring Break? Please leave a comment below; I’d love to hear your recommendations. If you have any tips for future-travelers, feel free to leave a comment as well. I hope you enjoyed my first blog post on this site. I plan on posting twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays. If you’d like to keep informed, follow my Pinterest and Instagram. I plan on keeping both regularly updated with my latest posts and photography shots. Is there anything you’d like me to further research? If so, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am looking forward to growing my site into a place where people can come and find the budget-travel information they are looking for.
Stay Lovely, Wanderlost Souls!