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- According to Airbnb, California is a top trending location for vacation rentals on the site.
- Experts say Airbnb may be safer than hotels because private rentals promote social distancing.
- These Enhanced Clean Airbnbs in California are on the beach, near the desert, and in wine country.
In response to COVID-19, many travelers have made safety their top priority, choosing close-to-home driving trips as opposed to flying off to a crowded resort. If you live in or near California, you’ll know that’s no big sacrifice.
That’s because the Golden State is a stunning example of raw natural beauty, whether you seek the sprawling hills of wine country, fancy a dip along sunkissed coastal shores, crave the cultural satisfaction of city centers, or want to hike among the Redwoods.
I’m a travel and entertainment writer who has covered some of the best places to stay in California for Insider. I was raised in Los Angeles and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly a decade. Overall, I’ve explored my beloved state of California widely – by car, by foot, by plane. And because experts told me that private vacation rentals are likely safer than hotels during COVID, I’m rounding up the best Airbnb vacation rentals in California.
From Monterey to Malibu and beyond, these are some of the coolest, most unique Airbnb homes you’ll find in California.
Browse all listings below, or jump to a specific area:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Wine country
- Beaches and coasts
- National parks
- FAQ: The best Airbnbs in California
- Find more great Airbnbs
These are the best Airbnbs in California, sorted by region and price, from from low to high.
Beach home with pool and hot tub in Venice, $128
Santa Monica and Venice are among LA’s most popular and central beach areas, and lodging in the area can be pricey. But this affordable option in Venice offers a lot of value before you even consider there’s also a pool.
It’s technically a Spanish architecture pool house, but it’s totally private, and charming to boot, with room for two adults. The cozy space boasts a private outdoor bathroom, a sauna, three fire pits, a hot tub, plus loaner bikes and skateboards to hit the beach. There’s also a ping-pong table in the rec area. The laid-back California decor includes a framed map of Venice, distressed furnishings, and tile flooring.
This home is popular, so book early: There are sporadic dates still available for summer, opening into wider availability in September and through the fall.
Luxury apartment in Downtown Los Angeles, $155
This apartment is within easy striking distance of Staples Center, L.A. Live, Disney Hall, Little Tokyo — just about every sightseeing highlight of the downtown area. Free parking is a huge plus so you can come and go as you please.
The luxury apartment has a European look and feel, with fountains and columns throughout the building. There’s also a shared pool, hot tub, and fitness center (check for availability of these amenities during COVID).
Inside the apartment, furnishings are spare and minimal with a simple black loveseat, coffee table, and TV in the living space and a Queen bed in the living room. The kitchen is modern, with stainless appliances and granite countertops.
Plan ahead to stay at this popular listing: the apartment’s next availability is in October.
Private guest house in Larchmont Village, $224
Non-locals may not know about the Larchmont area, which is not a household name like Hollywood, but it’s a beautiful, bustling, central, and safe area with its own charming walkable center with shops and restaurants.
This listing is for a private, two-story guesthouse with vaulted ceilings, well-curated furnishings, and an open layout. The downstairs living area has a flat-screen HDTV with premium channels, a compact but well-equipped stainless kitchen, dining area, powder room, and French doors that open to a landscaped backyard. There’s a Queen bed in the airy master suite upstairs, which also has a reading nook, desk, and spa-like bathroom.
This listing has limited availability starting in May. July through August is almost entirely open.
Bungalow in Hollywood, $225
Hollywood and its environs are as cacophonous and congested as they are lively and exciting. But this cozy Hollywood Hills area listing will make you feel like you’ve gotten away from it all while still staying within LA’s core.
This private guest unit nestled in the hillside makes for a peaceful retreat that allows for full relaxation or full focus on work or creative projects — ideal, perhaps, for an inspiring new work-from-home situation.
There are panoramic city views from Hollywood to the Pacific Ocean from the freestanding bathtub, as well as a sunny terrace with an inviting daybed swing, and a distinctly bohemian vibe. The listing has a Queen-sized bed and 1.5 baths, so come with a loved one, or check-in solo to work on your screenplay.
This home has a few dates available in April. The calendar opens up in May, with most dates currently still available from that point forward.
