Best things to do in California for the budget traveler

photo by CC user Chmee2 on wikimedia

Want to include the Golden State on your itinerary, but concerned about the cost as a backpacker? While this definitely isn’t the cheapest spot in America, there is still plenty to do here for penny pinchers. This article will uncover the best things to do in California for the budget traveler, so don’t reroute your plans around this essential American state – embrace it!

1) Go for a hike on the North Coast, or the Sierra Nevada

Going for a walk in the woods, apart from national park fees (get a pass from the feds if you plan on visiting a bunch of them) doesn’t cost anything, yet it provides you huge dividends in the awe-inspiring views and exercise that you get in return.

The best two places to do this is along the North Coast, where Giant Redwoods give testimony to the awesome power of nature, and in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, where a mix of waterfalls, granite rock, and verdant pine forests will soothe your soul and restore your faith in this experience we call life.

2) Go surfing

Another way to meditate on existence while waiting for an exhilarating 30 second thrill ride is to head to a secluded beach along California’s 3,400 mile coastline and ride one of the amazing swells that roll in constantly from the open Pacific Ocean.

Rentals can be had at reasonable rates in most California surf towns, with better rates available from ones a bit further off the beaten track (i.e. rates will be higher in Orange County than upstate along the North Coast). Head out with the locals and let them give you an authentic Californian experience that you won’t soon forget.

3) Visit the desert during shoulder season

Winter is a bad time to head out to Palm Springs, as snowbirds fleeing the cold stuff drive prices sky high, while summer turns this part of the state into a frying pan.

Shoulder season is the sweet spot you’ll want to aim for as a budget traveler, as spring and fall have more reasonable temperatures, but prices are still well off the high mark set during peak season.

Explore the harsh but beautiful terrain in Death Valley, go to a music festival in the Coachella Valley, or sample the gay friendly nightlife for which this part of the state has long been famous.

4) Go on a walking tour of Hollywood (LA) and/or the Mission District (SF)

In the cities, prices are high at first blush, but much of the appeal of visiting places like Los Angeles or San Francisco can still be had by simply wandering around.

The cultural diversity of the Mission District offers up a variety of sights, from old Christian monasteries to urban murals, along with some of the trendiest eateries/bars in the city.

Hollywood is the centre of the American film industry , with a number of attractions like Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Sign itself easily visitable by those with two feet and a heartbeat.

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