By Jessie Festa. This solo travel California guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
Looking for a solo female travel California guide that shares the best places to travel alone?
Then you’re in the right place!
Home to Hollywood, beautiful beaches, epic theme parks, more national parks than any other state, and an endless list of things to do and see, California is a top destination for solo travelers — especially as it offers so many different types of experiences.
Whether you’re looking for a solo beach vacation, hiking trip, wine country getaway, or urban escape, you’ll find it in The Golden State.
This also means it’s easy to plan a dream solo getaway, regardless of your timeline or even when you’re visiting, as California is a year-round destination.
Now, to help you make the most of your trip, I reached out to some of my favorite bloggers to ask them their suggestions for the best places to travel alone in California. Keep reading to discover their recommendations for the best solo trips in California – and I’ve also included my own top pick.
While this list is not exhaustive, after reading you’ll have a solid starting point for mapping out a truly unforgettable California solo trip.
➡️ Safety Tip: When traveling solo in California, it’s smart to pack travel safety essentials. One top pick is the She’s Birdie Personal Safety Alarm, which is TSA-approved and can help scare away potential attackers. Other recommendations include Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments and Speakeasy Travel Supply Hidden Pocket Scarves.
🚗 Getting Around: Rent a car for your solo vacation in California? Check out Discover Cars to quickly compare your rental car options. Their comparison tool does the homework for you, and you can save up to 70% on your solo USA trip car rental by using their tool!
🏥 Travel Insurance: SafetyWing offers straightforward and comprehensive plans to make sure you’re covered in an emergecy – especially as US healthcare services are extremely expensive.
📞 Staying Connected: If visiting from abroad, I highly recommend installing an Airalo eSIM on your phone.
Confidently Enjoy Solo Female Travel In California [Free Course]
But first, before we discuss the top solo getaways in California, I invite you to grab a seat in my free Savvy Solo Traveler E-Course.
The 6-day course is designed to help you feel confident about booking your first solo trip and exploring the world alone.
- Common solo travel fears and how to overcome them
- How to choose your perfect solo trip and vacation alone
- How to tell loved ones you’re hitting the road solo
- Mentally preparing for your solo journey without losing your mind
- Essential steps for staying safe on a solo trip
- How to take amazing solo selfies
Where To Travel Alone In California
California is one of the best places to travel alone in the United States! And while you can find endless solo-friendly destinations around the state, there are a few that truly standout.
Whether you’re choosing one homebase or are looking to do a solo road trip, the following getaways are perfect for women traveling alone.
1. Big Sur
First of all, Big Sur is safe — though do make sure to drive carefully along the Pacific Coast Highway as the roads are very windy.
Speaking of the Pacific Coast Highway, there is so much to do and see along this route, particularly if you enjoy outdoor adventure travel. A few highlights include:
- Stopping at the numerous viewpoints, like Bixby Creek Bridge and Hurricane Point
- Hiking in the many state parks, like Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Julia Pfeiffer State Park (home to McWay Falls!)
- Having lunch with a gorgeous view at Nepenthe Restaurant
- Seeing seals from above at the Seal Beach Scenic Overlook
- Swimming and sunbathing at Pfeiffer Beach
- And more!
Big Sur is also connected to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a quaint seaside city full of locally-owned shops, delicious restaurants, charming cafes, fairytale cottages, and almost 100 art galleries.
While there is clearly a ton to do in Big Sur, it’s common to visit as part of a solo road trip along the California coast and elsewhere around the state. Some of my personal top suggestions for other destinations to add to your solo California road trip itinerary include Paso Robles, Solvang, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite National Park.
By Jessie from Jessie on a Journey
Big Sur Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Big Sur tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated Big Sur hotels.
2. Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa is a beautiful city located in Northern California, about an hour north of San Francisco. It’s one of the top places to visit alone in California thanks to its great restaurants, beautiful beaches, memorable experiences, and wine tasting rooms around every corner.
Santa Rosa also has many activities for solo travelers to enjoy.
