California Vacation Tips for West Coast-Bound Travelers

No matter where you go, a California vacation provides time to relax, explore and immerse in culture. The state features four large regions: coastal, central valley, desert and mountains. Each offer their own welcoming landscapes and adventures that allow travelers to design a custom experience. For those new to the West coast, we rounded up some quick California vacation tips to help plan. Get started.

6 California Vacation Tips: Start Planning a Memorable Trip

Pick a Destination

California is a big state. The coast region has over 800 miles of beaches along the Pacific Ocean packed with scenery, marinas, harbors and trails. In central valley, explore one of the most productive agricultural regions in the U.S. Visit wineries, find local food, meet farmers and sample fresh flavor. The California desert region houses some of the best golf courses and shopping in the state. Nature lovers will enjoy the mountain region — home to the Sierra Nevada range, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park.

Based on interests and activities, pick a region, then city. This helps visitors narrow down where to go and what to do.

Schedule Activities

Next decide which activities to enjoy. If visiting San Diego, Newport Beach or Dana Point, consider whale-watching tours and fishing. The cities also offer area tours that go deep into the valley and visit area wineries. Those in Palm Desert and La Quinta should book tee times at award-winning courses, 4×4 tours and take sightseeing adventures in the mountains. In addition, Los Angeles and Anaheim are home to Disney California Adventure Park and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Book a Vacation Rental

While California has thousands of hotels, vacation rentals will offer a more private and flexible option. Imagine staying in a luxurious home overlooking the ocean. Or wake up to rolling greens and have direct access to golf. Those who want to live like a celebrity will find homes in Malibu located near the rich and famous. Browse California vacation rentals.

Find Flights and a Car

Once the basics are covered, now it’s time to find flights and rental cars. For airfare deals, consider traveling on Monday-Wednesday. These days are typically less traveled and offer better pricing. AirfareWatchDog updates their site with flight deals, with round-trips as cheap as $40 per ticket.

In addition, most will want to rent a vehicle to accommodate the group. While many coastal areas are bikeable, many attractions are spread out throughout the area. Plan to rent a car or SUV, so everyone is safe and comfortable. Depending on the time of year, reserve a car in advance to have the best options.

Pack for the Season

Also among the top California vacation tips is packing for weather. While it seldom rains in California — especially in the desert — the state’s climate and temperatures can vary. Summer highs can easily reach into the 100s, and winter lows can dip into the 20s and 30s.

Depending on the time of year, remember to pack according to the weather. Ample sun protection ranks among the most important, as well as a light jackets, comfortable shoes, jeans, swimwear and a sweater. During the day, plan to wear shorts, dresses and T-shirts. At night, dress a little warmer to stay comfortable.

Bonus: Brush Up on Spanish

English remains the No. 1 language in California, however the state also features a large Latino population. Those who want to immerse in Latin-American culture and speak with locals may want to learn a few phrases. Read these Reader’s Digest suggestions to get basic Spanish phrases to use in California.

Need more California vacation tips? Read articles about events, restaurants, shopping and activities in California.