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California's Highway 1. Credit Shayan

The drive along Highway 1, which runs the length of Calfornia's coast offers captivating views. Credit: Shayan.

By Vince Font

The California coast is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It’s little wonder why more and more people are road-tripping along the west coast as their trip of choice for California vacations. I’ve taken this trip on many occasions, each time discovering something new along the way, giving me the chance to tweak my list of cheap California hotels.

SanDiego: Best Western Golden Triangle Inn
Whether you’re using San Diego as the launching pad for your coastline excursion or the splashdown point, the Best Western Golden Triangle Inn is one of those cheap California hotels that offers the basic amenities (coffee maker, clock radio, cable TV and mini-fridge) but still makes you feel like you’re getting maximum comfort for your buck. The hotel was completely renovated in 2006 and is only eight miles from Sea World and the San Diego Zoo — both must-sees if you’re planning to explore the city.

Santa Barbara: Orange Tree Inn
Driving up the coast on Highway 1, by the time you hit Santa Barbara, the scenery is so breathtaking that it’s probably a good idea to pull over to take it in. And it’s an even better idea to take up lodgings for the night. If you do, check out the Orange Tree Inn, which is within walking distance of the beach, and lies just a few blocks from the city’s historic Mission. Bonus tip: Check out the State and A Bar & Grill if your road trip’s left you with a hankering for good food, spirits and live music.Morro Bay: Morro Bay Sunset Travelodge
About another hundred miles up the coast, there’s a sleepy undiscovered beach town called Morro Bay that you may not have ever heard of. I like to think it’s what more touristy coastal areas like Carmel must have been like 50 years ago. The Morro Bay Sunset Travelodge offers comfortable lodgings that put you just a stroll away from the Embarcadero, where you’ll find tons of shops, restaurants, a small but interesting aquarium, andthe area’s most imposing draw — Morro Rock, a 600-foot volcanic plug that sits just offshore.

Seaside: Sand Castle Inn
Located about 125 miles south of San Francisco, the gorgeous coastal area surrounding Carmel and Monterey is not a place typically associated with low-rent California vacations, but the Sand Castle Inn fools me every time. Located just five miles north of Monterey in Seaside, the hotel offers two of the most important things every road traveler desires: convenience and quiet.

Crescent City: Crescent City Travelodge
By the time you’ve arrived at Crescent City near the northern tip of the California coast, you’ve probably overwhelmed your senses with the visceral beauty of nearby Redwood National Park enough to warrant some shut-eye. The Crescent City Travelodge is a small stop that offers low-price comfort without compromising aesthetics. Its proximity to Battery Point Lighthouse is a particular plus, and proved to be as idyllic a spot as any to recharge for the repeat drive back south.

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Vince Font is a freelance writer born in Puerto Rico and currently escaped to Utah. When not dreaming of interstellar travel, he’s on the hunt for weird, wacky, and off-the-beaten-track vacation destinations. Next stop: The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.

Tagged: California, Tips & advice

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