Zen-like studio in San Diego, $125
Experience the sprawling city that is San Diego without feeling overwhelmed by all the urban buzz. This calming, even zen-like studio is just steps to the bay and an easy walk to the beach. It’s great for a relaxed, car-free beach getaway — even just from the city’s more congested center.
Vaulted, beamed ceilings make the space feel airy, and a skylight makes it bright and cheerful. It sleeps two with a queen bed, and there’s a small patio with a grill for cozy home-cooked meals. For the active couple, travel light and make use of the two included boogie boards and beach cruisers for outdoor fun and exercise during your stay. There’s also private off-street parking for when more than a bike is required.
The home has limited availability starting in May, opening up to wider availability after mid-June.
Oceanfront condo in San Diego, $143
This oceanfront condo is located literally steps from the Pacific — and the sea sprawls down below for a spectacular view. This Ocean Beach apartment is an ideal launch pad for a San Diego visit; abundant dining and drinking options surround it.
Decor is inspired by a coastal palette for a bright and cheerful vibe. It has a full kitchen, fans to circulate the sea breeze, a Queen bed in the bedroom, and Queen-size sofa bed for kids or additional guests. It’s located on the ground floor, so no steps are required. And there’s free street parking available (even in peak season, you’ll probably find it within a block or two away).
The home has limited availability starting in July, opening up to wider availability after October (when it’s still warm in Southern California).
Remodeled home near Golden Gate Park, $164
With its palpable tech wealth, San Francisco and the Bay Area have become one of the most expensive places in the country. But you can still visit the city without going over your budget in this lovely, and affordable Airbnb located near Golden Gate Park and the beach in the Outer Sunset.
The home is chic, bright, and sparkling. There’s a Queen-sized bed with a memory foam mattress and a cool blue headboard under a nautical whale wall hanging. The bathroom gleams in crisp white, and the elegant furnishings and living room pieces lend a sophisticated, curated feel.
This listing has some availability in April and May. Availability is currently wide open into the summer months and beyond.
Modern apartment in Haight-Ashbury, $179
This design-minded apartment in a Victorian Building near Haight-Ashbury offers quintessential San Francisco flair with views over a historic neighborhood.
Lounge in Barcelona chairs taking in the light from the bay window, or switch on a gas fire and relax against the city’s frequent chill. This Airbnb Plus listing has a gourmet gas stove, plush neutral-toned bed linens, and laundry for guests.
This listing shows wide availability starting in July.
Farmhouse cottage in Napa Valley, $150
If you’ve longed to visit wine country for winery tours and barrel tastings, plan your stay in this fully renovated farmhouse cottage located in a tranquil neighborhood on Main Street, just a mile from the downtown area. The sweet 600-square-foot space has two Queen-sized beds, a couch, and a kitchenette. This home is best for a couple or friend getaway as children under 12 are not permitted.
Here, the amount of interaction is up to the guest — a key concern in the pandemic age. Hosts can make themselves available to talk about restaurants and wineries … or make themselves scarce, leaving you to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio after a day out touring the vineyards.
This listing has limited availability beginning in April. Come summer, dates open up widely.
Relaxing and pet-friendly home in Sonoma, $155
This ideal wine country rental is within walking distance of Abbot’s Passage Winery, a three-minute drive to the town of Glen Ellen, and a 10-minute drive to Sonoma Square.
The three-bedroom home has a large backyard with a bocce ball court and a Chinese Elm tree for shade. There’s room for a large group or family, with King bed in the master bedroom and Queen beds in each of the other two bedrooms, plus a Queen-size sofa bed in the family room.
There’s also a well-equipped kitchen and a gas barbecue in the yard. There are two full bathrooms plus a washer-dryer on site for guest use. A 56-inch smart TV in the family room comes with hundreds of movies, and there’s a library well stocked with books for the analog types.
This popular listing has availability starting in November, so book ahead.
Cliffside cabin in Trinidad Bluffs, $168
Southern California’s beaches may be better known throughout the world, but high up in Northern California are more remote, rugged, and spectacular stretches of beaches and coastlines where you will find crowd-free tranquility and cooler air year-round. This cabin in Trinidad is located at the edge of the bluff above the sea, with full 180-degree ocean views. It has easy access to redwoods, beaches, lagoons, hiking, boating, and many more activities in the natural environment.
