Summer in California is the perfect time for playing on the beach, exploring state and national parks, and enjoying theme parks all over the state. It shouldn’t have to be high season for prices, though. When planning your trip, check the tourist board website of your destination and you’ll likely find offers that shave a little (or a lot) off your hotel rate, or bundles in freebies and nice amenities. This summer, a number of Golden State destinations are offering free gas gift cards to sweeten deals in addition to rewarding travelers for booking early and staying on weekdays. Here are 20-plus ways to add value to your summer getaway.
Spring State of Mind, Mt. Shasta
Located in the shadow of Mount Shasta, the former-motel-turned-hip-resort LOGE offers both hotel rooms and campsites, along with gear rentals, an on-site Finlandia Cafe, and free outdoor movie nights. Save 15 percent when you book at least 15 days in advance and arrive Sunday through Thursday. Book by June 15 for stays through June 30.
Up to 25 Percent Off at the Kenwood Inn, Sonoma Valley
This 29-room, Mediterranean-style inn in the Sonoma Valley is surrounded by three acres of vineyards and ancient oaks. Beyond the 25 percent discount, the deal provides free breakfast for two; afternoon wine, cheese, and cookies; and an evening nightcap. Good through June 16. For the rest of the summer, take 10 percent off your stay with the Summer Insider deal (good from June 17–Sept. 1), which includes most of the same perks.
Pride Month Package, Santa Monica
In honor of Pride Month, this beachfront Loews in Santa Monica offers the Love Loudly special: Enjoy a $100 food and drink credit during your stay, free valet parking (worth $55 a night), a fun goodie bag with Love Loudly tumblers, and free shuttle service to nearby attractions. Good through June 30. For later trips, book the Plan Ahead and Save deal, which takes 15 percent off the rate when you book at least 10 days beforehand.
For more deals in Santa Monica, check out the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows’ California Dreamin’ deal with a fourth night free plus up to $500 hotel credit and the Surf and Stay deal at the recently renovated Viceroy Santa Monica, which includes two surfboards or boogie boards, two wetsuits, a cooler, and the services of a beach butler. Both deals are ongoing.
$100 Local Business Gift Card, Truckee
Book a two-night trip to Truckee before June 23 and you’ll score a $100 Sustainable Truckee Gift Card, redeemable at 47 local businesses—including Bike Truckee, FiftyFifty Brewing Co., and Word After Word Books. Some proceeds from the card support stewardship projects such as Truckee's first all-inclusive, adaptive dirt bike trail.
$100 Gas Card, Big Bear
Plan a two-night stay through the Big Bear website before June 30 and you can score a $100 gas card, which you can pick up at the Big Bear Visitor Center—just be sure to choose the “Gas Card” deal online. Planning further out? When you stay at the mountain resort’s Hillcrest Lodge, you can add a free night on either Thursday or Sunday when you also book a Friday and Saturday (good through Nov. 30). Or book a three-night stay at Cool Cabins, using the promo code GASCARD, and get a $50 gift card for fuel. Good through Nov. 23.
Travel Tuesday Deals at Terranea, Rancho Palos Verdes
Follow the Terranea Resort on social media and you’ll get the scoop on weekly, act-now deals that post every Tuesday. Look for discounted rates or deals that bundle in dining credits or free valet parking. If you prefer to plan ahead, check out the Sunday Funday deal, which offers you a $150 dining credit and free valet when you extend your stay through a Sunday night. During June’s pride month, the resort will also donate $50 to the South Bay LGBTQ Center for any Sunday Funday stay during June.
Summer Escape to Napa Valley, St. Helena
Weekdays make for mellow visits to wineries, and this deal at the Wine Country Inn in St. Helena takes 20 percent off the rate for a three-night stay between Sunday and Thursday. Stays at the Napa Valley resort—comprised of 24 rooms, five cottages, and a pool—include a daily breakfast buffet and a split of local wine upon arrival. Good through August 31.
Laguna Summer Escape, Laguna Beach
Tucked in a Laguna Beach canyon, The Ranch at Laguna Beach offers a combination of good value and easy access to the beach just across the street. Stay for at least three nights at the sustainability-minded resort and enjoy a $100 resort credit that can be used toward on-site dining or tee times at its green-certified, 9-hole Ben Brown’s Golf Course. Good on Sunday through Thursday arrivals through Sept. 4.
When planning a trip to Laguna Beach, pick up a 2022 Passport to the Arts. For $29, you’ll receive one-time freeadmission to summer’s banner events—the Festival of Arts, Laguna Art-A-Fair, and Sawdust Art Festival—along with one-time, free parking at a nearby lot with shuttle services.
Fun in the Sun Package, San Diego
This special at the AAA Four Diamond Pacific Terrace Hotel offers a perfect dose of San Diego summer—located right along the beach path in Pacific Beach. Enjoy use of bikes and boogie boards, two tickets to ride the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park, and a goodie bag with beach gear. Good through Sept. 5.
Check the San Diego Tourism site for more deals, like a package at the Comfort Inn & Suites that includes free parking and two tickets to the San Diego Zoo. Or stay downtown at Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, where the Perfect Harmony package offers free parking and a $50 food and beverage credit—perfect for dinner before a show at the nearby Rady Shell. The waterfront Hilton also offers guests complimentary rides to Coronado Beach, where you can save up to 50 percent on kayaking and SUP tours with Bike & Kayak Tours Inc. Coronado.
