Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
California offers a wide range of beach resorts for travelers of just about every type. Looking for a luxurious retreat at beachfront? You’ll have many fantastic options. Those on a tighter budget will find some good choices too. Whether you want to enjoy a hotel nestled along the soft sands of Southern California with its frequent sunny weather or prefer to explore the more rugged beaches up north, these resorts are some of the best options to book in the state.
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is a beautiful luxury resort nestled on the shoreline of Mission Bay that offers a tranquil oasis with beautiful landscaping away from the noisy boardwalk down the road, yet it’s just steps from powdery white sands. There are lush gardens, koi ponds and meandering pathways that give it a tranquil tropical feel that’s ideal for relaxing, but there are a wide range of active pursuits to enjoy as well. Look forward to water sports like surfing, kayaking, sailing and water skiing, as well as strolls along the sand. Its spa offers botanical body treatments and massage along the waterfront, while it also offers easy access to San Diego’s top attractions.
If you want to enjoy an ideal mix of historic elegance and high-end amenities in L.A., Santa Monica’s Shutters on the Beach may be the place to go. One of Southern California’s top resorts, it recalls the traditional architecture of the state’s most popular cottages and resorts and cottages along the coast back in the 1920s and ‘30s and opens up onto the popular beach promenade. There you’ll find lots of restaurants, bars and shops, while the famous Santa Monica Pier with its amusement park is only steps away. The resort also offers yoga and surfing classes on the beach.
Hotel del Coronado is a legend, located at oceanfront on Coronado Island. Built in 1888, this National Historic Landmark is a true treasure that’s hosted dignitaries, U.S. presidents and plenty of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe. It was even the filming location for the 1959 classic, “Some Like It Hot,” starring the blonde bombshell. Today guests can enjoy a rich history along with modern conveniences like an award-winning spa, beachfront dining, upscale shopping and a wide variety of outdoor activities, like paddle boarding and surfing lessons, as well as roasting s’mores at private beach bonfires.
Montage Laguna Beach is a luxury Southern California resort that sits atop a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific. Enjoy a unique mix of high-end amenities an ultra-luxe oceanfront hotel typically provides, but with the warmth and appeal that feels more like a cozy inn. Enjoy a white sandy beach, spectacular landscaping and architecture that perfectly blends with the natural surroundings. Onsite are top-notch restaurants, a world-class oceanfront spa and fitness facilities. Guests can take part in wine tasting and yoga on the beach, shopping and swimming in three pools with poolside cabanas.
Southern California’s very first luxury beach resort, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel sits on a 150-foot-high bluff providing endless panoramic Pacific Ocean views and seven miles of scenic coastline. Expect exceptional service and beautiful rooms that include extra-comfy beds and marble bathrooms, some that even have outdoor fire pits. In the summer, take advantage of the beach butler, and anytime, thanks to the mild weather, enjoy a variety of activities like surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and cooking classes. There are six restaurants, bars and dining lounges, and a lavish spa that’s been named among the country’s best.
Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay in Northern California is just south of San Francisco. It overlooks the Pacific and is set atop a bluff among vast grounds that include a golf course, two restaurants, a wine bar and outdoor terrace bar with fire pits as well as a swimming pool, hair salon, fitness center and massive, 16,000-square-foot spa with an extensive menu of relaxing treatments, massage, steam rooms and saunas. The area offers a variety of activities, including famous surfing, hiking and wine tasting.
For an affordable Southern California beach resort, it’s hard to beat the Blue Lantern Inn. It offers an outstanding value that includes a host of amenities, like a complimentary breakfast with delicious eats like artichoke quiche, and in the afternoon, wine and hors d’oeuvres are provided. in the afternoon. Enjoy treatments at the spa, keeping up with your workout at the fitness center and free loaner bikes to ride along the coast. All rooms come with a fireplace and spacious bathroom with a jetted tub, many overlook the ocean too.
The Dream Inn has been the place to stay in Santa Cruz for decades, located right on the sand just steps from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the most popular stretch of beachfront in the area. All rooms face the Pacific and come with private balconies, which mean you can even fall asleep to the sounds of the crashing waves. There’s a beachfront swimming pool, along with activities out on the ocean like swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking. Enjoy dining on site at the Jack O’Neill Restaurant & Lounge.
Located north of San Francisco along the breathtaking Mendocino coast, The Little River Inn is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, fronting the Pacific, offering an especially romantic escape. Rooms feature elegant Victorian decor and some come with gorgeous ocean views, Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. Enjoy a variety of activities from beachcombing and hiking to golfing and tennis, as well as massage and treatments at the spa. The inn also hosts an award-winning onsite oceanfront restaurant with an impressive menu featuring classic American-regional fare. Guests can indulge in treatments and massage at the on-site spa as well as golf, hiking, tennis and beachcombing.
Part of Pebble Beach Resorts, The Inn at Spanish Bay is known for catering primarily to luxury travelers and avid golfers. Guests can take advantage of some of the country’s top golf courses, as well as enjoy strolling the seaside boardwalk, swimming in the lap pool surrounded by greenery and sipping drinks next to the warmth of the fire pits while enjoying the sounds of the inn’s famous bagpiper. The spacious rooms come with Italian marble baths, fireplaces and balconies, many of which face the ocean. The Pebble Beach complex offers a number of dining options like Roy’s and Pèppoli.