Where to stay between San Francisco and Los Angeles

There are vast places where you can stay between San Francisco and Los Angeles, depending on your budget and preference, ranging from classics to newer resorts that blend beautifully with the landscape, showing those glorious views. 

For low-budget accommodation, consider camping options such as state parks and national forests, hostels and budget hotels, or some sharing options, such as Airbnb or VRBO. If your budget is flexible, you may consider boutique hotels, bed, and breakfasts, vacation rentals, such as cabins or cottages, RV parks, or campgrounds. 

Use high-end hotels and resorts if you are not ready to compromise luxury, comfort, and privacy. These include luxury vacation rentals, such as villas or beach houses, and glamping options, such as luxury tents or yurts. 

Match your budget with the best option that you could have. Do not compromise comfort with affordability. After all, you are on vacation. Use the best experience ever. Below are accommodation options you can compare and contrast to match your needs. 

Budget-friendly options

Table Of Contents

Camping options, such as state parks and national forests

Most campsites between San Francisco and Los Angeles are state-owned and require reservations. When you choose one, go to its website and follow the reservation instructions. Pfeiffer Big Sur SP has bigger spaces for RV. 

It has the most beautiful landscape shots of its beaches and cliffs. Malibu Creek campground is one of the best campgrounds in Malibu, with hiking, fishing, bird watching, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more. Pets are allowed, and the campground contains drinking water and tent and RV camping sites.

Camping at Carpinteria State Beach comes with a beautiful stretch of coastline only 12 miles south of Santa Barbara. The campground contains tent and RV camping, drinking water, and dispersed camping. Dogs are allowed, but not on the beach. For more natural areas, check out San Bruno Mountain State Park.

Hostels and budget hotels

Use a great selection of youth hostels within easy reach of popular attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Universal Studios, and the Griffith Observatory. You can find budget-friendly LA hostels close to any area of interest. You can have a hostel that suits your needs. For a bit of luxury, you can have those that have a pool.

When you want to be close to the action, check out hostels in star-studded Hollywood, where you’ll find some of the city’s most famous attractions. If you’re after a beach vibe, you’ll love laid-back Santa Monica, where you can choose between hitting the waves or riding the attractions at the waterfront amusement park. Venice Beach has boardwalks full of street performers, colorful murals, and roller skaters. 

Image by RachH from Pixabay

You could hike the Griffith Park Trail and end up at the observatory to watch the sunset over the city or spend a day at Venice Beach strolling the boardwalk and exploring the bohemian backstreets. For chilled days in the city, check out the weekly flea markets in West Hollywood or trendy bars and restaurants downtown. The bay area offers a range of accommodations suited to your needs at a reasonable price. Try Hawthorne Plaza Inn, Travelodge, Ramada, Freehand, and more.

Home-sharing options, such as Airbnb or VRBO

You can still find affordable housing in San Francisco, but it is tough. Turn to share a living space with a roommate or multiple roommates for a cost-effective way to have a private room while still being able to afford rent in a desirable location. 

Look for a private room for rent in a coliving home. That is for people who want privacy but still want to be part of a community. You can look for a shared room, sharing a bedroom with one or more roommates. That can be more affordable since you are paying for your bed. There is less privacy. 

Mid-range options

Boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts

Hotel G is at the heart of the galleries and museums of SOMA, where you can take tea in Chinatown or explore the Beat history of North Beach. That is steps away from Union Square and located for people in town for business or pleasure. 

It features a brand-new full-service meeting room, bringing innovation and style to inspire and ignite creativity for small meetings and receptions. Palihotel Melrose Avenue, Hotel Normandie LA, Freehand Los Angeles, and Inn at Playa del Rey are other boutique hotels. 

Boutique hotels with full-time staff 24-7 are similar to a hotel, but on a smaller scale. In contrast, the B&B is characterized by services provided by owners, family members, and temporary staff rather than full-time staff. 

The best Bed and breakfast in San Francisco are Moonstone Landing, The Inn on Knowles Hill Boutique Hotel, Little Sur Inn, and EL Royale Hotel. These B&B accommodations provide unique experiences, and vacations are minutes away from San Francisco. Check reviews for a better experience.

Vacation rentals, such as cabins or cottages

The Marble Mountain Ranch is a Dude Ranch with fully furnished deluxe homes and housekeeping cottages with full kitchens. Out Livin’ provides cabins filled with adventure glamping experiences within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The mountain environments are therapeutic and refreshing. McCloud Vacation Home on Mt. Shasta is a vacation rental cabin home that serves as a mountain retreat for discerning families bound for the unspoiled beauty.

