Budget-Friendly Getaways From the Bay Area

Jul 14, 2017

Smiling girl wearing sunglasses and posing in front of Bixby Bridge at Big SurNow that summer is in full swing, are you scrambling to plan an escape to a travel destination that is fun, affordable and within driving distance of your home? We’ve selected five top vacation spots to put on your list of places to consider this season. While iconic getaways like Lake Tahoe and Napa remain ever-popular, we think you’ll find plenty of reasons to include these on your “wanderlist” as well:

Lassen Volcanic National Park: About a 3.5 hour drive from San Francisco, Lassen is known for its clear mountain lakes, wildflower-strewn meadows, bubbling hydrothermal mudpots and much more. Quieter and more secluded than Lake Tahoe, recreational opportunities abound here. It’s an ideal location for swimming, boating, fishing, and, of course, hiking to the peak of Mount Lassen, where you’ll be rewarded with a spectacular view of the wilderness. Enjoy picnicking at Juniper Lake, and get out on Lake Almanor, where you’ll find the water much warmer than that of Lake Tahoe. The park has eight campgrounds, or if you prefer, look into deals to be found at Drakesbad Guest Ranch or Mill Creek Resort

Big Sur: With it unrivaled natural scenery and world-class restaurants, this seaside escape is one not to miss. Roughly a three hour drive from San Francisco, its magnificent coastline features towering cliffs and gorgeous blue Pacific Ocean. The area is a wonderful place to hike with its abundance of tall redwoods and waterfalls. Although portions of Big Sur’s coastline have been temporarily interrupted by this year’s winter storms, the majority of businesses remain open. And thankfully, detours offer their own allure with attractions such as the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. Find information on navigating Highway 1 closures here.

Paso Robles: A wonderful alternative to a getaway in Napa Valley, Paso Robles offers more than 200 wineries along with unique attractions including natural thermal mineral springs. What’s more, you’ll find plenty of budget-friendly accommodations in the area.  While visiting, stop in at BarrelHouse Brewing Co. where you can relax in the half-acre beer garden with a waterfall. Also sample award-winning wines at the tasting room at Bianchi Winery, situated next to a large koi pond and designed for an exquisite sensory experience with architecture blending modern elements such as glass and contemporary lighting with earthen materials like wood, stone and metal.

San Luis Obispo: After spending any length of time in this Central Coast city, you’ll quickly get a sense of why it has become known as one of the “happiest places on earth.” Home to the whimsically-themed Madonna Inn and a short drive from Hearst Castle, it has beautiful beaches, great restaurants and a lively downtown scene with a dozen or so craft breweries. Mixed in with its relaxed, small-town-like charm, you’ll also get a thriving art and culture scene with plenty of galleries and museums. Also consider checking out the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, and/or hiking Bishop’s Peak. For comfortable accommodations at a reasonable price, check out the Rose Garden Inn.

Grass Valley: Located in the heart of the California Gold Rush region in the Sierra Foothills, Grass Valley is also known for its flourishing wine making industry. You can find several wine tasting rooms located right in its historic downtown. While in town, also be sure to stop at the landmark Holbrooke Hotel for a drink or to hear live music. At the Empire Mine State Historic Park, tour original mining operations and find miles of scenic trails for horseback riding, biking, dog walking, hiking and picnicking. To complete the Wild West experience, eat at The Willo, a roadhouse in Nevada City where you watch your meal being cooked by an expert grill master or cook it yourself just how you like it.

Before you fuel up your car and stock up on snacks for your trip, remember that you can earn double points with your SFPCU Platinum Visa* from now until August 31, 2017 on all gas and grocery purchases. Enroll in the CURewards Program now if you haven’t already – and start racking up points that can be redeemed for cash back, more travel, gift cards, merchandise and more. Don’t have your SFPCU Platinum Visa yet? For a limited time, SFPCU is offering six months 0 % APR* on purchases and balance transfers for new cardholders. Find details and restrictions at http://bit.ly/GetYourSFPCUPlatimumVisa.


  • Accessibility
  • Federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration
  • Equal Housing Opportunity
  • NMLS ID# 409710

APR = "Annual Percentage Rate". Actual APR is based on your credit profile and may be higher than the lowest rate available. Posted rates may include promotional discounts and other terms and conditions. APY = "Annual Percentage Yield". Rates are subject to change without notice.

SFPCU proudly provides banking and loan solutions including checking accounts, credit cards, auto loans and more for police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders and law enforcement and their families in the Bay Area and beyond. Visit us at one of our branches in San Francisco, Pleasanton, San Mateo or Oakland, CA or check if you are eligible for membership and apply online today.

Site Design by ZAG Interactive. © 2016 SFPCU.