Patch Picks: 5 Great 'Staycations'

If you're on spring break and on a budget, then a 'staycation' is just what you need. It's a local vacation—without the expense and extensive planning of your typical vacation.

It's almost time for that infamous spring break—but who can afford going to Mexico anymore? Patch has got your back. We've got a list of the best possible "staycations" around—that's a vacation on a budget. Check 'em out, and let us know if you have any other staycation ideas in the comments section at the bottom of the page:

1. Tree Therapy

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Tie on those hiking boots and go west—to the trees! Big Basin provides more than 80 miles of beautiful scenic trails (easy to challenging in difficulty) that start at the floor of the pine needle-strewn forest and wind to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Looking to camp? The park has family and group camping, as well as tent cabins and backpacking camps. Mountain bikers are welcome on specific trails. To make campsite reservations, call Reserve America at 800-444-PARK (7275) or visit reserveamerica.com. Find the ranger station at 21600 Big Basin Way, No. 406, in Boulder Creek.

2. Theme Park Fun

California's Great America

Pack the kiddies in the minivan and head south—for about 20 minutes—to California's Great America theme park in Santa Clara. Rides and attractions include Drop Tower Scream Zone, Tiki Twirl, live shows like Charlie Brown's Pirate Adventure, KidZville, Boomerang Bay waterpark and Planet Snoopy. Rates: Adults, $54.99; kids and seniors, $34.99. Buy online for a discount. Find the park at 4701 Great America Parkway in Santa Clara.

3. Romantic Getaway

Mar Vista Cottages

Drive on up about three hours to the beautiful coastline of Gualala, a quaint beach town north of Sea Ranch. Choose from 12 cozy cottages with ocean views, queen beds and well-equipped kitchens. Getaway highlight: an organic garden and orchard where guests can pick their own food to cook for the day. Rates: $155-$285/night. Minimum two-night stay. Find the cottages at 35101 South Highway One in Gualala. For reservations, book online or call 877-855-3522.

4. The City

San Francisco

Play tourist in one of the best cities in the world—San Francisco. Do it all: Tour Alcatraz, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, savor a bowl of clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl at the famous Boudin Bakery in Fisherman's Wharf and window shop in Union Square. The San Francisco Double Decker hop-on, hop-off bus tour is a great way to get around (adults $27.99, children ages 5-11 $15.99, 90 minutes, tickets valid two consecutive days). One lesser known attraction: Legion of Honor (current exhibit: "Pulp Fashion"). Go Saturdays or Sundays at 4 p.m. to hear a concert on the famous Skinner Organ as you stroll through the museum. Find the Legion in the Presidio at 100 34th Avenue.

5. Hyper-Local

Palo Alto

If you want to stay really local—as in, biking distance, hit up our town's local getaways: Admire the bronze and brazen statues of the Rodin Sculpture Garden on Stanford's campus (free); jog up to The Dish in the Stanford Foothills on a clear day for a gorgeous view of Silicon Valley (free); read about the history of Palo Alto and see the tree our town was named after in El Palo Alto Park (free); take a walk through the (free); take the kids to the (free); grab some local grub from one of the many ethnic food restaurants on University Avenue, and follow-up with some fresh fro-yo.


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