RV parks and campgrounds

If you’re planning a road trip to Los Angeles, you can research locations to stop, along the way. Check road conditions to double-check the weather. Find the best RV parks and campgrounds. Book a stay in Siskiyou’s pristine, wild landscapes near its majestic mountains. Amongst the campgrounds is Rob Hill Group Campground Presidio, Candlestick RV Park, Sunset Point, Candlestick Point SRA,  Kirby Cove, Golden Gate National Rec Area, and many more. 

Luxury options

High-end hotels and resorts

You can stay in a budget hotel and have more money for food, experiences, and shopping, but if you do have a reason not to treat yourself to one of the best hotels in San Francisco, go for it. Plenty of chic and boutique spots in the center of downtown or historic mansions overlook the Bay. 

You’re guaranteed an experience you’ll unlikely forget at these luxury hotels. Book a hotel near the best attractions or atop Nob Hill to feel like an 18th-century railroad tycoon. Look for 24/7 room services, luxury wine tastings, quirky food, and killer locations.

The best hotels in San Francisco include the Hotel Drisco, a sophisticated and welcoming boutique hotel in the posh Pacific Heights neighborhood with luxury amenities like complimentary nightly wine receptions and a chauffeur service that runs to popular spots on weekdays. You needn’t leave the hotel since there is a 24hr service. It is close to Presidio National Park. You can also stay at 1 Hotel or Omni San Francisco.

Luxury vacation rentals, such as villas or beach houses

Save money and stay at one of the best villas along the way. They range from luxuriously elegant to modern and minimalist villas. Choose one that best matches your needs. The best Villas are House-Canyon, Hillsborough Estate, and Hot Tub. Directly book from owners online. Santa Cruz is a better  Californian beach town, and many of the town’s top attractions revolve around the beach. Visit Point Dune, one of the loveliest beaches in southern California, or explore the city to see beautiful homes.

Glamping options, such as luxury tents or yurts

Glamping options tend to be more expensive than motels but worth it. There are lots of cabins in Big Sur and Yurts on Cachuma Lake. The California coast is not affordable for travelers on a tight budget. 

Unique accommodations are even pricier. More so in summer when demand is high, and room inventories are low. In Big Sur, look at the Big Sur River Inn. Rustic with Adirondack chairs sitting in the Big Sur river. There are also luxury tents in Yosemite. Try the Desert Sky Escapes, a great base for hiking and rock climbing in Joshua Tree by day and relaxing in the desert at night. 

Be ready to use a shared portable bathroom and enjoy the night sky, as the yurt doesn’t have electricity. The Moon camp is ideal for a small group of people. Wonderlust Airstream has a hot tub and stock tank pool, multiple decks, a ready-to-go propane grill, an outdoor shower, and a private fire pit.

Specific Recommendations

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa 

It is located in California overlooking Monterey Bay and is highly rated in Cannery Row. It has Free public parking nearby, free internet, and a hot tub.

Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room, a bar, bicycle rental, free shuttle or taxi services, spa locker rooms, breakfast in the room, outdoor dining area, special diet menus, spa, sun deck, and many more offers. There are six room types: Ocean view, City view, Landmark view, Bridal suite, Non-smoking rooms, Suites, and Family rooms—book in advance to avoid disappointment. Rooms start from 359 per night.

Santa Barbara Inn

Rooms start from 331. To book online, try Booking.com. The location is excellent, and the room has plenty of closet and drawer space. The bedding is high quality. This hotel is a 9-minute walk from Santa Barbara Zoo and a mile from Stearns Wharf, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and an aquarium. It has a pool, hot tub, access to the beach, and breakfast.


In conclusion, there are endless options to choose from when it comes to accommodation on your way to Los Angeles. For affordable camping options, try the Malibu Creek campground. If you can spend more, you can try Boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts such as Hotel G or cabins and cottages. 

If you have all the money to spoil yourself, go for the best luxurious hotel, such as Santa Barbara Inn, where you can be cozy and drink expensive wine. Some additional resources for researching accommodations are California’s Official Travel Guide and the California Road Trips. Do not forget to share your experiences and tips for finding the perfect place to stay on a road trip between the two cities.

Leave a comment