A view of the beach at Post Ranch Inn
Brett Colbert/Flickr

Where to Stay

Where to Stay
Learn more about the fantastic accomodation options in the golden state

Whether you dream of a luxury suite overlooking the ocean, a boutique hotel in the heart of a city, a full-service resort or a serene campsite under the stars, California has the perfect place to spend the night. Book a stay at a major chain almost anywhere in the state or consider accommodations as distinctive as California itself: handsome stone-and-timber mountain lodges, restored Gold Rush hotels, snug inns and ultra-exclusive retreats in one-of-a-kind settings. There are also millions of acres of unforgettable parkland where all you need is a tent, a sleeping bag, marshmallows and a few good campfire stories. And, maybe, a reservation.

California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies can offer good suggestions for all types of accommodation, including resorts, hotels and motels.

Hotels & Motels: Hotels and motels are the tried-and-true standard for most holidays, providing a safe, clean and comfortable place to go to sleep at night. They are important here. Remember, California invented the motel back in the 1920s. Top chains are well represented statewide, and are often located in larger metropolitan areas and near tourist attractions and travel routes. Boutique hotels tend to offer a more intimate and luxuriously stylish environment for visitors. In more rural areas, consider independently owned accommodation, some in historic buildings.

Bed & Breakfasts: California has hundreds of B&Bs, many in historic homes or hotels and a growing number at family-run (and family-friendly) farms, ranches and vineyards. B&Bs can give a sense of the region's local character, with helpful innkeepers happy to share insider travel tips. Your stay also includes breakfast—imagine, freshly baked scones, fresh eggs or strawberries from the garden. To reserve a stay at one of nearly 300 B&Bs statewide, visit the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI).

Resorts: Certain parts of the state—the Deserts region, coastal communities and mountain resort towns—are renowned for five-star retreats, with many championship golf courses and tennis complexes, spectacular swimming pools, destination restaurants and elegant spas (often open to the public). California’s celebrated wine regions also have ultra-luxury retreats, with romantic settings, unparalleled farm-to-table cuisine and, of course, incredible wine lists. Many resorts also offer special activities for children, like movie-and-popcorn nights, so parents can enjoy time alone while their children have experienced childcare. Weddings and reunions can book private event spaces and exclusive catering services. For top resorts statewide, check California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.

RVs: You can also rent a house on wheels. RVs are welcome at public and private campgrounds statewide. Below are some resources to try; also check the California Welcome Centers and local tourism agencies.

Camping: In California, camping is everything it should be—pitch your tent under the stars at campgrounds scented with pine trees, next to alpine lakes and desert oases or on a spectacular stretch of coastline. If “roughing it” isn't your style, try “glamping” or glamorous camping, in outdoor settings with fully equipped tents or rustic cabins or even Mongolian-style yurts.

Or, consider renting a ready-to-roll RV; check individual campsites in advance for any RV restrictions. 

You can also backpack deep into California's expansive wilderness areas—just be sure you have a permit before you head out (check individual locations for permit requirements).



Many state and national parks permit camping, although some popular locations such as Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon tend to fill up months in advance, so reserve as early as possible. Federal lands operated by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife, also have thousands of campsites, which are often without crowds, even during the summer months. There are also many outstanding private campgrounds statewide.

Where to Stay Pillars_RoadTrips_OR_RD_11220565_1280x640

Time to hit the road and explore the Golden State

Road Trips

Where to Stay vca_maps_no-region
16
April
Average (°C)
Mar - May
20°
High
11°
Low
June - Aug
24°
High
16°
Low
Sept - Nov
24°
High
12°
Low
Dec - Feb
18°
High
8°
Low

Endless sunshine, amazing cities, best-in-class theme parks, incredible natural treasures—no matter what you want to do and see on your next vacation, California has it. But here's the best part: California has all the iconic destinations you've dreamed of visiting, plus a countless number of incredible off-the-beaten-track experiences. With our exclusive trip itineraries, you can visit bucket-list landmarks like Yosemite, then follow a wine road or visit a craft brewery. Top theme parks, secret beaches, city finds—they’re all here in easy-to-follow road trips that visit every corner of the state. So start dreaming about your next California vacation—and dream big.

