Traveling On A Budget? 3 Places To Go In California That’ll Make You Feel Like You’re In A Different Country (Hint: It’s Not LA!)


Traveling to and within California can sometimes be a limited experience. You go to Napa Valley for the wine and Hollywood for the stars, and forget everything in between.

But the reality is that the state is a lot more culturally and geographically diverse than most people know. In fact, if you’ve been dreaming of traveling outside of the country, but can’t afford it just yet, California is the perfect state to explore.

From snowy mountains and warm beaches, to sandy cove deserts and cool breezes, there is so much this state has to offer! Traveling on a budget? Here are 3 places to go in Cali that’ll make you feel like you’re in a different country.

Santa Catalina Islands 

Catalina Island Avalon California

Santa Catalina, one of California’s eight islands, is an ideal year-round getaway that lies just 50 miles southwest of Downtown Los Angeles and 22 miles off the coast.  

Known for its wide range of adventurous activities, such as zip lining and paddle boarding, to luxury spa days and scenic bike and glass-bottom boat rides, this place is the perfect destination for a traveler who likes to get into a variety of things. 

Even if you’re not someone who likes to be a busybody on vacation, Catalina Island has enough delicious food, strong drinks, and elegant 4-star country inns and lodges to keep you nice and comfy while you enjoy the warm sands and cool water. 


North and South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe California

Sun AND snow in California? That sounds like a myth doesn’t it? Not if you spend some time in North or South Lake Tahoe— two opposite sides of the same coin of Lake Tahoe, a freshwater lake located in the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

I know you’ve noticed the distinction made between the North and South and may be wondering what the difference is. Well, truthfully, everything and nothing! Both places are beautiful and ideal for fun with family, friends, or a nice solo trip.

However,  North Lake Tahoe is a better winter destination. It’s a great place to get into snow sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling while getting warm and cozy indoors in a more quiet, mountain-town style resort vacation. 

South Lake Tahoe, on the other hand, is a great summer getaway. There are sandy beaches, a variety of water sports to get into, and great hiking trails. On the flip side, the nightlife with clubs, restaurants, and casinos, makes the atmosphere so much busier! 


Korakia Pensione at Palm Springs

Korakia Penisone California

Palm Springs, California isn’t the first place you think of when you want to escape the typical Southern California feel on vacation, but hear me out!

Right in Downtown Palm Springs, there’s a gorgeous romantic resort that features Moroccan and Mediterranean themed villas named, Korakia Penisone.  And it has all the elements of a resort getaway that’s worth every penny. 

There’s free breakfast, cruiser bikes for the guests to ride, heated salt water pools, indoor/outdoor spa lodge, yoga classes, and even vintage movies played every night. 

But the real magic is in the decor! Remember when we said you’ll feel like you’re in a different country here? It’s true! The antique furniture, gorgeously carved wooden doors, and richly colored textiles gives every little bit of North Africa and Southern Europe! 

And let’s not forget the natural atmosphere bringing the overseas vibe to California! From the Korakia Penisone official website:

“With citrus blossoms, olive trees, oleander bushes, date palms, bougainvillea vines, Moroccan fountains and a stone waterfall spread across the main courtyard, every aspect of the villas have been restored to the artistic ambiance of their halcyon days.”

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Senior writer and graphics editor at EmilyCottontop. Patrice has been a member of the Emilycottontop team for over 4 years. For strategic partnerships, advertising, and sponsored content ✉️


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