Travel Insights: Top California Travel Destinations

RelayRides blogger Sidney Jarod shares insights from services like Trulia on the most popular vacation spots for Californians and how to save on your next trip.

California is truly a vacation paradise, and it should be no surprise—according to the tourism researchers at VisitCalifornia—that 80% of tourists in California are Californians themselves! (After all, who knows the secret wonders of the state better than the people who live there?) But where do these “in the know” vacationers go when they want to escape to a vacation home for some rest and relaxation? The fine team at real estate data service Trulia has the answers, so this weekend you can make like a Los Angeleno or a San Franciscan and get out of town!

Looking for travel ideas? Here’s where Californians like to travel as well as how to save some cash while on your trip

Lake Tahoe

Distance from San Francisco: 190-200 miles

More than one tourist on her first trip to Lake Tahoe has wondered how a place so beautiful can exist. You’ll ponder the same question in between moments of delight while boating, skiing or hiking around Lake Tahoe, the great wonder of California. No pictures can do this place justice but you’ll find that you’ll take many to try.

How to get there: It’s a long drive from San Francisco, so be sure to chose something roomy and be aware of milage limits; we think Cheryl’s Subaru Forester is a great choice. If you plan to fly into Sacramento or Reno though, you’ll find cars available like Casey’s 2010 Nissan Cube and Yusuf-Rasheed’s 2003 Ford Windstar at SMF and Jeb’s 2001 Dodge Durango at RNO.

Palm Springs Area of Riverside County

Distance from Los Angeles: 100 miles

While Californians are pretty hip to what’s green, they’re not heading to the Coachella Valley for the wind turbines that fill San Gorgonio Pass! The Palm Springs area just beyond the turbines is a long-time desert oasis and resort destination. Once the escape of Hollywood stars, Palm Springs is now a tourist mecca with lots of cultural amenities, restaurants and outdoor recreation opportunities.

How to get there: If you don’t plan to drive in from Los Angeles where you can rent great cars like Luki’s 2008 BMW 3 Series or Susanna’s 2004 Toyota 4Runner, you can still find a great car when you land at Palm Springs International.

San Bernadino/Redlands/Big Bear Lake Area of San Bernadino County

Distance from Los Angeles: 60-100 miles

Similar to Riverside County, a lot of San Bernadino County is vast desert. However, beautiful homes line the edges of the San Bernadino Mountains, and tourists flock up into the wilderness around Big Bear Lake—whether in the summer for hiking or the winter for skiing. (See our great ski trips here!)

How to get there: Again, if you’d rather fly there instead of drive in from Los Angeles, you’ll find cars like Francis’ 2008 Subaru Outback waiting for you at LA/Ontario Airport 25 miles west of Redlands.

San Luis Obispo

Distance from Los Angeles: 190 miles

Distance from San Francisco”>San Francisco: 230 miles

Set between a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains, San Luis Obispo is one of the prettiest and oldest communities in California. A former Spanish Mission town that now lies on both Highway 1 and the 101, San Luis Obispo is a cherished spot for many Californians who love the surrounding hills and beaches and the area’s quirky, laid-back culture.

How to get there: Your best bet is to drive, but you’ll need a car to match the beautiful journey along the coast. How about Krishnakumar’s 2001 Porsche Boxster in San Mateo or Matthew’s 2012 MINI Cooper Roadster in Santa Monica?

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Distance from California: 3,000 miles

We’re being sneaky here. You may not know that one of the most popular vacation home destinations for many Californians—both from SoCal and the Bay Area—is actually on the east coast! Cape Cod is home to historic and charming seaside towns; long sandy beaches; and classic beach houses within easy reach of excellent seafood restaurants. And believe it or not, but the beaches there also tend to be warmer in the summer than the beaches around the Bay Area, so Cape Cod surely seems like a great vacation escape.

How to get there: The two closest major airports to Cape Cod—Boston’s Logan Airport and T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island—are excellent pick-up locations for many great RelayRides cars like Douglas’ 2006 Porsche Cayenne in Boston.

The Journey Begins… soon as you decide to go see these vacation spots for yourself. Remember though that the vacation begins on the road before you even get there, so sign up for RelayRides and start your vacation today.