Where to Stay CoastalRocks_FortBragg_LH_1280x642

Trip 4 days 10 stops

Wild North Coast

Wine, Romance & Sunsets
Where to Stay VC_Hero_Manley -1280x642

Start your trip with one of the world’s great cities. For a novel way to explore 'the City by the Bay' park your car and explore by foot, bike and unique public transport. Pedal bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, then explore the lush Presidio, a former military base that is now...

Where to Stay BatteryPointLighthouse_CrescentCity_BillYoung_1280x642

The last stop on this spectacular road trip ends at the very last city in California. Only 20 miles south of Oregon, sea faring Crescent City is home to the northernmost of California’s lighthouses. Overlooking the town’s harbour, the 1856 Battery Point Lighthouse, built with 22-inch thick slabs...

Where to Stay VCW_D_SC_T6_Mt Shasta_Kodiak__35a2159_1280x642
Kodiak Greenwood

Trip 4 - 6 days 10 stops

Volcanoes to the Sea

Booming Waterfalls, Craft Breweries
Where to Stay Sacramento_TowerBridge_DeltaKing_1280x642_0

Begin your trip in the centre of the state, home to the capital city of Sacramento. Like many cities, California’s state capital is undergoing an energetic renaissance. Young adults looking for an urban vibe are moving into this low key city, with micro breweries, gastropubs and trendy boutiques...

Where to Stay EurekaCarsonMansion.CourtesyRedwoods.info__1

After so much wildness for so much of your trip, Eureka is an inviting and lively switch. This once rough and tumble seaport town, the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, has a split personality charm: a sense of history in the handsomely restored, Victorian...

Where to Stay VCW_D_GC_T8_HelwigWinery_Flippen-1280x642

Trip 4 days 10 stops

California Gold

Whitewater Rafting, Tucked-Away Wineries
Where to Stay Sac_StateCapitol_1280x642

Begin your trip in the centre of the state, home to the capital city of Sacramento. Like many cities, California’s state capital is undergoing an energetic renaissance. Young adults looking for an urban vibe are moving into this low key city, with micro breweries, gastropubs and trendy boutiques...

Where to Stay VCW_D_GC_T7_WellsFargo_Columbia_Flippen_Webdam-1280x642

With throwback charm and a treasure trove of historic artefacts, this park presents the Gold Rush in living, breathing colour. Costumed guides do more than lead tours of this carefully preserved Mother Lode town, the state’s second largest city at the peak of the Gold Rush, they actually live...

Where to Stay VCW_D_Yosemite_Hero_20140503_Yosemite_hero_1280x642

Trip 6-7 days 10 stops

Sierra Adventure

Granite peaks, alpine valleys, towering trees-the High Sierra is nature's playground all year-round
Where to Stay VCW_D_HS_T3_Tahoe_Swim_Farnum_0

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California Nevada border is a must, a place where the air is 'very pure and fine...it is the same the angels breathe,' according to author Mark Twain. Lake front towns dot the shoreline, each with their own appeal...

Where to Stay CalaverasBTSP_sized

On your way to this park, save time to visit the charming Gold Country town of Murphys (a great place for wine tasting and innovative dining along the town’s main street). Then continue north and east to discover peaceful groves of giant sequoias at this under-the-radar park. Established...

Where to Stay VCW_TI_5_Hero_Baybridge-IMG_5424b copy

Trip 3-5 days 10 stops

San Francisco Bay Loop

Discover this something-for-everything loop tour around an iconic bay
Where to Stay SF_GoldenGate_1280x642

Start your trip with a visit to one of the most iconic spans in the world. With towers soaring 746 feet into the sky, its span arcing across the mouth of San Francisco Bay, and all of it painted fire engine red, the Golden Gate Bridge makes a dramatic destination, and a great way to begin a tour...

Where to Stay PaintedSisters_SanFrancisco_1280x642

End your road trip by exploring one of the world’s great cities. Famous for grand dame Victorian buildings, classic cable cars, dynamic diversity, a beautiful waterfront and a soaring crimson bridge, the 'City by the Bay' truly has it all. Trend defining cuisine ranging from Michelin...

