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6 Best Places to Stay Overnight in California That Won’t Break the Bank



Want to vacation in California, but don’t want to go broke doing it?  Maybe you’re a California resident looking for a reasonably priced staycation?  Check out this list of the best places to stay in California and learn what makes them unique and affordable!

1. The Queen Mary, Long Beach

Queen Mary in Long Beach, California

An experience like no other! And definitely, one of the most unique and best places to stay in California. With a rich history, your stay on the Queen Mary will be one to talk about. Built in the 1930s, The Queen Mary was one of the grand ocean liners of her time.  During WW2, she was retrofitted to transport troops. After the war, she returned to her passenger liner glory. 

Moored in Long Beach since 1967, she is now a living museum, hotel, and venue for events like weddings and birthday parties. Enjoy a stateroom with real working porthole windows, and take a tour or two that they offer.

Many guests today report sightings of ghosts and other strange phenomena, one of the many things that make the Queen Mary truly unique — and creepy! Fans of the paranormal and beautiful vintage decor will love it, and many return to stay again and again.

With lots to see and do in the area if you decide to get off the ship,  like The Aquarium of the Pacific and The Pike amusement park, (there is also a Cold War Russian submarine next to the ship!)  this is a great getaway. Book on their website, or check your favorite discount hotel finder for great deals.


  • Free WiFi
  • 346 guestrooms
  • 3 restaurants
  • Full-service spa
  • Rooftop terrace
  • Breakfast available
  • Health club
  • Valet parking
  • Business center
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Air conditioning
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Arcade/game room


2. The Kaleidoscope Inn, Nipomo

The Kaleidoscope Inn Nipomo

Built in 1887, this lovingly restored storybook Victorian home is easily one of the best places to stay in California. With antiques-filled cozy bedrooms and serene gardens, it’s a relaxing getaway. The Innkeepers are wonderful folks too, and they offer a full breakfast and treat you like family! Also, you’ll want to explore the sweet town while you’re there. 

Nipomo is in San Louis Obispo County and it has near-perfect warm weather year-round.  The most notable attraction is the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, the largest remaining dune system south of San Francisco and the second largest in the state of California. One part of the dunes is set aside for recreation,  like camping and off-road vehicle use.

In 1923, the epic film The Ten Commandments was shot at the Dunes, because Cecil B. Demille, the director, though it closely resembled the terrain of ancient Egypt. Some artifacts from the set are on display at The Dunes Visitor Center. 

Also, visit relaxing Pismo Beach nearby, and stop by Nipomo Farmer’s Market (open Sundays from 11:30 to 2:30) to grab some fresh locally grown produce before returning to your comfy room at the Kaleidoscope. Book through their website, or find a great deal on your favorite hotel finder.


  • Full Continental Breakfast
  • Afternoon homemade fudge & hot tea
  • Bottomless cookie jar (Oreos)
  • Microwave popcorn in the kitchen
  • Kitchen refrigerator available for leftovers
  • Tons of DVDs in our movie library for use in our DVD players or on your laptop in your room.
  • Free computer use with broadband web access in our kitchen
  • Free WiFi all day (and night) every day
  • The knowledgeable staff can offer recommendations for your stay in Nipomo


3. Hotel Petaluma, Petaluma

One of the most romantic and historic places to stay in California is the Hotel Petaluma. There’s more good news too – it just went through carefully executed renovations. This charming hotel was built in 1923, and it features a quaint old Otis elevator and lovely 1920s decor. 

The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance to many cute shops and restaurants.  Enjoy port wine tasting at Sonoma Portworks,  grab a delicious cheese platter (and the best ice cream ever!) at Petaluma Creamery. 

If you adore book stores,  don’t leave Petaluma without checking out Copperfield’s Books! It’s got two levels of new and used books. I can spend hours there. The photo ops of architecture and nature combined with small-town charm, make Petaluma truly special.

Stroll through Historic Downtown Petaluma and swoon over its Antique Fairs. (check seasonal schedules) Grab a bite to eat in one of many wonderful eateries, then listen to some music at the Phoenix Theater, (built in 1905!) before heading back to your charming room at the hotel. Book through their website, or find a great deal via your favorite hotel finder.


