It’s great to escape the daily grind and get away from it all. These days though, it’s tough not knowing how safe you can be. A lot of people are stuck and are planning for their next trip. Part of planning is coming up with a budget.
Vacations don’t have to break your bank account. When you’re traveling to a more expensive part of the country like the west coast, it’s even more important to plan accordingly. What’s great is there are lots of places, like Sonoma County, have plenty of fun and unique attractions that are very affordable and even FREE! All you need to bring is your sense of adventure and your camera. (Trust us: you’ll want to take lots of pictures.)
Here are a few tips.
1. Make the Journey Part of the Destination
Whole the airport takes you to the heart of Sonoma County, you can actually use this as an entry point to explore the rest of California by car. Highway 1, the official state road, is one of America’s longest and most breathtaking coastlines. Roll down the windows and breathe in the ocean breeze, and stretch your legs on the golden beaches. With just a map and a tank full of gas, you can arrange an itinerary that includes museums, nature reserves, wine tours, farm trails, and swimming!
2. Enjoy the Free View
The best attractions in Sonoma County are don’t even cost a penny! You can go hiking on Pt Reyes, one of the country’s most popular wilderness reserves. The 140 miles of trails wind through trees that are several centuries old, and into diverse terrain like pasture lands, forests, and meadowlands.
You can also visit Armstrong Woods, which boasts of the country’s oldest and tallest redwoods, and a well-equipped picnic area. (With this kind of view, homemade sandwiches and fruit juices taste better than any gourmet meal at a fancy five-star restaurant.)
Other free Sonoma County attractions are the animal watching at Bodega Bay. It’s like Sea World but without the entrance tickets or overpriced merchandising just places of vigil where you and your family can watch for rare birds or observe families of whales playing in the cool waters.
3. Eat Where the Locals Eat
Trendy restaurants can be tourist traps. While you’ll probably want to try one or two well-known, highly recommended places, spend the rest of your food budget at cheap but nourishing restaurants that’s well frequented by the locals. You can find these local gems by picking up the local paper and checking out the latest review. You can also look up what the locals love by logging into places like Yelp! or Trip Advisor. (Of course, you’ll probably want to avoid the rush by having an early lunch and dinner.)
4. Don’t Fall into the Merchandising Trap
California has a thriving arts community, with handmade local crafts that are unique, memorable, and beautiful. So instead of buying tons of cheap, useless souvenirs (how many refrigerator magnets do you need, anyway?) invest in one piece that will bring back happy memories of the beautiful, sun-drenched vineyards and forest reserves of Sonoma County.
5. Stick to Your Budget
Before you even step foot on the plane, have a clear idea of your budget per day of your trip. You can do this by researching on the attractions in the area, and what you can expect to spend on entrance tickets, transportation, shopping, etc. For example, you can visit the website of the Sonoma County Airport for more information on the different sites and tours.
Enjoy your stay in California!