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The first thing that comes to mind when hearing Southern California is probably the picturesque beaches, and it’s certainly filled with some of the most spectacular stretches of sand, but in this diverse region of the country, you can also ski down powdery slopes and enjoy treks through the out-of-this-world desert landscape. These top Southern California resorts offer something for everyone, no matter what you’re idea of a fantastic vacation in the Golden State.
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Terranea is a high-end luxury resort located in the exclusive community of Rancho Palos Verdes along one of the area’s most scenic stretches of coastline. It boasts an especially relaxing atmosphere that makes it seem worlds away from L.A., yet it’s just 20 miles from the airport, along with panoramic ocean views in an unparalleled setting. The massive 50,000-square-foot spa also provides magnificent water vistas along with 25 treatment rooms. Activities include horseback riding, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Guests can also golf on a 9-hole course, play on a 140-foot waterslide and dine at outstanding restaurants featuring farm-to-table cuisine at Mar’sel and a great microbrew beer menu at Nelson’s.
One of the best resorts in San Diego, Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa offers a beautifully landscaped oasis tucked on the shoreline of Mission Bay, providing a welcome respite from the noise of the boardwalk down the road, yet just footsteps from a powdery white sand beach. This luxury resort has an island-inspired motif that consumes the gardens, pathways and koi ponds, resulting in an especially tranquil, tropical feel. Guests can enjoy taking a stroll on the property’s secluded Mission Bay beach or partaking in popular watersports like sailing, surfing, water skiing and kayaking. After a long day in the sun, botanical body treatments and therapeutic massage await at the resort’s waterfront day spa. Of course, you’ll also have easy access to many of the city’s famous attractions like Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo.
Malibu Beach Inn, set along the Pacific Coast Highway with private beachfront access is an ideal option for romance-seekers. Look forward to cuddling up with the one you love and letting the sounds of the crashing waves lull you to sleep at night. Accommodations come equipped with fireplaces, hand-picked California wines, custom robes, luxury bath products, iPads and more. Yoga on the beach and spa treatments are offered too. Oceanfront dining is available at the Carbon Beach Club, which serves seasonal land and sea menus on an oceanfront terrace.
The Westin Monache Resort offers contemporary elegance in a majestic setting and the chance to enjoy California’s most visited ski resort, Mammoth Mountain. Technically located in what’s considered to be Eastern California, it’s located a few hours northeast of Bakersfield along the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The Westin Monache Resort offers year-round activities set within the Village at Mammoth, only steps away to the village gondola as well as fantastic shops, eateries and nightlife. It offers the perfect convenient location to return to after a day of play as an all-suite resort with a wealth of high-end amenities, including panoramic views of the mountains, a 24-hour fitness center, ski valet and rental shop, and a full-service restaurant. Pets are also welcome here, and are even treated to a luxury experience that includes the Westin’s “Heavenly Dog Bed.”
The Fairmont Grand Del Mar offers an unparalleled San Diego resort destination that blends the old-world charm of a Mediterranean estate with the modern luxuries of a sophisticated resort. Its spa is one of only 30 five-star spas in the entire nation, while Addison, the resort’s onsite dining establishment is a five-star/five-diamond restaurant. Accommodations are equally as grand, providing a wonderful sanctuary with fabulous views of either the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve or The Grand Golf Club. The villas offer the epitome of palatial living.
A popular honeymoon resort in California, Miramonte Resort and Spa offers an idyllic desert getaway with an opulent twist. This Mediterranean-inspired resort in Palm Springs Valley is infused with earthy tones of crimson, amber and warm honey, set against a stunning backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Lush pathways and bougainvillea archways lead to more than spacious rooms and suites designed for the utmost comfort of each guest. Venetian-style terraces provide stunning mountain vistas while the sumptuous amenities include Signature Desert Dream Beds. A few of the property features include a luxurious spa, fine dining, two inviting pools, a whirlpool and a fitness center.
Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa is an exclusive Mediterranean-inspired retreat that evokes the natural elegance and romance of the desert. With cerulean blue domes and tile insets, the pale-blush façade stands out against the Santa Rosa Mountains, while the 360 acres of waterways and picturesque landscaped grounds harmonize with the scenic surroundings. Families can enjoy all sorts of activities, from golfing on world-class golf courses, swimming and soaking in the spa to tennis, soccer and cycling. The lagoon-style pool with a waterslide is a highlight for kids, while the tranquil spa offers an extensive treatment menu along with a full-service beauty salon. Dining options range from the resort’s signature restaurant, Pinzimini, to a poolside bar.
A top beachfront resort in Southern California, Shutters on the Beach offers historic elegance along with high-end amenities. It recalls the traditional architecture of the country’s best resorts and cottages along the coast during the 1920s and ‘30s. Located near L.A.’s city center in the heart of Santa Monica, it opens onto the beach promenade where you’ll find numerous shops, restaurants and bars close by, in addition to excellent on-site restaurants. You’ll be just steps from the Santa Monica Pier and its legendary amusement park, while surfing and yoga classes are available right on the beach.
This luxurious St Regis Monarch Beach Resort is a Tuscan-inspired resort with a private beach club that can be accessed via a shuttle. It’s also surrounded by an outstanding golf course with gorgeous ocean views and features tennis courts, a kids club, pools, outstanding on-site restaurants, particularly Michael Mina’s upscale Stonehill Tavern with amazing cuisine and an exceptional selection of wines, luxurious rooms and a world-class spa. Enjoy butler service as well as guided wildlife tours, catamaran whale watching cruises and yoga classes. The chic rooms and suites feature contemporary interiors that are notably spacious, highlighted with custom-designed furniture, fresh flowers and plants. The downside? You might find it hard to get out of bed with the luxurious goose-down comforters and Pratesi Italian linens.
This AAA Five Diamond Resort in La Jolla sits atop the cliffs of Torrey Pines State Beach and Torrey Pines Golf Course, providing spectacular, expansive views of the Pacific. Here, luxury and legendary links await, with elegant accommodations as well as the chance to tee up on one of the most renowned golf courses in the U.S. Soak up the sunshine discover the ultimate relaxation, with the lodge reflecting the San Diego area’s stress-free lifestyle. Indulge in a heavenly massage or facial treatment at the spa, hike scenic trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve, shop to your heart’s delight in La Jolla, or take a refreshing dip in the ocean on the gorgeous beaches of Del Mar. When you return after an unforgettable day, you can head to your spacious room or suite with upscale amenities like a fireplace and a full kitchen.
Paradise Point Resort & Spa offers the chance to enjoy a private island getaway without flying overseas. This private 44-acre island resort is nestled on Mission Bay in San Diego, and while it feels like a remote, tropical escape, you’ll still be close to many of the city’s popular attractions, including downtown and SeaWorld. But with so much to do right on the island, you may not want to leave. You’ll find a full-service marina, multiple swimming pools, a variety of sports courts, a fitness center and a wealth of fun recreational activities too. Roast marshmallows at a beach bonfire, take sailing lessons, play mini-golf, go for a thrilling jet-ski adventure, or just spend your days lazing by the pool and soaking up all that San Diego sunshine. The Spa at Paradise Point provides signature treatments based on sensory destinations like Bali, Fiji and Thailand, using techniques and ingredients indigenous to the particular island you choose.
Guests at Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa can enjoy 16 acres of waterfront property at the base of the Coronado Bridge. It offers easy access to downtown San Diego while being steps away from great golf, the Silver Strand Bike Path, three heated pools and tennis courts. In addition to glorious sunsets across the water, you can take in spectacular views of the San Diego skyline. The resort also provides a water taxi across the bay to Seaport Village, the convention center or the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina. After a day of fun, return to your room to soak in an oversized bathtub and cuddle up in a plush bed with a down comforter.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa offers an oasis in Coachella Valley for those who want to get out and enjoy the desert landscape as well as plenty of sun, golf and lavish swimming pools. This is an ideal resort for families, with a massive water play zone, Splashtopia, featuring two 100-foot waterslides, a beach and a lazy river. Adults can relax in the kid-free Tranquility Pool or unwind at the luxurious spa, which offers a wide array of treatments, massage and desert-themed facials. Golf enthusiasts will find the opportunity to play 27 holes at the resort’s championship golf course. Rooms are spacious and feature French doors leading to a balcony or patio, along with beautiful golf course or mountain views. The onsite restaurant, bluEmber, offers a wide range of outstanding gastronomic delights, including the much raved about coconut cake.
