Hi, I'm hitting the road next weekend with some friends. We still don't have reservations for Santa Barbara and Monterey, do you have any suggestions? our budget is not high, but we only need private rooms with private bathroom and parking, nothing more
I can give you hints for Monterey - your choice will be exactly what location (Monterey city, Pacific Grove or Carmel). Carmel is the ideal location, and also the priciest, but I would still try for something there if at all possible. My second choice would be Pacific Grove - a very nice little town with small motels/nothing real fancy, but very comfortable. Monterey city is not my kind of place. I stayed at a motel across the street from the Assilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove on the beach (beautiful beach/area).
For Santa Barbara, there are a few choices.
Cheapest would staying nearby in Goleta (about 8 miles north). Most expensive but nicest would be staying along the beach near the pier or just south over in Montecito. A mid-way mix is to stay just a short ways inland from the beach (like a block or two) or along State Street just north of downtown.
Just check out hotels.com, expedia.com, or travelocity.com to find out which hotels/motels are available--and book right away, because these cities fill up during the summer--especially on weekends.
P.S. Another real nice place to stay is in Solvang (the old Danish village), about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara. Even if you don't stay there, be sure to stop and visit.