The Best Southern California Hotels for Your Vacation

By J. Michael Key
Traveling to California can be adventurous, exciting, and rewarding on many levels. Or, it can be frustrating, confusing and downright disappointing. What makes the difference between the two outcomes? One major factor is your choice of Southern California hotels!

Choose the right hotel and you will be within a reasonable driving distance of all the attractions you want to enjoy and will spend your time enjoying yourself. Choose the wrong hotel and you will be too far from all the main attractions and find yourself doing more driving than having fun. You’ll get frustrated that you paid so much money for so little convenience and enjoyment.

Don’t make the wrong choice! Here are some tips on selecting the best Southern California hotels for your big trip.

#1: Consider trimming the price by staying at hotels slightly off the main tourist areas.

If you want to jam pack every day of your vacation with heart-pumping action and exploration, then this tip won’t be for you. If you are open minded and price conscious, then listen up. You get some really great deals on hotel rooms if you stay away from the main attractions and are willing to travel around more via the expansive California freeway system.

Consider a room along State Route 91 in Fullerton or head out to Escondido or Norwalk for safe areas that aren’t so central (read: aren’t so high priced).

#2: Try to visit outside of peak travel periods.

There are certain periods of time during the year that most people take their vacations. These are obviously times when the theme parks and other big destinations in California will have higher attendance, which means all Southern California hotels will be at their highest prices. Visit outside these peak visiting times and you can get great deals. Come in the fall or spring, or even in winter after the holiday season.

#3: Consider the complimentary services offered.

Something as simple as free breakfast in the hotel can make all the difference when staying under budget and on schedule. Look for complimentary services like shuttles that can save you money and time when selecting your final hotel destination.

#4: How far from the beach do you want to be?

For some people their distance from the beach of choice can determine how happy they are with their vacation overall. If you go to California just for the beaches do your research to determine which beach you want to visit then find a hotel right on the beach. If the beach isn’t as important to you then save some money and stay a block or two away (or a mile away on a bus route).

#5: How far from the city do you want to be?

While most people think of the beaches when they go to California, you may be someone who enjoys the big city life with occasional beach relaxation. If this describes you, then finding a hotel in a larger city like Los Angeles or San Diego may be a better option. You may even want to rub elbows with the stars in Hollywood!

As a final tip in parting, consider hotels that fall in between different areas of California if you want to split your time. For example, if you want to visit San Diego but would also like to spend some time in the Los Angeles area you can stay in Carlsbad or Oceanside. The southern Orange County area such as San Clemente may be another option.

Don’t make common tourist mistakes and end up too far away from the main attractions to enjoy yourself! Sea World and Magic Mountain aren’t just a hop, skip and jump away, from one another. Do your research and choose the best Southern California hotels for your ideal trip.

Michael Key has written about a diverse range of topics for three decades, with a recent emphasis on travel issues. For more information on finding hotels in southern California visit the SoCal Vacation Guru at

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