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The scent of the pine and fresh air, the cool breeze in July, the snow-capped peaks— there’s nothing quite like the magic of the California mountains in the summer. And while there is nothing wrong with rugged camping, it can be tiresome. Mountain resorts offer a different kind of experience that provides all the same atmosphere but with just a dash more pampering and overall ease.
While mountain resorts are obvious destinations for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, all-season mountain resorts are perfect for escaping California’s HOT summers. They are also typically far less busy than in the winter.
We found the 20 best mountain resorts in California by analyzing real Google reviews and ratings. We individually reviewed 67 destinations to ensure the best possible recommendations. See our methodology for a full explanation.
What is a Mountain Resort? They encompass a broad range of destinations. Mountain resorts in the subcategory of wellness resorts are like spa resorts. These destinations are all about location over activities. Unlike ski/snowboarding resorts, wellness mountain resorts are less commercial to encourage guests to escape to nature. However, ski resorts are increasingly targeting wellness travelers in the off-season, according to the Global Wellness Institute. Some mountain resorts do not have traditional spas on-site but offer optional nature-based wellness programs, including hiking, yoga, camping, sports and water activities. Guests come to disconnect from daily life in humble, down-to-earth settings. Dude ranches typically fall into this category.
Whether you enjoy hiking, gondola rides, spas, water sports, fishing, stargazing, climbing or golf, one of the mountain resorts on our list is perfect for you!
- List: The 10 Best Mountain Resorts in California
- Table & Map: 20 Best Mountain Resorts in California
Here is a table and a map of California’s 20 best mountain resorts.
Our research team operates independently to recommend the best destinations using data analysis. Our top recommendations are based solely on data extraction, a ranking algorithm, and a strict-as-possible definition of “mountain resort.” Our research is editorially independent, but we may earn a commission for any purchases made through links on this page.
The analysis is based on extensive primary data research and secondary expert sources from April to May 2022, including literature reviews and database formulation through visual web data extraction software. Sources include global research institutes, industry-specific businesses, travel promotion publications, booking websites, encyclopedias, travel magazines, health information websites, and industry associations.
The rankings are based on an analysis of 67 mountain resorts in California. We used Octoparse, a data extraction tool, to find these destinations on Google Maps. All data were extracted between 4/23/22-4/27/22. Our algorithm gives each location a score by weighing its number of Google reviews against its average Google Review Score. Our scores are on a 5-point scale.
We used our mountain resort definition, built off the GWI’s wellness economy definitions, to individually examine every resort that our data extraction tool found and eliminated destinations that did not adhere to the description. We especially removed mountain resorts that are not open in the summer.
Our algorithm is proprietary, but if you are looking to build a similar project, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected], and we can walk you through the process. You can download a spreadsheet of the top 20 destinations based on our analysis here. Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find this helpful — we ask that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so its contributors can receive proper credit for their work.
With 143 rooms, suites, and hillside villas situated in the woodlands near the entrance to Yosemite National Park, The Rush Creek Lodge is a true wellness mountain resort. It’s only three hours from the San Francisco Bay Area but, in reality, a world away. Their 5,000 square foot indoor/outdoor spa features an aromatherapy steam room, a Himalayan salt block sauna, a cool-mist shower, a sensory deprivation room, a one-of-a-kind indoor warm waterfall cove, and a warm river rock bed. If you can leave the Rush Creek Spa, check out their new hiking trails and bike rentals or sign up for one of their daily activities like zip-lining or fitness classes. They even have a complete wellness retreat program coming soon!
What Guests Are Saying: “The villa was perfect, we loved the design of our lodge, but overall all the complex was outstanding,” according to a recent Google review. “So many activities for all 4; we enjoyed everything about the complex. And the food is just perfect. Our kids, 14 and 10, did not want to leave… We will definitely stay here again. Thank you for a great time and wonderful memory. Merci.”
Nestled in California wine country, the Meadowood is as charming and historic as tasteful and grand. The resort is tucked away in a wooded canyon, surrounded by mountains, and sprawls out into the vineyards below. Although a bit on the expensive side, it certainly delivers. From the expansive and immaculately decorated Hill House to the cozy, smart cottage rooms, every room or house is designed for indoor-outdoor lifestyles. A full-service on-site spa surrounded by lush woods offers a variety of facials, massages, and baths. You can also book a curated massage in your room!
What Guests Are Saying: “I have always known about Meadowood for its well-known 3-star Michelin restaurant, but never knew much about the resort,” according to a recent Google review. “I booked it spontaneously, looking for a more upscale stay for my weekend napa trip, and my expectations were completely exceeded! The amenities were incredible, including three pools, tennis courts, bikes for rent, hiking trails, a full gym, and a great spa. The staff, service, food, and in-room touches were impeccable. I felt like I was transported to nostalgic childhood memories of being at camp again, except with everything being high quality. Staying at the resort gave us no reason to explore anywhere else. In the future, we plan to stay for longer and benefit even more from all that the resort has to offer.”
All though called the Snow Summit Townhouse, this vacation rental resort is a four-season destination. Only minutes from Big Bear Lake and at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains, the resort offers fully furnished two and three-bedroom townhouses with fully equipped kitchens and each with a fireplace. Enjoy water skiing, fishing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, or just relaxing on the lake during the day or chill by the heated outdoor pool. Take in the smell of pine as you stargaze at night and if you are visiting in the cooler months, snuggle in with a roaring fire for the evening.
What Guests Are Saying: “Fabulous location near the ski slopes at Snow Summit,” according to a recent Google review. “Each condo is independently owned and managed by different managers. There is a big difference in each townhome in management, amenities, and furnishings. If you have any concerns, please let your manager know, especially if you need anything. The management on site is very friendly and helpful.”