First of all, the heart of Santa Rosa — called Historic Railroad Square — is a great place for solo travelers to walk, do some shopping, and savor yummy restaurants. Check out Khoom Lanna Thai Cuisine for a delicious dinner and Nimble and Finn’s Handmade Ice Cream for a sweet treat after!
For nature adventures, solo travelers can hike at SugarLoaf Ridge State Park, take a short trip to Bodega Bay for a trek with cliff views, or spend the day at Trione-Annadel State Park where the wildflowers bloom beautifully in the spring.
Solo travelers can also experience an amazing safari jeep tour right in the middle of California at Safari West, also known as the Sonoma Serengeti.
To experience history in Santa Rosa, solo travelers can reserve tickets to the Charles M. Schulz Museum to learn about the creator of Peanuts, visit the Museum of Sonoma County, or tour the ruins of Jack London’s home.
For a more local experience, visit the certified farmer’s market on Sunday to grab brunch or shop for local produce.
Santa Rosa is also located in Sonoma County, which is the middle of wine country. Solo travelers can visit family-owned wineries in the area, taste handcrafted wines, and enjoy some delicious food while supporting local businesses.
Solo travelers looking for a personalized experience can check out the family-owned Old World Winery where the grapes are stomped by foot and activated with native yeast fermentation.
For a more commercial but still amazing wine tasting experience, check out D’Argenzio Winery. Here you can taste wine from the barrels and enjoy lunch at the onsite restaurant.
The weather makes Santa Rosa a perfect destination for solo travelers, with high temperatures of 82°F and lows of 40°F. The best times to visit Santa Rosa are May and October, which is when temperatures are the most moderate.
With plenty to see and do, wonderful weather, and a friendly atmosphere, solo travelers will have a great experience in Santa Rosa!
By Pafoua from Her Wanderful World
Santa Rosa Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Santa Rosa tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated Santa Rosa hotels.
3. The Redwood National and State Parks
The Redwood National and State Parks area is one of the best places to travel solo in California, as it offers a rare opportunity to be immersed among the redwood forest.
Redwood National and State Parks are made up of four parks:
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Redwood National Park
The parks extend along the coast of northern California for about 60 miles, with more than 38,000 acres of old-growth redwood trees.
Located in the northern part of the state, Redwood National and State Parks are home to about half of all the redwood trees on earth — a spectacular setting for anyone looking for some peace and quiet. With nearly 100 miles of hiking trails winding through these ancient forests, it’s easy to find a spot all to yourself.
The campgrounds are a great place to make friends and the trails are easy to hike on your own. The park is also home to more than 400 animal species — so keep your eyes peeled! With so many animal species, you won’t feel alone but you’ll still find solitude among the giant trees.
There are many things to do in this park, but the top things to check out are: hike to Fern Canyon, observe Roosevelt Elk, and hike the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop Trail.
While in California, plan a trip to the Redwood National and State Parks; a haven for solo backpackers, hikers, and campers.
By Rasika from Bae Area and Beyond
Redwood National & State Parks Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Redwood National & State Parks hotels.
4. San Diego
Who says paradise is just for couples? San Diego is a perfect spot for solo travelers and one of the best places to go by yourself in California.
This southernmost California destination is more than just sun and surf, although those would be plenty for a relaxing getaway. With 70 miles of coastline, you’re sure to find a beach that’s perfect.
If you’re looking for a more active vacation, there’s so much to do you’ll be glad you don’t have to consult another person when you’re planning your itinerary.
A smart way for a party of one to see multiple attractions is to take an Old Town Trolley Tour. These hop-on, hop-off excursions are a safe and affordable way to see several parts of the city while getting a touch of area history to boot.
Tour stops include the Gaslamp Quarter and Waterfront Park, which is where the USS Midway Museum is docked. Get off in Little Italy for some authentic Italian cuisine, then hop back on for a ride to Coronado Island — a great place with boutique shops, cute eateries, and, of course, the eponymous hotel.
