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Ask The Expert: Spring Break Staycations Around The Bay

Bay Area college students hoping to get away this year during spring break realize that it isn't always practical to spend more money than they can afford on a vacation. Luckily, there are many locations within a three-hour drive of San Francisco that can be the perfect staycation for spring break and not break the bank. The following five locations have been recommended by two San Francisco-based travel experts, Kirk Dalrymple and Holly Huebel, who have over 60 years of combined experience in the travel industry.

Kirk Dalrymple
Yankee Clipper Travel
703 Market St., Suite 251
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 356-2260

Kirk is the owner of Yankee Clipper Travel and has been in business for over 20 years. His travel agency is in the heart of San Francisco, along the city's bustling Market Street, and just blocks from Union Square. He is an expert in Hawaii and Tahiti, having resided there for five years during his tenure as an officer of a cruise ship. Here are his recommendations for staycations.

Beach Street Inn

Beach Street Inn and Suites
125 Beach St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 423-3031

Bay Area college students already know Santa Cruz is one of the best spots for a staycation. The top tourist attraction in this seaside community is unquestionably the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and the Beach Street Inn is literally right across the street from the Main Beach. The Inn's ocean-view rooms are the best accommodations because each has its own deck with glorious views of the Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz Wharf and the 16 beach volleyball courts. For thrill seekers visiting the Boardwalk, the top choice is to take a ride on the 90-year-old Giant Dipper roller coaster.

Related: Your Guide to the Bay Area's Best Beaches

Big Sur Campground

Big Sur Campground and Cabins
47000 Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
(831) 667-2322

With majestic views of the California coast and miles of hiking trails within the redwoods of the massive Los Padres National Forest, Kirk Darymple says Big Sur is an outstanding choice for a staycation. It isn't unusual to have mild weather when spring break comes around and perhaps the most affordable overnight accommodations in Big Sur are at the Big Sur Campground. Staycationers can choose from a simple campsite, camping cabins, cabins or an RV site. There are plenty of great restaurants nearby along Highway 1, especially the incomparable yet affordable Nepenthe Restaurant, with views that capture the essence of Big Sur.

Cannery Row Inn
200 Foam St.
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 649-8580

Visitors have often said that 17 Mile Drive in the Monterey/Carmel area is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Known for its incredible vistas along Pebble Beach, the scenic drive is just one of many popular attractions in the area. The very affordable Cannery Row Inn is just one block from the historic Cannery Row, a popular choice for both locals and visitors for dining, shopping and nightlife. Other suggested outings include visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, taking a bike ride to Asilomar State Beach or heading down to Fisherman's Wharf.

Holly Huebel
Casto Travel
500 Sansome St., Suite 601
San Francisco, CA 94111
(800) 553-4777

Holly is an award-winning travel specialist who has been in the travel industry for more than 35 years. She previously owned her own travel agency for 18 years before she merged with Casto Travel. Holly has traveled around the world and specializes in several travel destinations such as South Africa, South America and Thailand. Here are her recommendations for staycations.

clear lake cottages

Clear Lake Cottages & Marina
13885 Lakeshore Drive
Clearlake, CA 95422
(707) 995-5253

Clear Lake is the largest freshwater lake entirely in California and approximately 125 miles north of San Francisco. While the lake water may be far too cool to take a dip during spring break, the Clear Lake Cottages has a great pool with an awesome lakeside view. Guests can cast off at the private boat launch to go fishing in the "Bass Capital of the West" or simply enjoy the lake's natural beauty. Five of the cottages have full kitchens and all cottages have free Wi-Fi for students who want to stay connected with social media.

Safari West

Safari West
3115 Porter Creek Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 579-2551

In addition to Clear Lake, Holly Hueber suggests a very unique spot for lodging in the California Wine Country, just northeast of Santa Rosa. Without having to travel to exotic countries, visitors to Safari West can spend the night and go on an African safari and enjoy more than 80 species of different animals, such as giraffes, zebras and cheetahs. Safari West offers Safari tents and cottages and can accommodate up to four adults. Also on the property is the Savannah Café, open for lunch and dinner, and a snack shop that's open only during the summer.

Related: Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip To Livermore, CA

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on

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