The best Airbnbs in California

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  • As Americans slowly get back to domestic travel, many are looking for destinations within 200 miles from home according to recent Airbnb data.
  • Private home rentals are a top lodging choice since they limit encounters with others and promote social distancing.
  • California is one of the most popular locations for Airbnb rentals, with spectacular homes near beaches, deserts, wine country, national parks, and urban centers.
  • We combed Airbnb listings to select top-reviewed homes with impeccable amenities in cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Francisco, and others.

As people begin to return to domestic travel, safety tops many Americans' priority lists, with travelers choosing close-to-home driving trips bound for private home rentals as opposed to boarding a flight to a crowded resort.

That's because doctors consider the private residential environment to be low risk for virus transmission, given the fact that the virus is known to transmit primarily between people via respiratory droplets. And when compared with hotels, the number of face-to-face encounters at a private home rental is especially low.

Airbnb also recently released data underscoring these travel trends. They showed nearly half of 2,200 adult survey respondents in the US prefer their first post-pandemic trip to be within 200 miles from home.

However, before you jump into making any travel plans, it's vital to know and consider that without a vaccine there's no guarantee of safety right now. We always recommend following guidelines from the CDC and WHO and taking safety precautions like hand washing and social distancing.

Additionally, many parts of California are experiencing extreme wildfires and even places not directly affected by the fires are experiencing low air quality. You can check the daily wildfire update here.

But, for some added peace of mind, Airbnb recently announced they are requiring all hosts to follow stringent new cleaning policies. This includes wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and, for hosts and their teams, abiding by a five-step enhanced cleaning process. Still, some travelers may feel more comfortable taking added precautions like bringing their own sheets and running dishes through the dishwasher before use. Of course, that means you're now cleaning the home for which you likely already paid a hefty cleaning fee.

With that in mind, if you are planning a future trip to the Golden State, there's plenty of accommodation choices, including beach bungalows, mid-century desert homes, and tiny mountain houses. We rounded up top-rated Airbnbs in cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; as well as coastal getaways in Santa Barbara and Big Sur, wine country retreats in Napa Valley and San Louis Obispo, desert homes in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, and listings near national parks like Yosemite.

The following properties were all selected based on the following criteria:

  1. Airbnb listing is for the entire home (no awkward hallway encounters).
  2. All are highly-rated, well-located Airbnb listings with a rating as close to 5.0 as possible.
  3. All homes are listed by Superhosts to ensure a positive experience, with exceptional design, charm, and amenities to guarantee a great getaway. 
  4. Homes offer an affordable price range, starting at $93 for a Yosemite tiny home and rising to $425 for a Big Sur splurge.

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These are the best Airbnbs in California, sorted by price from low to high.

Tiny house in Yosemite, $93

Book this tiny house starting at $93 per night

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, and this one is located just about 30 minutes from the park entrance. It's 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 real 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.

The property is mostly booked up, but has a few days available in November.

Rating: 4.97

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific cleaning procedures are noted yet, but the listing holds a 4.9 cleanliness score across 214 reviews.

Beach home near Santa Monica and Venice Beach, $128

Book this Venice Beach guest studio with pool starting at $128 per night

After months of isolation, access to a beach feels both exotic and essential. Santa Monica and Venice are among LA's most popular and central beach areas, and lodging in the area can be quite 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, 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 has sporadic availability in October with more days open in November and December.

Rating: 4.94

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Zen-like studio in San Diego, $130

Book this zen-like studio starting at $130 per night

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 property is booked up for October but has plenty of availability for November and December.

Rating: 4.87

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific cleaning procedures are noted yet, but the property is newly renovated, and it holds a 4.8 cleanliness score across 337 reviews. 

Remodeled home in the San Francisco Bay Area, $151

Book this remodeled private home starting at $151 per night

With its palpable tech wealth, San Francisco and the Bay Area has 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.

The property still has several dates available in October and November.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Bungalow in Hollywood, $151

Book this rustic Hollywood Hills bungalow starting at $151 per night

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 room for two guests with a Queen-sized bed and 1.5 baths, so come here with a loved one, or check-in solo to work on your screenplay. 

The property still has plenty of days open in October and November.

Rating: 4.91

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Minimalist home in Joshua Tree, $172

Book this minimalist industrial home starting at $172 per night

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 with records, and various analog games like horseshoes and Frisbee will help keep you busy while remaining unplugged.

This home has just a few days left in October and November.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Secluded retreat in Santa Barbara, $209

Book this secluded Montecito retreat starting at $209 per night

Take a romantic coastal drive to the Santa Barbara area and settle into this 717-square-foot ultra-posh Montecito retreat. It has a comfy 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 plenty of availability throughout October and November.

Rating: 4.93

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Farmhouse cottage in Napa Valley, $221

Book this farmhouse cottage starting at $221 per night

The challenges of recent months have undoubtedly created a slew of new wine devotees, joining the ranks of those who've long loved to visit wine country for winery tours and barrel tastings.

Book your wine country 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 as scarce as you prefer, leaving you to enjoy a glass of wine on the patio after a day out touring the vineyards.

This property still has many available dates in October and is almost entirely open in November. 

Rating: 4.92

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home participates in Airbnb's Enhanced Clean program, meaning the host is committed to a rigorous cleaning protocol developed with leading health and hospitality experts.

Midcentury home in Palm Springs, $284

Book this private mid-century getaway starting at $284 per night

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, with 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 here outdoors in the sleek saltwater pool, spa, and lounging area. 

The property is mostly booked for the next few months, but availability is subject to change.

Rating: 4.93

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: This home doesn't list any specific new policies, but the hosts have a 4.9 rating for cleanliness.

Scenic mountain home near Big Sur, $425

Book this sunny mountain home with views starting at $425 per night

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 — 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.

This property still has a few scattered days open in November with more dates open in December.

Rating: 4.95

COVID-19 cleaning procedures: No specific cleaning procedures are noted yet, but the property is newly renovated, and it holds a 4.9 cleanliness score across 151 reviews. 

Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.

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