California is an explorer’s dream destination, where beautiful vistas are found around every corner. Drive along its scenic coastline to discover unforgettable adventures in some of the most beautiful destinations in the United States. But how do you choose where to roam?

We’ve traversed California’s picturesque coast, renowned wine regions and top national parks to bring you the best of The Golden State. With over 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful destinations in California and popular hotels nearby, many of which include on-site restaurants, outdoor pools and in-room perks like cosy fireplaces. 

Why You Should Visit Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park
Photo| Glacier National Park in Montana| SHUTTERSTOCK – VACLAV SEBEK

Yosemite National Park is a must-do destination in California for outdoor lovers, known for its 3,100 square kilometres of pure natural beauty. Marvel at cascading waterfalls, millennia-old Sequoia trees and unique rock formations, which create postcard-perfect vistas, especially at famous landmarks, such as Half Dome and El Capitan.

Tips for Visiting Yosemite National Park

  • Avoid visiting the park in peak summer, especially on weekends.
  • Fuel up your car before arriving, as gas stations can be difficult to find.
  • The most popular stops are Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, Mariposa Grove, Tunnel View and Tuolumne Meadows.

Best Hotels Near Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley Lodge

One kilometre from the visitor centre at Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Valley Lodge is a popular choice for families. Cosy rooms offer a variety of bed configurations, including Family Rooms with bunk beds, dining tables and coffee makers.

Swim in the seasonal outdoor pool or admire a 760-metre-tall waterfall from Mountain Room Restaurant. Alternatively, Mountain Room Lounge boasts a Swedish-style fireplace, while Base Camp Eatery has grab-and-go options.

Hotel Highlights

  • An ATM in the lobby and Tour and Activity Desk for organising excursions.
  • The hotel is the hub of transportation within the park with free bus services.
  • One kilometre from Yosemite Falls and six kilometres from the El Capitan rock formation.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 232 – USD 278
Guest Rating: 8
Address: 9006 Yosemite Lodge Drive, Yosemite Village, California, United States

The Ahwahnee

The Ahwahnee is a landmark hotel dating back to 1927, known for its dazzling views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls. Standard rooms come with Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and pillow-top mattresses, while Junior Suites add king-size beds and separate living rooms.

You can pick up souvenirs made by local artisans at the gift shop or enjoy a sugar rush at the sweet shop, then visit the intimate bar or outdoor swimming pool to relax. Don’t miss the popular Sunday Brunch in the chandeliered Dining Room.

Hotel Highlights

  • A range of charming cottages with king-size beds and fireplaces.
  • Most renowned fine dining in all of Yosemite at the Dining Room.
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 518 – USD 1,257
Guest Rating: 8
Address: 1 Ahwahnee Road, Yosemite Village, California, United States

Hotel Location

Why You Should Visit the Pacific Coast Highway

Photo| Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1)| SHUTTERSTOCK – DOUG MEEK

With stunning coastal views, seaside villages and sparkling ocean views, the Pacific Coast Highway boasts one of the most scenic drives on the planet. The legendary drive takes 10 hours, but it’s better to start at San Francisco and explore Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Santa Barbara and other memorable stops along the way. 

Tips for Visiting the Pacific Coast Highway

  • To make the most of the cliffside ocean views, drive north to south.
  • Plan your trip around late July to late October for the best chance of good weather.
  • Include some unscheduled time on your itinerary to visit small towns and state parks.

Best Hotels Near the Pacific Coast Highway

Big Sur Lodge

Photo| Big Sur Lodge | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Big Sur Lodge is located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, offering cosy cabins with cottage-style rooms. Couples will love the wood-burning fireplace in the Fireplace Cottage, while the Fireplace/Kitchenette Cottage adds a fully-equipped kitchen and furnished deck.

Relax with a glass of local California wine or craft beer on the outdoor patio of the on-site restaurant and bar or unwind at the pool. Hiking trails are found nearby, while a concierge can help with organising excursions.

Hotel Highlights

  • Most rooms include separate living rooms and furnished decks overlooking the park.
  • Standard Family Cottages with two twin-size beds, a king-size bed and queen-size sofa in the living room.
  • A 10-minute drive from Pfeiffer Beach.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 209 – USD 409
Guest Rating: 7.1
Address: 47225 Hwy One, Big Sur, California, United States

Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach

Love birds can get away from it all at Fireside Inn on Moonstone Beach in Cambria, where rooms include romantic touches, such as gas fireplaces, jetted tubs and private terraces. Travelling with the kids? The 2 Queens with Patio includes two queen-size beds, premium movie channels and a private patio.

Rest your weary muscles in the heated outdoor pool or soak in the Jacuzzi under a gazebo. Plush sun loungers and umbrellas are also available, offering stunning vistas of the lush, rolling hills.

Hotel Highlights

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 122 – USD 319
Guest Rating: 8.7
Address: 6700 Moonstone Beach Drive, Cambria, California, United States

Hotel Location

Why You Should Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Photo| Joshua Tree National Park at Sunset| SHUTTERSTOCK – ROMASLAVIK.COM

A unique blend of two desert systems, Joshua Tree National Park is an alluring destination known for its desert flora, scenic hikes and unique namesake trees. Climb up to Keys View for panoramic vistas of Mount San Jacinto and Mount Gorgonio, then try rock climbing or camp under the stars.

Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

  • Don’t forget that you’re in a massive desert. Bring water!
  • Cell reception is very limited within the park, so plan accordingly.
  • Photogenic spots include the Ryan Trail Hike, Cholla Cactus Garden and the Skull Rock area.

Best Hotels Near Joshua Tree National Park

Best Western Gardens Hotel at Joshua Tree National Park

Photo| Best Western Gardens Hotel at Joshua Tree National Park | Provided by ICE PORTAL

Best Western Gardens is a 10-minute drive from the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. Start your day with a hot breakfast buffet or swim in the outdoor pool. A covered area offers refreshing misters and barbecue facilities.

Families have their choice of kid-friendly accommodations, from the 2 Double Beds with a coffee maker, microwave and mini-fridge to the oversized 2 Queen Beds room. Meanwhile, couples can enjoy a jetted whirlpool tub in the 1 King Bed.

Hotel Highlights

  • An outdoor heated pool and Jacuzzi.
  • Complimentary breakfast with bread, cereal, fruit, eggs, juice and coffee.
  • A kitchenette, sofa bed and separate living area in the Suite-1 King Bed.

Star Rating: 2*
Price: USD 79 – USD 129
Guest Rating: 8
Address: 71487 29 Palms Highway, Twentynine Palms, California, United States

Fairfield Inn & Suites Twentynine Palms-Joshua Tree National Park

Photo| Fairfield Inn & Suites Twentynine Palms-Joshua Tree National Park | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Fairfield Inn & Suites Twentynine Palms-Joshua Tree National Park is an all-suite hotel in the Morongo Basin. There are two room options: the 1 King and 2 Queen studios with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges and separate sitting areas.

Whip up your own meal at the barbecue and picnic area or pick up on-the-go treats at the on-site convenience store. The daily breakfast is complimentary, while the legendary Joshua Tree Saloon is a short drive away.

Hotel Highlights

  • A film-friendly hotel with recommendations on photoshoot locations nearby.
  • The heated outdoor pool, barbecue area and exercise area.
  • An ideal home base for rock climbing, hiking and stargazing.

Star Rating: 2*
Price: USD 116 – USD 143
Guest Rating: 9.2
Address: 6333 Encelia Avenue, Twentynine Palms, California, United States

Hotel Location

Why You Should Visit Lake Tahoe


You’ll be taken aback by the sheer natural beauty of Lake Tahoe. It offers a peaceful place to relax with its crystal-clear waters, steep granite cliffs and snow-capped mountains. Fun is never far away at nearby casino resorts, high-end shopping boutiques and ski slopes.

Tips for Visiting Lake Tahoe

  • South Lake Tahoe is where you’ll find the majority of casino resorts, restaurants and entertainment.
  • Catch a sunset at Emerald Bay State Park, a stunning inlet home to a Viking-style castle.
  • Top ski resorts in the area include Northstar California Resort and Heavenly.

Best Hotels Near Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa & Casino

Photo| Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa & Casino | Provided by HYATT REGENCY LAKE TAHOE RESORT SPA & CASINO

Nestled into the Sierra Nevada mountains, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa & Casino boasts a scenic waterfront location. Choose from spacious rooms with pillow-top mattresses and mini-fridges or upgrade to a suite for a separate living area. Family King Suites include bunk beds, while Beach Front Cottages overlook the private beach.   

Spend your days hiking scenic trails, relaxing at the on-site spa and dining on seafood and steaks at Lone Eagle Grille, but don’t miss the on-site casino. Travelling with the family? Get a s’mores-making kit from room service and roast marshmallows together.

Hotel Highlights

  • A year-round lagoon-style pool, an on-site casino and all-day coffee shop.
  • Pub food and drinks at Cutthroat’s Saloon and lakeside views at Pier 111 Bar.
  • Three kilometres from Diamond Peak Ski Resort.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 169 – USD 612
Guest Rating: 9
Address: 111 Country Club Drive, Incline Village, Nevada, United States

Hotel Azure

Photo| Hotel Azure | Provided by ICE PORTAL

A tranquil mountain retreat, Hotel Azure sits across from the pristine shores of South Lake Tahoe. Families can admire lake views from a private balcony in the Double Queen Lake View, while Deluxe Two Bedroom Suites add full kitchens, dining areas and private balconies.

HotelsCombined visitors rave about the hotel’s on-site pool, surrounded by plush loungers, umbrellas and a Jacuzzi. Work up a sweat in the fitness centre, visit the Game Room for a round of foosball or head next door for American comfort favourites at Bear Beach Cafe.

