Hipmunk Hotels: The Wonders of Napa Valley, Bakersfield, and More

I took California way too fast on my recent trip. Here are just a few of the cities that I wish I’d taken the time to explore while making my way up the coastline.

Beverly Hills

When I stop by Beverly Hills, I’ll feel obligated to stay in a luxurious hotel like the The Mosaic. This isn’t the norm for me, but I figure the 90210 region is all about adding a splash of indulgence. Of course, it’s also about the city’s famous architecture, its history with various art and film movements, and its beautiful parks and gardens.

Napa Valley

I drove through California’s wine country on my way from San Francisco to Reno, but despite the many signs enticing me to enjoy a local wine tasting, I chose to decline. Alas, the things you don’t do on travel can eat away at you. Now, I will have to go back, grab a Napa Valley hotel, and enjoy as many wine-themed activities as possible. Winery tours? Of course. Local wine tastings? Absolutely. A trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train? How could I possibly decline?

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake is a great waypoint between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so it’s the ideal spot to grab a comfortable hotel during a long trip. That’s not to say Big Bear Lake isn’t a great destination in and of itself. It offers plentiful opportunities to get in touch with nature; beyond the lake, there’s Bear Creek, Holcomb Valley, Bear Mountain, and much more.


Driving in Los Angeles was a disaster for me, and I’m hoping to avoid the worst of it in the future by staying just outside the city. Of course, I’ll want to find a place I’ll enjoy on its own merits, so a cozy Burbank hotel is just right for me. Specifically, I hope to explore some of the fascinating museums in the city, like the Martial Arts History and the Travel Town Museum. And when I finally decide to check out the Hollywood sign, it’s just a 20-minute drive to get to L.A.


This last trip, I went straight up the coast on my way from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It was incredibly scenic, but next time I’m going to dodge the expensive coastal cities and grab a hotel in Bakersfield en route to the Bay Area instead. Why Bakersfield? Well, for me, it’s the draw of the California Living Museum, the Buena Vista Natural History Museum, and the Bakersfield Museum of Art—but if you’re a country music fan, the Buck Owens Crystal Palace gives you all the reason you’ll need for a visit.

While I don’t know how soon I’ll be getting back to the west coast, I know it’s surprisingly high on the list. Cities like those I discuss here combine with the constant draw of the ocean to make California seem like the perfect place to return to again and again. But what about you? Where’s the next place on your list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.