Skip to main content

7 Affordable Summer Getaways in California

7 Affordable Summer Getaways in California

Dream big and spend little as you enjoy these one-of-a-kind and affordable destinations in California.

Roubina Al Abashian


4 min read

April 20, 2023

Disclaimer: does not receive any kind of compensation for reviewing any of the products or services mentioned in this article.

California is one of the most sought-after destinations in the U.S. The Golden State’s vibrant cities, laid-back lifestyle, unparalleled sceneries, and world-class diners have earned it a reputation as a dream destination. At the same time, the state is also notorious for being super expensive. If expenses had you second-guessing your dream vacay to California, ensure you don’t let the luxurious lifestyle trick you into not enjoying your dream. Despite hardly being considered a budget-friendly destination, you can still get your California fixed without breaking the bank. With miles of breathtaking shorelines, gorgeous hiking trails, weird attractions, and acres of lush green parks, you can easily plan a cheap getaway in the state.  Dream big and spend little as you enjoy these unique and affordable California destinations.  

Affordable and Fun Places to Go On Vacation in Northern California

Nothing tells the story of California better than the still-standing structures of Old Sacramento.

1. Sacramento

The state capital represents all that California was, is, and is becoming. Streets and museums filled with history, a sizzling nightlife, an incomparable culinary scene, and outdoor recreational opportunities make the city a can’t miss-stop on any Northern California road trip. The best thing about Sacramento is that there are dozens of fun and free things to do in the city. Visit the California State Capitol Museum for a history lesson, tour Old Sacramento to relive the olden days, and hike, bike, and boat at Folsom Lake to enjoy the city’s nature.

Pack a basket and enjoy a calm afternoon picnicking at Fresno’s Woodward National Park.

2. Fresno

Not only is Fresno one of the cheapest places to live in California, but it also is one of the cheap places to vacation. All the conveniences of a big city can be found in Fresno, as well as the laid-back vibes of a small, charming town. Spend an afternoon at the charming Woodward National Park, where a stroll can get you into unison with nature. Raft through the San Joaquin River with Fresno Rafting Co. for an exciting thing to do in Fresno, and walk the streets of Downtown Fresno to better understand this chill city.

Mossbrae Falls is probably the most photographed attraction in Dunsmuir, so prepare to have your phone memory full.

3. Dunsmuir

Dunsmuir is claimed to have the best waters in the world, and who are we to disagree? The small mountain town with its beautiful waterfalls is a heaven for outdoor lovers. For the best Dunsmuir experience, hike towards the jaw-dropping spectacles, Mossbrae Falls, and Hedge Creek Falls — the gorgeous waterfall hikes will not disappoint you. For more fun things to do in Dunsmuir, spend an afternoon at Castle Crags State Park. With 3,000 acres of striking granite peaks, dense forests, and 28 miles of gorgeous trails, you will have little time to get bored.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.

Best Affordable Southern California Trip Ideas for This Summer

It is hard to believe that a trip to a gorgeous coastal town like Pismo Beach can be budget-friendly. But, hey, it is.

4. Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is a San Luis Obispo gem and a top place to vacation in California on a budget. With streets smelling of sea salt and seafood, and a laid-back community, all you can really do in the coastal town is sit back and relax. Pismo State Beach is an open call for surfing, swimming, and tanning. On its north end is the Monarch Butterfly Grove, an essential stop during the annual monarch butterfly migration season. Another must-visit is Pismo Pier, which extends 1,200 feet into the beach, and offers awesome views of the Pacific· Before you leave the area, make sure to stop at Dinosaur Caves Park as well. The beachfront park offers magnificent views of the sea caves below. 

Walking the streets of Solvang will make you realize that affordable summer getaways in California are the best.

5. Solvang

Looking for a California city that guarantees fun and won’t break the bank at the same time? Solvang, California’s own Danish Village, is what you’re looking for. The quaint little village with its colorful, farm-like architecture is perfect for strolls. As you walk the streets of Solvang, search for the five famous windmills, which are located one block apart from each other. Have a picnic at the charming Hans Christian Andersen Park, and most importantly, visit the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, where you’ll learn about Danish culture and the Danish-American immigrant experience. All these you can do without spending much money.

The only unlikable thing about Oxnard is that it has the tendency to take your breath away.

6. Oxnard

To every visitor’s delight, the charming town of Oxnard is one of the most affordable beach towns in the state. With miles of beautiful stretches of sand, and a historic downtown area, Oxnard is where you’ll find your peace of mind. Walk the streets of Heritage Square in Downtown Oxnard and check the restored Victorian buildings all around. Need a longer path to walk? Hike the 5.7-mile Harbor Island trail, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the harbor. If you enjoy catching good breaks, Mandalay State Beach is known to be one of the best surf spots in California. You’ll also enjoy visiting the Channel Islands Harbor, where you’ll find shops, restaurants, kayaks, and gondolas all around.

Can we all agree that Big Bear Lake is Mother Nature’s gift to humanity?

7. Big Bear Lake

There are at least a dozen awesome, two-hour road trips you can take from L.A., but the one to Big Bear Lake is the best of them all. The mountain wonderland is a haven for outdoor lovers, with most of the fun happening in and around the lake itself. Kayak and boat across the lake with your friends, and then spend the afternoon hiking the trails surrounding it. You can even spend the night at a campsite around Big Bear Lake. To make your stay even better, Big Bear Solar Observatory opens its doors to the public for free on the second and fourth Thursdays during June, July, and August.

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section