Hostels in California Offer Cheaper Travel and Primo Locations


Prime beach locations at California hostels range from the beachfront Banana Bungalow in San Diego (pictured) to Hermosa Beach, L.A., Sausalito and San Francisco. You’ll also find hostels in mountain resorts and college towns.

Though even the hostel business hit a down-turn when the U.S. enacted new laws about the length of time international travelers can stay in our country, there are hostels still providing cheap travel, and to fill in the gap, some hoteliers in the budget range have also signed onto the concept of offering cheaper rates with shared bathrooms in some of their hotel rooms–just to keep the income coming in. Starting around $20 night, it is possible to travel and stay in California, making the price attractive to even residents. Accommodations nearby at traditional hotels are seldom less than $100 per night and usually cost much more!

While traditional hostels participating in an international hostel concept have rules requiring guests to be students or from a different country, those rules have loosened in many lodgings and California travelers can participate and book rooms at some of the hostel listings throughout California, as well.

I stayed in hostels in Europe when I was a student, but didn’t particularly enjoy them. It’s something you do so you can travel and see places without the huge expense. Some travelers like to stick around a city and they stay in hostels up to a month. They establish friendships on the road and compare notes, while others check in for the night, then out again. If you get a snorer in your room or an odd duck, you just have to bring ear plugs and ignore it. This is not the type of travel recommended for the finicky person. Definitely not!

More recently, I had a friend who owned a hostel in a California beach town. For a time, I even built and maintained her website. However, her business became more challenging after 911 and her profits sank so she ended up selling her 100-year old beach hotel saying it was time to get out. She was part of a trend that saw several other known hostels shutter their doors, as well. Thousands of surfers and student travelers from around the globe miss their “home” away from home and have had to find other beach cities with hostels to visit. Their options include Santa Cruz, Pismo Beach, Pescadero, San Diego and Monterey–not too shabby!

Booking a hostel room: has been around a long time and has put together a booking tool that includes some non-hostel, cheap accommodations in California. However, you can look at their lodgings list, find a place you like, and contact that hostel direct. It’s an approach I would take so I could ask important questions about the rules and who stays there. Most hotels are vetted but not all. You may even save a few dollars more when you speak to a live person at the property.

California Cities with Hostels

  • Anaheim
  • Bakersfield
  • Barstow
  • Berkeley
  • Dixon
  • Escondido
  • Fort Bragg
  • Fullerton
  • Grass Valley
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • La Mesa
  • Lake Tahoe
  • Lodi
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles
  • Mariposa
  • Martinez
  • Merced
  • Mojave
  • Montara
  • Monterey
  • Oakland
  • Oceanside
  • Palm Springs
  • Pescadero
  • Pismo Beach
  • Rancho Cordova
  • Redwood City
  • Rocklin
  • Roseville
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Rosa
  • Sausalito
  • South Lake Tahoe
  • Stockton
  • Sunnyvale
  • Vacaville
  • Whittier
  • Yosemite
  • Yuba City


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