Hotel Highlights

  • Most rooms include a private furnished balcony with Lake Tahoe views.
  • An outdoor pool and Jacuzzi.
  • Easy access to kayaking, golfing, parasailing and winter sports in Lake Tahoe.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 113 – USD 341
Guest Rating: 8.8
Address: 13300 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, California, United States

Hotel Location

Why You Should Visit Napa Valley

Napa Valley
Photo| Napa Valley Wine Country on Autumn Vineyards| SHUTETRSTOCK – MICHAEL WARWICK

One of the world’s most celebrated wine regions, Napa Valley boasts more than 400 wineries along its tiered hillsides. Resorts in this area are luxurious, featuring on-site golf courses, gourmet dining and pampering spa services.

Tips for Visiting Napa Valley

Best Hotels Near Napa Valley

Napa River Inn

Photo| Napa River Inn | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Offering luxurious waterfront accommodations in Napa Valley, Napa River Inn is housed within the 19th-century Historic Napa Mill. Spread across three buildings, rooms range from a Captain Hatt’s Suite with a fireplace, clawfoot tub and separate seating area to the Plaza Deluxe with a private balcony and river views.

Enjoy a holiday of indulgence, from fresh pastries delivered daily and evening wine tastings to the full-service day spa. Browse the gourmet market and wine shop or dine on global comfort food in the courtyard of the neighbouring Celadon restaurant.

Hotel Highlights

  • Complimentary “driver hosted” trips to town and bicycles available to borrow.
  • Massages, exfoliations, wraps and facials at the Spa at Napa River Inn.
  • A five-minute walk from Uptown Theatre.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 249 – USD 1,108
Guest Rating: 9.1
Address: 500 Main Street, Napa, California, United States

Embassy Suites Napa Valley

Photo| Embassy Suites Napa Valley | Provided by ICE PORTAL

Embassy Suites Napa Valley boasts a resort-like setting with its idyllic surroundings, which includes a rose garden, Chef’s garden and mill pond with resident swans. Spacious suites include flat-screen TVs, kitchenettes, pull-out sofas and separate living areas. For a bottle of Premium Napa Valley wine, upgrade to an Executive Suite.

Enjoy some fresh air at the year-round pool or a drink on the outdoor courtyard. Evenings can be spent at the complimentary Evening Reception or cuddling up by the fire pit. Head to Grille 29 Restaurant & Lounge for Napa Valley wines, farm-fresh cuisine and happy-hour specials

Hotel Highlights

  • Complimentary made-to-order breakfast and Evening Reception with drinks and snacks.
  • An outdoor pool, indoor pool and whirlpool.
  • A seven-minute drive from Oxbow Public Market.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 261 – USD 1,278
Guest Rating: 8.4
Address: 1075 California Boulevard, Napa, California, United States

Hotel Location

Why You Should Visit Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz
Photo| Santa Cruz Beach| SHUTTERSTOCK – DTM MEDIA

Santa Cruz is a laid-back coastal gem, where a long wharf is dotted with eateries and shops and vintage rides can be found on a lively beach boardwalk. Families will love its endless outdoor activities, as it’s situated on the northern side of Monterey Bay by beautiful redwood forested mountains and offers 46 kilometres of beaches and 14 state parks.

Tips for Visiting Santa Cruz

  • Travel on West Cliff Drive to Natural Bridges State Park to discover secluded coves and scenic overlooks.
  • Enjoy the thrill rides, games and sinful treats along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
  • Visit the Garden of Eden, a beach-lined swimming hole nestled in a redwood forest.

Best Hotels Near Santa Cruz

Dream Inn Santa Cruz

Located on Cowell Beach, Dream Inn Santa Cruz boasts a funky retro vibe. Kick back in a cabana at the outdoor pool or indulge in coastal-inspired classics at Jack O’Neill Restaurant & Lounge, then pair sunset views with signature cocktails at the poolside Shorebreak Drink + Dine.

Savour the ocean views from the private balcony in the Ocean View Deluxe or admire Monterey Bay from the Ocean View Cloud. Got the kids in tow? Upgrade to the Ocean View Infinity for two queen-size beds.

Hotel Highlights

  • A beachfront outdoor pool with sun loungers and hot tub.
  • Each room features sweeping ocean views.
  • Hot coffee and locally-baked pastries at the lobby coffee cart.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 198 – USD 540
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California, United States

Ocean Pacific Lodge

Ocean Pacific Lodge offers great value for money with its affordable rooms and prime location a short walk from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Cruz Wharf.  The pet-friendly hotel features complimentary Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool and hot tub, as well as self-parking.

Standard King rooms include personal climate control features, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges and coffee makers, while the King Hot Tub adds a Jacuzzi. Need extra space? The Deluxe King Room with two king-size beds is ideal for families and groups.

Hotel Highlights

Star Rating: 2*
Price: USD 89 – USD 359
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: 301 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, California, United States

Hotel Location

Complete Your Ultimate California Bucket List

California offers a diverse landscape of beautiful coastline, rugged mountains and turquoise lakes. These top destinations in California also boast luxury hotels, cosy lodges and casino resorts catering to every style and budget. They typically include outdoor pools, family-friendly restaurants and a variety of rooms.

Where do you want to visit in California? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Charity De Souza Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.

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