Where to Stay vcw_ti_6_hero_cc_bigsur_coast_ts_1280x642_0

Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
Where to Stay VCW_TI_7_Hero_CV_SunflowerField_Flippen.jpg_1280-sized_downsized_0
Laura Flippen

Trip 3-5 days 10 stops

California's Heartland

Pick fresh produce, relax in cool gardens, and learn about local farming heritage
Where to Stay SundialBridge_1280x642

This relaxed city has some secret gems that make a pleasing start to your trip. Start at Sundial Bridge, a functional work of art, the remarkable pedestrian bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, spans the tree lined, trout-filled Sacramento River in Redding’s Turtle...

Where to Stay VCW_D_CV_T9_Buck Owens Crystal Palace 4_sized

This rapidly growing city in the southern Central Valley is full of pleasant surprises. Once known for oil and agriculture, Bakersfield is morphing into a Central Valley hub for arts, culture and sports, while still offering a glimpse of the region’s past. One fascinating historical site worth a...

Where to Stay VCW_TI_8_hero_Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.35.53 AM_v3

Trip 4-5 days 10 stops

Pacific Coast Highway - South

Beach Towns, Iconic Theme Parks
Where to Stay VCW_D_SantaBarbara_Hero_CC_SBarbaraPier_KG_1280x642

Start your coastal cruise in this elegant city hugging the coastal mountains, where classic Spanish architecture gives the region a sun washed European look straight out of the Riviera. Santa Barbara, nicknamed 'the American Riviera,' has a burnished antique look like much of the Mediterranean,...

Where to Stay BalboaPark_night_1280x642

End your trip with at this sunny, waterfront city. Downtown, shop at Horton Plaza, or catch a baseball game at Petco Park. See the giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Next, explore one of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, Little Italy, North Park, South Park, East Village, pedestrian friendly...

Where to Stay VCW_D_IE_T10_DE_Route66_Barstow_Lauridsen1280x642

Trip 3-4 days 10 stops

Route 66 - The Mother Road

Legendary Highway, California Dream
Where to Stay SantaMonica_BikePath_JoakimLloydRaboff_1280x642_0

Start your trip in this idyllic oceanfront city, surrounded by a 3.5 mile long beach, and feeling more like a weekend getaway spot than a city just a few minutes west of downtown Los Angeles. Car free options, including a shuttle to Los Angeles International Airport (8 miles south) make it a...

Where to Stay VCW_D_DE_T5_Anza-Borrego_Manley-1280x642

On your way to this park, you’ll pass through the little community of Borrego Springs. Stop in at the town’s visitor centre to get driving maps to an astounding collection of enormous prehistoric animals, metal sculptures made by artist Ricardo Breceda, that dot the surrounding desert landscape...

Where to Stay VCW_D_NC_T1_RedwoodNP_Manley-sized
Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Northern California

Explore the best of Northern California's Great Outdoors
Where to Stay VC_Hero_Manley -1280x642

It may measure less than 50 square miles, but San Francisco justly ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world. Famous for grand dame Victorian homes, classic cable cars, dynamic diversity, a beautiful waterfront and a soaring crimson bridge, the  'City by the Bay' is the perfect place to...

Where to Stay VCW_D_T3_MUWO_140510_LRu_08_ copy

Tucked into an ocean-facing fold of Mount Tamalpais, the signature peak just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, Muir Woods National Monument protects the last stand of uncut old-growth coast redwoods in the Bay Area, where loggers had all but denuded the region by the late 1800s....

Where to Stay SanDiego_RegionOpener_1280x642 copy

Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Southern California

Beach Towns & Big Thrills
Where to Stay LA-GriffithObs-1280x624_0

Your trip begins in California’s largest city. LA has non-stop action and things to do, but it can be a challenge to navigate, so planning your trip in advance is a big plus. Start in the coastal city of Santa Monica, with a wide, uncrowded beach, a signature pier topped by carnival rides and...

Where to Stay KingsCanyonNationalPark_TomHilton_1280x642

Famous for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons and roaring rivers, this tandem set of parks have plenty to see, even though they are less well known than Yosemite, roughly 75 miles north. Within the borders of Sequoia & Kings Canyon are Mount Whitney, the highest point in...

Ragged Point

Trip 3-4 days 8 stops

San Luis Obispo to Ragged Point

Venture from San Luis Obispo up Highway 1 to discover pristine coastline, small beach towns and a fabled landmark