How to Spend a Perfect Staycation in California
From dolphin-spotting to desert exploration, here’s how to spend a staycation California style.
If you’re holidaying at home, there’s no better place to do so than California. It may be a cliché, but this US state really does have something for everyone; here, dense forests, wild deserts, starry cities and gorgeous coastlines (not to mention equally gorgeous holiday homes, chosen by yours truly) are never more than a day’s drive away. So put away your passport and let our travel experts at Plum Guide help you figure out how to spend a staycation in California.
Tap into your creative side at the Joshua Tree National Park
They say everyone has a masterpiece in them; put aside all questions of who exactly they might be and get cracking on your own work of art. From the glittering hills of Hollywood to the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, California has no end of places which spark the imagination but if you ask us, nowhere tops the wilds of Joshua Tree National Park when it comes to bringing that artistic vision to life. The alien landscape of unique rock formations and twisted trees leaves plenty of room for your imagination to roam, and a stay in this beautiful home will give you a helping hand – this desert abode is supplied with art materials and a spacious studio. So if you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint or write that novel, now’s your chance. Not the artsy type? We still think Joshua Tree is a great place to spend a staycation in California; the park itself is filled with beautiful walking trails (and driving routes, if you’re lazy) and the surrounding towns are well worth exploring. Stop in Yucca Valley for vintage treasure hunting, share a shake at beloved diner Pappy & Harriet’s, and indulge in modern American cuisine in the equally modern surroundings of minimalist farm-to-table restaurant La Copine.
Soak up some sun on the Malibu coast
If you’ve thought for longer than a second about how to spend a staycation in California, you’ll have thought of Malibu. In the words of California Gurl herself (Katy Perry, of course) nothing comes close to the Golden Coast and to be honest, we’re a bit jealous that you have it right on your doorstep. If you’re the type to get starstruck, start practising your poker face now, as this beachy town has long since been the celebrity resort of choice for those looking to escape from the bright lights of Hollywood. As befits a hideaway of the rich and famous, there’s plenty of sophisticated dining to be found here; indulge in a lobster roll or fish tacos at the contemporary Malibu Farm restaurant overlooking the ocean, grab a health kick in the form of an organic juice at Malibu favourite Sunlife Organics, and stop at Cornell Winery to taste and take home some of Cali’s best wines. But Plum, we hear you cry, what I’m really here for is the beach. Fortunately for you, we’ve also got plenty of opinions on the best sandy coves to explore. If you’ve ever seen a postcard of Malibu, you’ll recognise Surfrider Beach – though it can get a little crowded, it’s still a good place to artfully ride the waves (or, let’s be real, fall off your surfboard on the first try and spend the rest of the afternoon watching the pros). For a day lounging on the sand, try the quieter and more secluded Escondido, and it’s always worth a walk along the beautiful El Matador to explore rocky archways. But if you ask us, we’d really splash out on our California staycation with a stay in this Plum home with multiple balconies directly overlooking the beach – keep your eye out for dolphins leaping from the surf as the sun sets.
Enjoy a different type of star-gazing in Los Angeles
What can we say about LA that hasn’t already been said? If you’re craving the glam of Old Hollywood, Americana kitsch, or the glitz of the modern city, this is the perfect answer to the burning question of how to spend a staycation in California. For a restful stay, we suggest taking a step back from the main city and following the celebs to the hills. (Not literally, please – a perfect California staycation should not involve a stalking charge). This beautifully retro home is right up our street (well, it would be - we chose it), and even has a view of the iconic Hollywood sign that’ll make your friends as green as the tiled fireplace.
Take to the water at Lake Tahoe
The perfect staycation, California style, can’t just include the star-studded streets of Hollywood or the juice bars of Malibu. To really appreciate the unique character of this state, you have to head to greener pastures – well, it’s not technically pasture, but the forests surrounding Lake Tahoe are definitely green. There’s nothing like waking up (perhaps in this secluded Plum home?) and breathing in the scent of pine with your morning coffee as you decide what to do with your day. Trek through the trees at Emerald Bay State Park, brave the open waters with a kayak, and win brownie points with a booking at the romantic, rustic Cafe Fiore (there’s only seven tables and their contemporary Italian cuisine is incredibly good so do not, under any circumstances, turn up without a reservation). It may be touristy, but a ride on the Heavenly Gondola cable car is basically mandatory; the panoramic views over the waters and valleys provide endless photo ops, though you might be looking at them through your fingers if you’re not a fan of heights. The lake straddles the state lines between California and Nevada, so you’ll have to stick to the south side for it to be a strictly Cali getaway – though if you stray across the border for a trip to the casino, who’s to know?