  • Free WiFi
  • 90 smoke-free guestrooms
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Lobby fireplace
  • Self-serve laundry
  • Luggage storage
  • Tour/ticket assistance


4. USA Hostels San Diego – Downtown

Looking to explore the sights of San Diego? Are you a fan of inexpensive hostels? Do you enjoy backpacking adventures with a group? We LOVE this quirky and fun hostel in San Diego! This hostel features a great selection of guest rooms and shared dorms. With friendly and helpful staff always ready to assist in finding you great things to do, your stay here will be unique and memorable.

You’ll love the lobby covered with artwork and the brightly painted walls and fixtures — and those staircases! Those staircases! Another fabulous thing about this hostel is the location, location, location!

It’s in Downtown San Diego, and a convenient walking distance to museums,  shopping,  awesome eateries,  the ocean, and nightlife.  You’ll make merry memories with your stay here. Bring your friends and make new ones too! Book through your favorite discount hotel finder, or their website.


  • Free continental breakfast and WiFi
  • 23 smoke-free guestrooms
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Self-serve laundry
  • Luggage storage
  • Tour/ticket assistance

Website: ttp://

5. The Cazador Yurt, Mt. Washington

Love yurts and glamping? (Glamorous camping.)  Love the retreat-like atmosphere and rustic serenity most yurts offer? If you don’t know what a yurt is, this will be a treat if you’re up for new experiences in unique overnight accommodations. And if you’re into adventure, then this is one of the best places for you to stay in California.

A yurt is a circular Mongolian version of a teepee and was utilized by traveling nomads of Central Asia. This yurt is conveniently located in the heart of Los Angeles! Set on a half-acre lot surrounded by fruit trees and hammocks, this place is a delight! The room features a skylight and charming decor. Just walk a few yards out the door and there is your outdoor bathroom, with sink and toilet, and outside shower with tankless water heater. 

Conveniently located to the sights of LA, yet an oasis in the middle of the city, it’s nice to come home to after the bustle of sightseeing if you choose to go out and explore.  You can even bring your doggie — but check with the owner first!


  • Internet (Wifi and hard-wired)
  • Electric Tea Kettle, French Press, Toaster Oven, Tea, and Coffee
  • Mini-Refrigerator
  • Fruit from the fruit trees (seasonal)
  • Wurlitzer Organ
  • Wood-Burning Stove
  • Swamp Cooler (eco AC)
  • Hammocks
  • Outdoor table, chairs and chaise lounge
  • Fire-pit
  • Bocce Ball
  • Horse Shoes
  • Shampoo


6. Remote Off-Grid Rustic Treehouse, Gasquet 

This one may be the most interesting of all the best places to stay in California. Are you thinking of living off the grid someday, but want to try it out first?  Unfazed by “roughing it” or the sounds of nature surrounding you? Check out this beautiful treehouse in the pines in scenic Gasquet California. Gasquet (pronounced GAS-kee) is 22 miles southwest of the Oregon border in Del Norte County. 

Experience life in an off-grid, sustainable eco-village! 18 feet off the ground, the treehouse is perched on two trees and it’s very cozy. The property is 160 acres of stunning Northern California wilderness. Wander the grounds and enjoy their large organic garden and edible landscaping, hike through forests and catch glimpses of wildlife all around you.

With no electricity or wifi in the treehouse and very limited cell phone service, be sure to read the entire description before you make the decision to embark on this unique adventure off the beaten path! This wonderful place is truly off-grid.


  • Lighting / Electricity: Your cabin does not have electricity; they try to keep a flashlight, lantern, and/or candle available for your use, though.
  • Kitchen: The outdoor kitchen has a small propane camping stove, and plenty of pots, pans, and utensils for your use.  They do not have refrigeration but do have coolers for storing food.
  • Bathrooms: Composting toilets (buckets with seats); there is an indoor toilet in the bathhouse. Hot shower in the sauna/bathhouse.
  • (Lack of) Phone / Internet: Some Verizon and US Cellular services are available, but AT&T and T-Mobile do not service their area.
  • They do not have wifi.


Patricia Pfältzer enjoys writing, (both fiction and non) beach strolling, traveling, drawing, jewelry-making, and button pushing.