You could spend days exploring Balboa Park and still not see it all. This campus is overflowing with activities for solo travelers to enjoy, like 17 museums and cultural institutions. You can also stroll the Japanese Friendship Garden, relax at the Botanical Building and Lily Pond, and hike miles of trails.
By Theresa from The Local Tourist
San Diego Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated San Diego tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated San Diego hotels — including sumptuous hotels with jacuzzi tubs in San Diego!
5. Santa Barbara
Located less than two hours up the Pacific Coast from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is known for its small-town charm, restaurant-lined waterfront, and world-class wineries. Hospitable, sunny, and safe, this city is one of the best places for solo travel in California.
Most tourists find almost everything they need in downtown Santa Barbara and its Old Town district, where visitors can view the original adobe and Spanish-style architecture that used to grace most of the area before it was even part of the USA.
These neighborhoods are very easily walkable, and are also quite bike-friendly, making it perfect for solo travelers to get around. Those looking for a relaxing yet active way to see the countryside surrounding the city can also join one of the many bike tours of the surrounding vineyards (like these).
As far as things to do, Santa Barbara offers a wide array of historic, outdoor, and cuisine-centered activities. Visit the Cold Spring Tavern, a more than century-old stagecoach stop in the area, or explore the Old Mission of Santa Barbara.
Solo travelers can join group wine tours that either head out to the vineyards themselves or wine taste around around the city’s restaurants and shops. These tours are a great way to meet fellow travelers while enjoying some of the best California wines. Frequency Wine Company has an especially highly-rated tasting room.
Wind down by basking in the sun at Arroyo Burro County Beach Park or walking through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, which only features plants native to the area.
In the evening, dine on the water near Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Harbor, and if you’re feeling up for it, hit the bars around State Street, which are especially lively during the spring and summer months.
For stunning views of the city and coast, check out Shoreline Park – and don’t forget to bring your camera!
By Joanna from Lose the Map
Santa Barbara Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Santa Barbara tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated Santa Barbara hotels.
6. Los Angeles
You won’t regret booking a solo trip to Los Angeles, as the city offers the best of large cities, forests, the ocean, and diversity. And while, as with most cities, there are some dangerous parts, as long as you remain aware of your surroundings you can have a safe and enjoyable solo trip.
First fo all, there’s no lack of activities: from kayaking to hiking to amusement parks to beaches to unique pop-ups — like Dinos Alive, an immersive experience that feels like stepping into a time machine and traveling back millions of years.
In Long Beach, it’s recommended to rent a kayak at Kayaks on the Water and paddle through the lagoons. The water is calm and flat and you can enjoy the scenery and even kayak to beaches and restaurants.
In Marina Del Rey there are a few places where you can rent kayaks, but if you’re a beginner, you might feel more comfortable on a tour. Other places to kayak in the Los Angeles area include Huntington Harbor, Newport Backbay, and Catalina Island.
If you love hiking but don’t love going alone, Meetup.com is a great resource. There are dozens of hiking groups throughout the Los Angeles area, and you do not have to be a resident to join many of them.
There are a few places where I especially like to go walking in and around Los Angeles:
- Pelican Cove
- Malaga Cove
- Burton W. Chace Park
LA also has amazing amusement parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knotts Berry Farm, and Six Flags: Magic Mountain.
Of these, Universal Studios is my personal favorite. It’s great for solo travelers because of the single rider lines. Plus, they have a small-group VIP Experience option that gives you express ride entry, reserved show seating, and access to typically off-limits spots.
By April from Andie Campbell Blog
Los Angeles Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Los Angeles tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated Los Angeles hotels.
7. Laguna Beach
Located between San Diego and Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is one of Southern California’s premier beach destinations.
With its stunning coastal setting, scenic hiking trails, and unique shops and galleries, Laguna Beach is a great place to travel alone and is one of the best beach destinations for solo female travelers.
