Hipmunk Hotels: Off-the-Beaten-Path California Cities to Visit including Ventura, Big Bear Lake, Fresno, and More


If you are planning a trip to California, there is no doubt that you already have a list of all the big cities you want to visit. You can’t miss spending a few days in Los Angeles, snapping a selfie at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or channeling your inner child at Disneyland in Anaheim. But will you get a chance to explore more off the beaten track destinations?

There is no better way to get away from the crowds and get the feel for real California than by choosing to explore some of these lesser-known destinations.

Ventura, Southern California

Ventura is a small beach town in Southern California, known for great surfing conditions and its most recognizable landmark, the “Two Trees,” that are visible from most of Ventura. The town retains a bit of old charm but has plenty of modern entertainment options as well. Stay close to Downtown Ventura at a hotel like the Clocktower Inn and you’ll be in the heart of the action. Here you’ll find lots of museums, galleries, dining, and shopping options right along Main Street.

Big Bear Lake, Southern California

Big Bear Lake is unique mountain resort community located 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles in Southern California. The town is surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest and makes for a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts. If you are visiting in the summer, you can spend your days fishing, hiking, and mountain biking, while those visiting in the winter can enjoy an array of winter activities. There are a few options for affordable accommodation in Big Bear Lake, like the Bear Creek Resort with daily rates starting at just $109.

Big Bear Lake, California. Photo by Sabrina Garcia via Trover.com

Big Bear Lake, California. Photo by Sabrina Garcia via Trover.com

Fresno, San Joaquin Valley 

Fresno is a city of approximately 500,000 residents in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It’s the fifth-largest city in California and one that acts as a frequent stopping point for travelers en route to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks, and other destinations in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Woodward Park, Fresno, CA Photo by Ravneet Singh via Trover.com

Woodward Park, Fresno, CA Photo by Ravneet Singh via Trover.com

In the summer, particularly the months of June and July, Fresno is buzzing with festivals and events, so booking accommodation ahead of time is definitely recommended. To get the most of the action, you’ll want to base yourself in a hotel like the Radisson in Downtown Fresno.

Bakersfield, San Joaquin Valley 

Bakersfield, a city in San Joaquin Valley of California, is one of the fastest growing medium size cities in the US, but despite the growth, it’s not really a tourist destination. Visitors come to Bakersfield for business or to visit what some call the “country music capital of the West Coast.” If you are a country music fan, then base yourself close to downtown Bakersfield, at a hotel like Days Inn and head over to the well-known joints like Sandrini’s or Riley’s and The Padre for a daily fix of live music.

South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County

South Lake Tahoe, CA. Photo by Alex Sam via Trover.com

South Lake Tahoe, CA. Photo by Alex Sam via Trover.com

South Lake Tahoe is a city near Lake Tahoe, the largest Alpine Lake in America, located on the border of California and Nevada. Lake Tahoe is an excellent location all year road. It is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders during the winter, and it offers a wealth of beach activities in the summer.  It’s a small town with just 24,000 permanent residents, but one that offers lots of accommodation options for visitors. Whether you choose to visit in the summer or in the winter, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel is one of the best hotel choices in town.