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California Resorts with Room to Roam

For anyone seeking an outdoor escape, Golden State luxury resorts offer plenty of open space to explore

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After months of being cooped up in quarantine, many of us are longing to get out and see something other than our own living rooms and backyards. We dream of taking long walks along windswept beaches, we pine to dip our toes in a cool mountain lake, and we long to unwind poolside with a glass of wine in hand. At resorts across California, you can do all that and more—often without ever leaving the property. Many of the Golden State’s top resorts offer an extra measure of privacy and safety, including freestanding cottages and suites with private entrances. (Read "What You Need to Know About Staying in California Hotels" for more information.) Here are nine California luxury resorts, listed north to south, that offer plenty of room to roam.

Highlands Ranch Resort, Mill Creek

Ten miles from Lassen Volcanic National Park lies Highlands Ranch Resort, gorgeously situated in a 175-acre alpine meadow. The resort features cottages and suites decked out with plush amenities, fireplaces, and in some cases, outdoor Jacuzzi tubs with meadow views. Schedule a horseback riding tour on the property, or venture out to explore Lassen’s hydrothermal wonders.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, Truckee

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe at Northstar isn’t just known for great skiing, it’s also a gorgeous summertime retreat. Along with luxurious guest rooms and suites, the resort offers private residences—ranging from two to four bedrooms—equipped with gourmet kitchens. Spend the day swimming laps or chilling at the pool, or book a coveted spot at the waterfront Lake Club to enjoy direct beach access, an outdoor whirlpool, and complimentary use of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

The Inn at Newport Ranch, Fort Bragg

The Inn at Newport Ranch is a breathtaking coastal oasis just north of Mendocino, where the redwoods meet the Pacific. With just nine guest rooms and suites set on a 2,000-acre ranch, you’ll feel like you have the place all to yourself as you wander 30 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, or take an open-air ATV tour of the property’s gorgeous open spaces.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Calistoga Ranch, Calistoga

Offering 50 freestanding guest lodgings plus vacation home rentals, Napa Valley’s Calistoga Ranch offers 157 acres of serene, natural beauty. Take your time exploring the property’s private canyon and hiking trails, visit the resort beehive and chicken coop, or simply roam the estate vegetable gardens. After finding your Zen at an outdoor yoga session complete with wine pairings, book a curated four-course dinner experience on your own private deck.

Alisal Guest Ranch, Solvang

Alisal Guest Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley is wonderfully secluded, yet only 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Set on 10,000 acres, the site is home to 50 miles of horseback riding trails, a spring-fed lake for fishing and kayaking, two championship golf courses, tennis courts, and a pool. You’ll find lots of great activities for kids, including riding lessons, archery, and visits with friendly barnyard animals. Suites and studios are decorated in authentic Western style, each with a fireplace and private patio.

La Quinta Resort & Club, La Quinta

With the Santa Rosa Mountains as a backdrop, the La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs offers hacienda-style casitas, villas, and suites decorated in soothing desert hues. Most rooms have fireplaces and secluded private patios, including the King Starlight Casita, with its inviting outdoor fireplace. Fancy a swim? Along with five golf courses, the 1,400-acre resort includes 41 onsite pools, along with hiking trails, tennis, and outdoor yoga with desert views.

Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes

The only luxury resort on the Los Angeles coast, Terranea is a magnificent cliffside resort set amid 102 acres of natural beauty. Among Terranea’s 582 guestrooms and suites are spacious casitas and villas, a bungalow suite that overlooks the Pacific, and a villa with a full kitchen. Outdoor pursuits abound for both adults and kids, from coastal hikes to stand-up paddle-boarding to archery. There’s even a falconry program for raptor fans.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach

The Resort at Pelican Hill is an Italian-style paradise perched on 504 coastal acres in Newport Beach. The property features private, residential-style villas and bungalows with stunning ocean views, along with two picturesque oceanside golf courses and a striking circular pool that measures 136 feet in diameter. Be sure to take time to stroll the grounds, adorned with olive groves, fragrant lavender fields, fig trees, and pines.

Rancho Valencia, Rancho Santa Fe

Tucked away on 45 acres of lush gardens and olive groves 25 miles north of San Diego, Rancho Valencia is a Spanish Colonial-inspired retreat that includes 49 casitas—each with its own spacious, private patio overlooking the olive groves. Renowned for its tennis program, the property boasts six tennis courts and three pickleball courts, along with outdoor yoga and fitness classes, and a tranquil, cabana-lined swimming pool.

Before you explore any of these locations, be sure to visit our Responsible Travel Hub, which includes helpful Travel Updates.

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