The legendary Hotel del Coronado sits across 28 oceanfront acres on the Enchanted Isle, Coronado Island. Built in 1888, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, this historic treasure with its vibrant red turrets and picturesque seaside setting has been visited by dignitaries, U.S. presidents and a host of celebrities. It was the film location for the 1959 classic, “Some Like It Hot,” starring Marilyn Monroe. Today it offers guests a rich history with modern conveniences, including an award-winning spa, beachfront dining, upscale shopping and an array of outdoor activities, along with luxurious villas and cottages. Enjoy surfing and paddleboarding lessons, roasting s’mores at a private beach bonfire, relaxing at the spa with signature ocean-inspired treatments, and, don’t miss the famous Sunday brunch in the historic Crown Room.
The Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa is known for its miles of pristine, uninterrupted beaches that sit at the edge of the glistening Pacific, providing the ultimate relaxing beach getaway. Luxurious amenities abound, along with Spanish-inspired architecture that set a perfect scene for an idyllic retreat, including pampering spa treatments, exceptional service, excellent restaurants and all sorts of ocean adventures. Enjoy a heated pool, direct access to the beach, lessons with surf pros, biking and more. Orange County’s famous attractions, including Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and a wide range of other entertainment are all just minutes away. Oceanfront rooms feature a private balcony, heavenly for taking in that fresh, salty air and being mesmerized by the crashing waves.
Montage Laguna Beach is a quintessential luxury Southern California beach resort, offering the best of the best in the region, set atop a coastal bluff in the picturesque arts community of Laguna Beach. Here you’ll find a unique blend of the high-end amenities of an ultra-luxury oceanfront hotel with the warmth and appeal of a cozy inn. Opulence abounds, with magnificent white sand beaches and lush landscaping along with décor and architecture that are artfully melded with the beautiful natural surroundings. Enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Coast, excellent restaurants, particularly Studio, its most upscale option, along with a world-class oceanfront spa and fitness facilities. Join in on yoga on the beach and wine tasting or indulge in in-room dining and on-site shopping. You’ll also find multiple sparkling pools and poolside cabanas.
Perched atop a 150-foot bluff providing panoramic Pacific Ocean views, the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel premiered as the very first luxury beach resort in Southern California, along seven miles of scenic coastline in Dana Point. Today, it features a revamped, re-imagined vibe with top-notch accommodations, extraordinary service and beautiful spaces, retaining its unsurpassed setting. Rooms are equipped with extra-comfy beds and marble bathrooms, some feature outdoor fire pits. Guests have access to a beach butler in the summer, while activities include eco-adventures for families, stand-up paddleboarding, cooking classes and great surfing. There are multiple restaurants, bars and dining lounges, and its spa is consistently rated amongst the top spas in California.
The upscale L’Auberge Del Mar is ideal for romance and frequently hosts weddings. Located in the heart of the region’s most picturesque coastal village of Del Mar, overlooking the ocean, guests enjoy stunning views as well as historic ambiance. Formerly the site of The Stratford Inn, it was built in 1910 and became Hotel Del Mar in 1926, attracting many Hollywood celebrities and Southern California locals alike, including Lucy and Desi Arnaz as well as Jimmy Durante, who were said to be frequent guests. Today, guests can enjoy the open-air terrace at Coastline restaurant and drinks and live music in the sociable living room area, as well as a spa, private path to the beach and a relaxing pool area. Horse racing and outstanding golf courses are available nearby.
Ojai Valley Inn is a luxury resort in the picturesque Ojai Valley surrounded by the Topa Topa Mountains. The sprawling property of white-washed Spanish-style buildings features terracotta-tiled roofs, designed for the discerning traveler. Guests will find numerous activities as well as options for relaxation and rejuvenation. Facilities include the Golf Academy, offering amateur and moderate skill golfers the chance to fine-tune their technique and learn from some of the best in the game. Guests can also visit the award-winning Spa Ojai, the focal point of the resort village, which features two pools, Mind and Body Studio, Spa Boutique and Artist Cottage and Apothecary. Horseback riding, tennis and fishing are all options too.