One of the many things that make Laguna Beach ideal for solo travelers is its thriving art scene. There are more than 100 art galleries in downtown Laguna Beach, so you can explore them at your leisure.
Be sure to also check out the Laguna Art Museum, which happens to be California’s oldest museum. The Laguna Art Museum not only showcases great art but is focused on the unique history of Laguna Beach and art in California.
Laguna Beach is also home to some of the most picturesque beaches in Southern California. With seven miles of coastline, spending time in the sand is one of the most popular things to do in this charming coastal town.
Bring a good book and beach blanket and find the perfect spot to lounge in the sun. Its gorgeous cliffside location makes the beaches of Laguna Beach some of the most scenic spots to spend a day.
There are also many lovely shops, restaurants, and boutique hotels — all within walking distance of the shore. The people in Laguna Beach are very friendly, and it is safe and easy to get around.
End your day watching the sunset while having dinner or a drink. The glamorous Montage Laguna Beach Resort has an expansive lounge with indoor and outdoor seating on a cliff high above the ocean. It is the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail while taking in the gorgeous view!
By Gwen from California Family Travel
Laguna Beach Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Laguna Beach tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated Laguna Beach hotels.
Arcata is the definition of a quaint little coastal town. Located on the northern edge of California in Humboldt County, Arcata is one of the best places to travel solo because it has actual laid-back California vibes and super friendly folks.
There are a number of things to do in Arcata for every type of traveler, but I’d say this location is best suited for someone who enjoys being outside. If you’re looking to spend a few days in Arcata and the surrounding areas, here are some things you shouldn’t miss.
First of all, the Arcata Plaza Farmers Market is a great place to immerse yourself in the local community. There are several street food options, craft goods, and produce — all surrounded by local stores — making it the perfect place to pick up a souvenir. Don’t forget to grab a drink from Jitter Bean Coffee Co. while you walk around!
Additionally, the Arcata Community Forest has a network of walking trails that range from easy to moderate, but they aren’t your average hikes. This forest feels more like a rainforest than any ‘ole backyard trail in the woods and is a great place to set up a hammock if that’s your thing.
If you want to get active, don’t miss kayaking or paddle-boarding in the neighboring bays. Kayaking is one of my personal favorite solo activities because it’s a great way to free your mind and let your soul breathe, all while exercising those triceps!
I recommend renting from Humboats Kayaking Adventures. Along with boat rentals, they offer a few different guided tours for a range of interests: wildlife, local history, sunsets, full moon experiences, and leisurely floats down a river.
Love beautiful views? Catch an epic sunset at Trinidad State Beach. You can opt to take a relaxing stroll in the sand or hike to a lookout point with sweeping views. Either way, you’re sure to see a breathtaking sky.
Whether you’re more of a solitary traveler or like to meet people along the way, Arcata has exactly what you need for the best solo adventure in California.
By Kaity from The Roaming Runaway
Arcata Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Arcata hotels.
Calistoga in California makes a great wine country homebase for solo travelers.
This walkable and friendly little city feels straight out of a Hallmark movie. Visitors have lots of options for exploring the outdoors, relaxing at a spa, enjoying the charming downtown, and trying some of California’s famous wines.
There are three California State Parks within five miles of downtown Calistoga, each offering a variety of great ways to get outside and hike. Or check out the nearby petrified forest!
Locals refer to Calistoga as “Mud City” due to the many spas located here that offer now-famous healing mineral bath treatments. Relax with a mud bath at the Wes Anderson-inspired Calistoga Motor Lodge’s MoonAcre Spa, a place with zero pretension and loads of quirky style.
Downtown has lots of shopping and dining options. Stroll down Lincoln Avenue to peruse bookstores, art galleries, clothing shops, and more. The year-round farmer’s market takes place here every Saturday morning.
Finally, there are 60+ wineries in the Calistoga AVA region – this is wine country, after all! The nice thing about Calistoga is that you don’t even have to leave downtown to find a wine tasting room. Tank Garage Winery is an especially fun option for solo travelers with retro surfer vibes and limited edition small-lot wines.