$1 Kayak Tours, Redding
Redding is a prime spot for paddling, thanks in part to Whiskeytown Lake, where you can pay just $1 for ranger-led kayak or paddleboard tours. About an hour away, in Lassen Volcanic National Park, pay a vehicle entrance fee of just $30 to enjoy a week’s worth of swimming and hiking at Manzanita Lake. Mark your calendars for August 4 and September 24, which are free-admission days at all national parks.
As part of your trip to the Shasta Cascade, download the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway Passport: Get a stamp each time you visit one of the stops along the scenery-lined byway, including both Lassen and the Lava Beds National Monument. Upload or mail in your passport with three or more stamps and you could win a two-night stay with freebies along the byway (grand prize drawing on December 15, 2022).
The downtown Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina debuts a new water taxi this summer, making it easy to explore various stops along the city’s waterfront. Book this “Best of” package and you also get free parking and two tickets to one of the city’s top waterfront attractions, the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Good through Sept. 5.
Summer Savings in Pismo Beach
The easygoing beach town in San Luis Obispo County excels at clam chowder, dunes, and good value. Three local hotels are shaving prices this season: The Hot Summer Savings at The SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel and the Summer Savings at The Tides Inn both offer 10 percent off the best rate, while the Summer Savings at the Inn at the Cove brings down your rate by five percent. All three sit on blufftops over the sand, and offer nice perks such as fire pits, pools, and direct access to the beach. All three are also walking distance to local restaurants and the Pismo Beach Pier. Deals good through Sept. 21.
Splash of Summer, Greater Palm Springs
Summer in Greater Palm Springs brings lots of good pool time and prime deals, so a resort like Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa—with both a kid-friendly “Splashtopia” and an adults-only pool—makes a lot of sense. This deal bundles in a $100 food and beverage pool credit per stay plus an Omni pool towel. Book your trip up until September 10 for stays through September 29. The resort’s Stay and Splash deal, meanwhile, gives you 10 to 20 percent off your stay, depending on whether you stay one, two, or three nights (good through Sept. 30). Or check out the first Margaritaville Resort on the West Coast, where you can get 25 percent off through Sept. 5.
30 Percent Off at Forest Suites Resort, South Lake Tahoe
Stay in a room, suite, or condo at this resort in the heart of Heavenly Village, which is walking distance from the gondola, hiking trails, and restaurants. The package takes 30 percent off your rate and includes an “adventure kit” goodie bag, while every stay includes free breakfast and an on-site game room and pool. Good through Oct. 2.
Summer Sun & Fun at Strawhouse Resorts, Junction City
Hike the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, experience whitewater rafting thrills, and explore historic Weaverville from this resort of cottages, yurts, and RV sites in Trinity County. Shave 10 percent off the price of a minimum two-night stay when you use the coupon code ENJOYBIGFLAT. Valid through Dec. 31, excluding holidays.
Party of One Special, Mendocino
Solo travel can come with many perks—including, in this case, a nice $20 off your nightly rate. The adults-onlyGlendeven Inn & Lodge sits on 15 acres in Mendocino County and has a day spa, wine barn, and wandering llamas and goats (just type “Party of One” in the window as you book). All travelers, meanwhile, can get 10 percent off, even if they procrastinate a little. The Last-Minute Online-Only special offers 10 percent off a two-night stay when booked within one day of arrival—or even by 10 a.m. on the day you check in (just type “Last Minute” in the promotional window when booking online). Ongoing.
Wine and Farmers’ Market Packages, Yolo County
Taste your way around Yolo County from a comfortable base at the Marriott Residence Inn, Davis, which embraces the area’s agricultural and vinicultural bounty. Its Experience the Wines of Yolo County package includes one pass, per person, for visiting three wineries in the area (you can buy extra passes for $25 per person). The Davis Farmers’ Market package, meanwhile, includes a $25 gift card to spend at the local market, a welcome bottle of wine or sparkling cider, plus a 2 p.m. checkout to make the most of the market. Ongoing.
Free Valet or Gas at the Citizen Hotel, Sacramento
Housed in a 1925 building in downtown Sacramento, the Citizen Hotel is close to the capital city’s best restaurants and exudes plenty of political-history ambience. If you’re exploring the city, book the Hassle-Free Parking deal with unlimited in-and-out valet privileges, worth $37 a day by itself. And if you’re making Sacramento part of your road trip, choose the Good Citizen of the Road deal, which includes a $50 gas card, an in-room movie, and snacks for the car. Ongoing.
Relax, Refresh, & Renew at Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Beach
Engage in some self-care at this Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond waterfront resort in Newport Beach. This deal includes a $100 spa credit and minimizes any further stress by covering free parking and the daily resort fee. At the spa, try the heated Seashell Massage or the Mango Ginger Sugar Scrub. Must stay at least two nights. Ongoing.
Engagement on the Beach, Santa Monica
For the ultimate memorable summer getaway, consider popping the question at Shutters on the Beach. The elegant beachfront resort’s Engagement Package includes an ocean view room, a bottle of Champagne, and any variety of eyepopping add-ons. Order a custom chef’s dinner, a video recording of the proposal, or have “Marry Me” emblazoned on the Pacific Wheel at the Santa Monica Pier. Prices vary, depending on what you choose. Ongoing.