This upscale, modern ski resort sits in the shadows of Mammoth Mountain, where you will find plenty of things to do with the whole family any time of the year. During the summer months, the Village Lodge provides guided climbing adventures, an unpretentious golf course, an endless list of hiking trails, boating and fishing at Mammoth Lake, a bike park, and a host of summer activities. Each room is elegant and rustic and ranges from studio condos to three-bedroom deluxe condos with views of Mammoth Lake.
What Guests Are Saying: “In a really nice area and right next to all the shops and food places,” according to a recent Google review. “Has a nice pool with two jacuzzis, and the room has a full kitchen with everything you need. I highly recommend this place.”
Featuring a modern, urban decorated interior with large wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows, the Kimpton Rowan Hotel at the base of Mount San Jacinto is a gem in the desert. After unloading your luggage in your luxurious room, complete with a spa-like bathroom, enjoy dips in the giant rooftop pool between sips of your cocktail from the adjacent bar. Enjoy fresh Mediterranean food from the Juniper Table or locally sourced American fare at the 4 Saints for dinner before making your way back to the roof or winding down in your suite.
What Guests Are Saying: “Best hotel in Palm Springs,” according to a recent Google review. “Pretty much a W hotel-style IHG brand hotel, but without the stuck-up attitude. Service is exceptional as if you are abroad. Valet parking service is fantastic, fast, attentive, and professional. Rooms are a nice, stylish, and decent size.”
Sitting right at the edge of Southern Lake Tahoe, The Landing is a destination you will want to “dock” at again and again. With a full-service spa, a rooftop deck with a fireplace, a wine cellar with lounge, scenic lakeside views, an outdoor pool, and a hot tub — both ADA accessible — you’ll have a hard time leaving the resort! But, You’re at Lake Tahoe after all, and only minutes from fishing, boating, beaches, hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, tours, and so much more!
What Guests Are Saying: “We specifically chose this hotel due to the location and views, and they did not disappoint,” according to a recent Google review. “One of the best direct views of Lake Tahoe. Great spacious suites, and the restaurant on site has awesome breakfast. [We] will be returning from FL! :).”
Mammoth Moutain Inn is another ski lodge on our list at the base of Mammoth Mountain. This cozy inn offers affordable nightly rates with all the same views and activities to choose from as its pricier neighbors nearby. As a ski-in, ski-out inn, it offers gondola rides in the summer that take you straight out of the hotel and up to Mammoth Mountain for a gorgeous panoramic view atop the 11,053 ft. peak.
What Guests Are Saying: “I really enjoyed my stay at the mammoth mountain inn,” according to a recent Google review. “The folks at the front desk and housekeeping were really nice, accommodating and very efficient. The rooms were very clean and comfortable. The lodge/lobby was inviting, spacious, yet intimate. They also have a little gift shop and general store on-site… However, the rooms are smaller and a bit dated. You also don’t have the plethora of shopping and dining options like you do in the village. If that’s an important variable in making your lodging decision, I’d take that into consideration.”
As the only all-season lakeside resort in the Yosemite area, The Pines is a perfect hub for your summer adventures. Sitting at only 3,400 ft. Bass lake reaches 80 degrees in the summer, perfect for fun on the water in a pontoon boat, ski boat, jet ski, kayak, paddleboard, or water tubes — all available from three boat rentals. Choose between 84 mountain chalets, 20 lakefront suites, or two private, fully-furnished houses, all immersed in fragrant pines and crisp mountain air.
What Guests Are Saying: “We had the luxury of spending Spring Break at the resort,” according to a recent Google review. “The chalet was beautiful and had amazing views of the lake. We spent time exploring the beaches and rented a boat to see more of Bass Lake. We also ventured off the resort for day trips to the Sugar Pine railway and Yosemite. It was an amazing trip. Highly recommend!”
Offering authentic rustic cabin lodging for any budget, the Yosemite Bug, only 27 miles from the national park, is as original as mountain resorts get. Every cabin is shaded under a grove of oak and pine and has played host to through-hikers, families, couples, adventure junkies, and just about everyone else for over 90 years. The onsite Yosemite Health Spa has a massive stainless steel oxygenated spring water UV and H2O2 hot tub with a view of the valley below. Book a massage, attend a yoga session, or take a soak in the more private aromatic soaking baths after a day of adventure!
What Guests Are Saying: “Great way to go glamping 45mins away from Yosemite National Park,” according to a recent Google review. “The facility is organized and one of a kind. They have a restaurant/cafe on site that was nice and cozy, decorated with cool relics. There is a lot of walking to and from your cabin, but that’s a given when you decide to go out in nature. Washrooms were the cleanest I’ve ever experienced while ‘camping.’ The shared kitchen could use some upgrades.”
Last but certainly not least on our top ten list is the Virginia Creek Settlement on the 395 just south of Bridgeport, California. Choose between the classic motel with traditional knotty pine walls, the private “housekeeping cabin,” one of the many family queen cabins, a massive suite on the top floor of the main building, and one of the rustic “tent cabins,” or even sleep in a covered wagon! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at the settlement, and dogs can stay free!
What Guests Are Saying: “Stayed in the tent cabin for one night with my friend and had the absolute best time here,” according to a recent Google review. “The price is right; it’s located by a babbling creek where you can sit and relax and have a fire; they have two friendly cats that stroll around the property and say hello to you. The woman who seems to run it all is amazing and so nice. She gave us a complimentary welcome bag with fish food to feed the fish in their fish hatchery on the property and a pack of ingredients to make s’mores!”