The rustic cabin is set up like a studio, with wooden walls and flooring. Inside is a fireplace, a basic kitchen, and sliding doors that open to a deck with chairs for admiring those views.
This popular listing has sporadic dates available throughout the spring and summer, opening up to wider availability in the fall.
Secluded retreat in Santa Barbara, $206
Take a romantic coastal drive to the Santa Barbara area and settle into this 717-square-foot ultra-posh Montecito retreat. It has a Queen-sized bed, a big living room with sleeper sofa, fireplace and kitchenette, private guest’s laundry room, and even a bathroom with steam.
The home is located on the bottom floor of the host’s tri-level home with a separate entrance at the side yard, but it feels quite private. A seasonal creek surrounds the large wraparound wooden deck, fully ensconcing you in nature, and the home offers easy access to great nearby hiking trails, and beautiful Butterfly Beach is a five-minute drive away.
This listing has extremely limited dates available this spring, with availability opening up more widely in June.
Scenic mountain home near Big Sur, $379
The coastline around Big Sur is the stuff of screen savers, and the cliffs make for an awe-inspiring if harrowing road trip. Here, it’s all about the stunning views and the raw natural environment, and this rental lets you take savor both in serenity and privacy. View tons of stars at night, hear the birds sing, and watch the red-tailed hawks circling above.
Arrive via a private paved and gated driveway to this home with a full 365-degree view of redwoods and oak ridges; it enjoys full sun all day long. The listing is just right for a solo traveler or a couple with two bedrooms, each with a Queen-sized bed. There are also lawn chairs, an outdoor fireplace, and a distinctly indoor-outdoor vibe.
Available dates for booking this home begin in late June.
Stardust Oasis guest house in Palm Springs, $182
A visit to Palm Springs is all about the midcentury modern lodging, and this tricked-out guest house fits the bill perfectly with ’60s-style curated furnishings and a palette of the era including turquoise, yellow, and olive green.
This LGBTQ-owned and operated, 270-square-foot listing is set up like a hotel room with a private entrance, patio, fire pit and lounge area, outdoor shower, and small kitchenette (no stove) — all private. It’s just right for couples or solo travelers but no kids are allowed.
You’ll get DirecTV on a 55-inch 4K Samsung, an open closet with drawers to unpack, and a bathroom with a large rainfall shower. The King-size bed has a memory foam mattress for great sleep quality.
This listing’s next availability is in June, opening up to wider availability in July through September.
Midcentury home in Palm Springs, $304
Palm Springs is an easy road trip from Los Angeles — just about 100 miles from Downtown. And for the full Palm Springs getaway experience, you’re going to want to rent a home in the vibrant midcentury modern style for which the town is famous.
This two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is in the desirable Ruth Hardy Park/Movie Colony East neighborhood, with views of the dramatic San Jacinto mountains, and room for four adults. An additional two children can fit in the foldout sofa in the living room.
The entertainment setup includes Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming channels. But you’ll probably spend most of your time outdoors in the sleek saltwater pool, spa, and lounging area.
This listing’s next availability is in July. From there, it remains wide open through Thanksgiving.
Tiny house in Yosemite, $107
When visiting Yosemite National Park, the goal should be to spend as much time absorbing wide-open nature and the jaw-dropping beauty of famed peaks like Half Dome and El Capitan as possible — not cooped up in your lodging.
That’s why a tiny house is a perfect complement to such a trip. This one is located just about 30 minutes from the park entrance and is also a great launchpad to explore Bass Lake. And, there are llamas to boot.
With this listing, you’ll receive access to the whole tiny house, which includes a bathroom with a hot shower, flushing toilet, and a sink. The downstairs bedroom has a Queen-sized bed in a room done up in cozy farmhouse style that feels wholly welcoming despite the diminutive size. Plus, you can feel good about booking here: 15 percent of the proceeds from this listing will support three charities: Thistle Farms, Equal Justice Initiative, and Charity Waters.
This home has limited availability for dates in June.
Guest house near Sequoia National Park, $165
This beguiling and tranquil cabin is situated on the way to the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, with lodging and a fenced garden that overlooks spectacular scenery such as Moro Rock, Alta Peak, Great Western Divide, and Eagle Rock, plus horses and wildlife.