By Sarah from The Wandering Road
Calistoga Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Calistoga tours.
Click here for a list of top-rated Calistoga hotels.
10. Joshua Tree National Park
I love to spend time in the desert solo. There is no better place to think, plan, or dream than within a landscape that stretches out endlessly. It feels like anything is possible.
Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California is one of the best places to go alone in California. The flora and fauna of the park are unlike anywhere else on the planet; alien-like plant life and giant boulders will quickly transport you to another world.
Joshua Tree has a lot to offer solo travelers. Whether you consider yourself a hiker or not, there is a trail here for you. From easy walks like the Cholla Cactus Garden and Hidden Valley Nature Trail to moderate hikes like Lost Horse Mine to strenuous treks like Lost Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree offers hikes of all levels of difficulty.
Due to the high temperatures and rugged terrain, all hikes are best tackled as early in the morning as possible.
This is also one of my favorite spots to camp in the state. Joshua Tree National Park is a designated Dark Sky Park. This means that it offers an exceptionally dark and clear night sky, perfect for seeing those thousands of stars dotting the sky.
Far enough away from any large city, Joshua Tree is ideal for stargazing. When planning your trip, be sure to consider this spectacular experience. There are nine campgrounds throughout the park and the best time for camping runs from September through May. Make your reservations well in advance – it’s quite popular!
Those who just enjoy looking at or photographing nature will love to spend time here, too. The Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert both fall inside of the park boundaries, which means that visitors will see two very different landscapes in the north and south ends of the park.
The small town of Twentynine Palms, which leads into Joshua Tree National Park, is an eclectic and artsy town worthy of exploring. As there is no food or water available once you’re inside the park, this will likely be a necessary stop to stock up on provisions.
I would suggest spending several days here exploring. You won’t regret it!
By Monica from This Rare Earth
Joshua Tree National Park Travel Resources:
Click here for a list of top-rated Joshua Tree National Park hotels.
Staying Safe During Solo Female Travel In California
Now that we’ve gone over some of the best places to solo travel in California, let’s chat about safety. In fact, I’ve got an entire video sharing some of my top solo travel safety tips:
Even when visiting the safest places to travel alone in California, it’s important to use common sense, learn about any local scams, and understand some tried-and-true advice (which is what I share in the above video!).
Getting Travel Insurance For Your Solo Trip
When visiting California — or anywhere else in the world — it’s wise to get travel insurance.
One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country.
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
Solo Trip California FAQs
Still wondering about California solo travel? Here are some commonly asked questions that may help you decide the best destination(s) for your solo trip in California.
Q) What are the best places to go alone in Southern California?
San Diego, Laguna Beach, and Joshua Tree National Park are all located in SoCal and make great solo vacations in California.
Q) What are the best solo trips in Northern California?
Arcata, the Redwood National & State Parks, and Santa Rose are all great places to go by yourself in Northern California.
Q) What are the best solo day trips in California?
The best day trips will depend on your location but any of the national or state parks, like Redwood or Joshua Tree, would be perfect for a day trip. San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Laguna Beach also make fun day trips.
Q) What are the best things to do alone in California?
There are many things you can do on a solo trip to California. Relaxing on the beach, exploring the cities, and visiting the many national and state parks are just a few ideas.
Q) Is LA safe for solo female travelers?
As with any large city, do your research in advance to avoid any sketchy areas and be aware of your surroundings. Otherwise, LA is a great destination for solo travel in Southern California.
Q) Is San Diego safe for solo female travelers?
Yes, San Diego is one of the best destinations for solo travelers in California. It’s a safe city to explore, just be aware of your surroundings as you would in any city, and enjoy the 70+ miles of coastline!
Solo Female Travel California Bonus Resources
Hopefully, this list of best places to travel alone in California as a woman has inspired your planning. No matter where you choose to go, make sure to also arm yourself with important tips via the following guides:
What places would you add to this solo female travel California guide?
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