Most Desirable Vacation Home Locations In California

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California has it all. Endless stretches of beautiful coastline, majestic forests and mountains, some of the most unique deserts you’ll ever see, and tons of eclectic neighborhoods. If you are in the market to purchase a vacation home, there are many areas to choose from that the process can be overwhelming. Even though California has a reputation for being expensive, there are still some areas where you can find a bargain home. Other places have all the glitz and glam you can imagine and the price point to go along with it. Regardless of if you want a home to escape reality or desire to be in the middle of everything, there is something for everyone in California. 

With that said, we have put together a list of some highly desirable areas to help narrow down a location for your vacation home in California. 

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

Suppose you’re familiar with Palm Springs and the surrounding area. In that case, you know that it has quickly become one of California’s most desirable areas. With that desirability comes a very high price tag. If you’re looking for an area that is still affordable, has plenty of things to do, and is likely to see a price increase in the years to come, you should consider Joshua Tree.  

Joshua Tree is a vibrant community full of artists and outdoor enthusiasts and has become the backdrop for many photos. It is a beautifully unique desert with rocks and the namesake Joshua Tree exclusive to the area. You can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and the “funky downtown,” which has worked hard to out large supermarkets and fast-food restaurant chains. The area is one of a kind. 

Vacation homes for sale in Joshua Tree are much more affordable than other nearby cities like Palm Springs or Desert Hot Springs. You can buy a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house for around $350,000. Most homes are on larger-sized lots than you would find in other Southern California cities.  

If you’re hoping to rent a place short term, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of vacation homes with a pool in Joshua Tree. This is a must-have since the average temperature during the summer months is about 98 degrees. 

Joshua Tree is an excellent place to buy a vacation home of your own or one that you plan to rent out as the area is growing in popularity. 

Experts expect home values to increase by 6.5% in the next two years.  


There are 375 wineries in Napa and the surrounding area, but Napa has more to offer than its world-class wineries. There are also art galleries, golf courses, dozens of cultural events, beautiful scenery, and the food scene is to die for. You would never run out of things to do!

Real estate in Napa is on the pricier side and has seen a 22% price increase last year. The median home value is $792,500, and homes sell quickly. Napa is an excellent choice for investors and second homeowners because the area is still growing, and values are expected to continue to climb. 

Napa feels like a world away from the busy cities nearby and can be an excellent choice for those looking for a place to relax and unwind. 

Big Bear Lake

When most people think of Southern California, a sleepy mountain area does not come to mind. Big Bear Lake is a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, and it seems like you’re on a different planet. The weather is cool and crisp even in the summer. Still, the town actually has four distinct seasons, unlike most of Southern California. The lake itself is 73,000 acres and is a trendy spot for fishing. The mountains offer great skiing in the winter months, and the town is highly family-friendly. Big Bear Lake would make for a perfect weekend vacation home for full-time Southern California residents. 

Big Bear Lake has some of the most affordable homes in Southern California. Even though values appreciated close to 40% last year, the median home price is $568,000 and is expected to continue to climb. Short-term vacation rentals in the area also do very well, so if you find you cannot use your mountain home as much as you’d like, you can always go that route and make some extra money. Overall, Big Bear Lake is a fantastic spot for a vacation home in Southern California. 

Beach Cities

Southern California beach cities have always been highly desirable as there is so much to do in the area. The weather is fantastic for most of the year. It is not unusual to enjoy a day laying out in the sand during months when other parts have to shovel snow. Some of the most sought-after cities are Dana Point, Huntington Beach, and Santa Monica. Each has an entirely different vibe and makes for great locations to buy vacation homes in California.

Santa Monica is closer to Los Angeles, so if you’re into the busy city life with the upscale, modern amenities, then this would be an excellent choice for you. Huntington Beach is a more laid-back surfer town with lots of bars and restaurants. Dana Point is more upscale with beautiful architecture and a more serene feel. Dana Point and Huntington Beach are also close to Disneyland, making them great locations for a vacation rental home that will get traffic year-round. 

Buying a vacation home in any of the Southern California Beach cities is going to cost you. The median home price in Dana Point is $1,350,000. Santa Monica’s is $1,750,000. Huntington Beach is one of the least beach cities with a median home price of $965,000. Basically, suppose you want to buy a vacation home near the beach. In that case, you will likely end up spending over a million dollars. The homes can be spectacular, though, and worth every penny. 

The good news is, these areas are always in demand. Living or staying in a vacation home near California Beach is a dream for many people. When the time comes to sell or rent out your vacation home, you will have no issue finding a buyer.  

Lake Tahoe

Tahoe welcomes about 2.7 million vacationers each year and is an incredible place to own a vacation home. The scenery in Lake Tahoe is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The lake itself has clear blue water and is the perfect place to go skiing, fishing, kayaking, or just to splash around in the cool water. The surrounding area has tons to offer like golfing, high-end shopping, restaurants, and even some casinos on the Nevada side of the lake. Nearby you have mountains for skiing and snowboarding, as well as a short day trip to the El Dorado wine country. 

Lake Tahoe is split into a north and a south area, with most of the housing accommodations being in South Lake Tahoe. According to the multiple listing service, single-family homes in South Lake Tahoe have a price point for just about everyone. The least expensive home for sale is $429,000 for a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house that could use a minor fixing up which could make for a fun project. The most expensive home for sale in South Lake Tahoe is a majestic estate with 7,4000 square feet and 6 bedrooms located right on the lake. It’s listed just under 16 million dollars. There are plenty of options between the two price points. It really just depends on what you are looking for. 

There is truly something for everyone in Lake Tahoe. It would be a fantastic place to buy or rent a vacation home guaranteed to make tons of memories. 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the amount of vacation home sales in the last year is the highest since 2006 and made up 13% of all real estate transactions. With interest rates being as low as they are, there may never be a better opportunity to buy a vacation home in California than right now. So what are you waiting for?

If you’d like more information about any of the areas listed above or have another California city in mind, contact us and we will be glad to help.  

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