This place isn’t suitable for kids, but there’s a King bed as well as a sofa bed for sleeping. Furnishings are rustic and cozy with abundant windows that showcase the dazzling natural environment. The place has central heat and air for year-round appeal, and if you’re thinking about a work-cation, consider that cell service is spotty.
This listing has limited dates still available for May and June. The calendar opens up more widely in July, when the parks are expected to re-open.
Minimalist home in Joshua Tree, $298
Admire and adventure through the wide-open spaces of Joshua Tree National Park with this home, located minutes from the park entrance and walking distance to the village. The idea here is to feel lost amid nature; it’s called the Lost House after all.
The two-bedroom, one-bath home is designed in a minimalist, industrial style. There’s a hot tub for soaking after hikes, and a covered patio for watching sunrises, sunsets, and oh-so-many stars. A hammock triangle in the back allows three to lounge together and the backyard also features a shade structure, seven-person outdoor couch, and coal barbecue. Bluetooth speakers, a record player, and various analog games like horseshoes and Frisbee will help keep you busy while remaining unplugged.
This home has no availability until May. After that, the calendar is open.
FAQ: The best Airbnbs in California
Where should I vacation in California?
Where you visit in California entirely depends on your personal style, taste, and budget. Los Angeles is known the world over for its entertainment industry attractions in Hollywood and beyond; it’s also a multicultural dining and arts haven.
Southern California is home to family-friendly theme parks including Disneyland (Anaheim) and Legoland (Carlsbad). The San Francisco Bay Area is home to stunning bridges, parks, and cultural attractions.
World-class national parks throughout the state include Yosemite and Joshua Tree. Wine countries dot the central state (Paso Robles, San Louis Obispo) and, more famously, farther north (Napa, Sonoma). Spectacular beaches and coastlines span the length of the state — more than 800 miles.
What cities in California are the most popular Airbnb locations?
As noted above, expect to find many attractive Airbnbs around some of the most desirable attractions. In the north, this might include wine country in Napa and Sonoma, the mountains of Yosemite and Tahoe, or areas around cities such as San Francisco and San Jose.
Follow the coast down to places like Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and Santa Barbara. Near Los Angeles, popular rentals can be found throughout Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Hollywood. Venture into the desert and a wide variety of rentals await in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. Or head down to Baja and explore the San Diego area.
How much does Airbnb cost in California?
Costs for vacation home rentals in California span the full gamut, from ultra-budget friendly to over-the-top celebrity-style spending. The cost will depend on factors such as house size, proximity to the beach, real estate prices in the area, added amenities such as a pool, and the time of year you plan to visit. Although, this last factor is less significant in California than it would be in some other destinations less known for year-round sunshine.
Expect to spend a few hundred dollars on a weekend getaway, and around a thousand for a week-long vacation, though, those figures will rise based on the above factors.
What should I look for in an Airbnb?
Of course, you’ll need an Airbnb that suits your party’s size, ages, and requirements for price and location. But you should also consider factors such as the ones we take into account when compiling our recommendations for readers. This includes positive recent reviews, Superhost status, participation in the COVID-era Enhanced Clean program, and amenities.
What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?
Cancellation policies on Airbnb are set by each individual host and vary from listing to listing. For a more detailed summary of Airbnb’s cancellation policies, click here.
How do I book a vacation rental in California on Airbnb?
Filter your home search based on location, price, dates of stay, the number of bedrooms, amenities, pet-friendliness, and other qualities and features. When you find a listing you like, check its cancellation policies (as noted above) and the final price including fees.
For more info on how to book an Airbnb, click here.
Is it safe to stay in an Airbnb during COVID?
The CDC now says fully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US.
Additionally, experts say that private Airbnbs are safe, and can be a reassuring lodging option compared to hotels amid the pandemic. That’s because these stays minimize interactions with other guests and staff.
Airbnb also recently released data underscoring these travel trends. They showed nearly half of 2,200 adult survey respondents in the US prefer their trips to be within 200 miles from home.
Plus, Airbnb hosts are required to follow enhanced cleaning procedures. That said, there remains an inherent risk to traveling and we recommend following CDC guidelines, practicing social distancing, masking, and washing hands frequently whenever you travel.
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