On your next trip to California, vacation like the adventurous Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would. From shopping at some of Markle’s favourite stores to dining at celebrity-favourites and exploring the state’s outdoor gems—build your itinerary from these royal-inspired ideas. Read below for recommendations on where to dine, shop, adventure and more like a royal in the Golden State.
You don’t have to be Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to receive the royal treatment in California. These exclusive luxury resorts will make commoners feel like they’re in line for the throne. From on-call butlers to private Persian-tiled billiard rooms, these resorts have everything a prince and his princess would ever need.
Go full Brit in Beverly Hills
Mirroring the holy union of Markle’s Los Angeles roots and Harry’s British lineage, the London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills is all about transatlantic luxury. Clocking in at 11,000 square feet, its London Penthouse is the largest suite in all of Los Angeles. The two-story accommodation, complete with a rooftop kitchen and an outdoor shower, was inspired by British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Guests are welcomed to an hour of completely private shopping at the designer’s boutique—after-party dress, anyone?
Stay in a penthouse palace in San Francisco
Perched atop Nob Hill, in the posh neighbourhood of the same name, the Fairmont San Francisco overlooks the city like a queen on her throne. Harry’s father, Prince Charles of Wales, has stayed in the hotel’s Penthouse Suite, which has three bedrooms, a two-story library, a spacious formal dining room, and a Persian-tiled billiard room. In celebration of the couple’s nuptials, the hotel is offering a Prince & Princess Penthouse Package for a limited time. A cool $50,000 will get you a night’s stay in the penthouse, round-the-clock luxury car service, a professional photo portrait session, $20,000 of credit to spend at Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, and more.
Get pampered near Yosemite
Experience European elegance a mere 14 miles from Yosemite National Park at Château du Sureau in Oakhurst. Surrounded by pine trees amid the rolling foothills of Yosemite, the nine-acre property exudes the romance of a countryside fairytale. Even the royal couple would feel right at home in one of only 10 exclusive rooms or the hotel’s villa—where you can relax in a soaking tub, by the stone fireplace, or in the four-poster or sleigh feather bed. By request, chambermaids with crisp white aprons will deliver croissants with elderberry jam in the mornings (when in season). Book a revitalizing Elderberry Facial at the luxurious Spa du Sureau, or ask the concierge for recommendations on which adventurous excursion to try.
Sip Rosé all day in Napa Valley
Prince Harry and his bride love their wine. In fact, Markle once maintained a lifestyle blog, “The Tig,” named after her favourite vintage. During a future stay in Napa Valley wine country, we could certainly see the two pick Auberge du Soleil as their romantic resting spot. At this five-star resort, located on the Silverado Trail in the heart of the valley, French-themed cottages dot 33 acres of olive groves. Choose a Private Maison, where you can enjoy a bottle of bubby from the well-stocked fridge while soaking in your own outdoor tub with room for two. There’s also a lovely sculpture garden, a yoga studio, and a Michelin-starred restaurant on the property.
Make like a mid-century mogul in Palm Springs
At L’Horizon in Palm Springs, every towel, bedsheet, and robe is Frette—the luxury textile company is the official purveyor of Italy’s royal house. And the excellence doesn’t stop there. For a fully exclusive experience, stay in the Residence, a former of home of esteemed film producer Jack Wrather. Guests can luxuriate in their private pool or watch the sun set from the glass-walled living room with a stunning view of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Refresh like Hollywood royalty in Ojai
Ninety minutes northwest of Los Angeles, the city of Ojai is where celebrities like Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, and Reese Witherspoon go to relax. Of the area’s handful of hotels, Ojai Valley Inn & Spa is its crown jewel. Prince Harry would love the prestigious championship golf course. Markle might enjoy a private yoga lesson held under a 200-year-old oak tree. And who wouldn’t love a freshly baked currant scone from King’s Row, the property’s onsite bakery.
Find your adobe-style castle in Rancho Santa Fe
Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa is a sliver of Spanish-style paradise 25 miles north of downtown San Diego. Blooming succulents and orange groves line the lush 45-acre property. Guests can stay at any of the lovely private casitas, but if you have access to the royal family’s travel budget, consider the Private Hacienda Home. At roughly $6,500 per night, the stunning adobe-style structure has its own pool, three bedrooms, an outdoor Jacuzzi, and (count them) five fireplaces.
Meghan Markle is a world traveller with a demanding schedule, yet the newest member of the royal family somehow remains radiant and surprisingly chill. Perhaps it’s because she uses the rare moments she does have to herself—or with Prince Harry—to practice self-care. From her vigilant yoga and Pilates regimens to her love of farm-to-table food, the actress-turned-princess makes it a priority to feel as good as she looks. The born-and-raised Californian is known to balance indulgences with healthy living and relaxing. As a visitor, you can enjoy that royal recharging experience as you travel through the Golden State.
Find mindful movements in Los Angeles
Markle is a dedicated yogi who has been practicing since she was seven. Her mother is a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, and Markle, according to reports, has been teaching Harry some moves to help him de-stress. Her favourite place to practice in Los Angeles is the modern, hip-hop hot flow Y7 Studio, which has locations in West Hollywood and Silver Lake. Another local celebrity favourite is Hot 8, a heated studio with six locations, including Beverly Hills. Take your mindfulness a step further with meditation, another favourite Markle pastime. Both The Den (locations in La Brea and Studio City) and Unplug (in Santa Monica and Hollywood) offer a variety of guided classes, from breath work and sensory deprivation to Reiki and sound bath healing. Should you get hungry after all that bodywork, try some sushi at Sugarfish, the Duchess of Sussex’s top pick for raw fish and omega-3s.
Unwind in an award-winning Santa Barbara spa
What better place to recover from exhaustive wedding planning than in a 42,000-square-foot oceanfront spa? The massive facility at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara boasts a redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room and adults-only pool. After enjoying your lavender sea salt scrub, take a stroll along the two miles of private coastline, work up a sweat on the Har-Tru clay tennis courts or retreat to your ocean-view suite.
Bliss out in Pebble Beach
Markle’s spa bridal shower was all about pampering. Indulge yourself California-style at The Spa at Pebble Beach, which offers body treatments utilizing local Monterey Peninsula herbs and minerals. There’s a juice bar on site (boasting specialty cocktails), and golf-specific therapies and bodywork should you or your knight in shining armour want to hit the Spyglass Hill Golf Course while you’re in the neighbourhood. If you’re as much of a home cook as Markle is, a stay at the Casa Palmero might suit you best—the Pebble Beach Culinary Getaway offers hands-on demos with seafood fresh from the Pacific Ocean.
Slow down in Carmel-by-the-Sea
Just south of Pebble Beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the white sandy beaches are enough to inspire tranquillity. But that’s not all: The city encourages practicing mindfulness during vacation, with scenic hikes, health-based retreats and meditation bonfires at the Horizon Inn and Ocean View Lodge. Slow down and wander the hidden courtyards of the quaint village, and pick up a copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Mindful-by-the-Sea (exclusive for guests of Carmel hotels and inns).
Soak it up in Palm Springs
If mellow desert vibes are what you’re after, Greater Palm Springs has some of the best spas in Southern California. The Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa has a wishing well, and guests are asked to set an intention for their stay. Pairs like Markle and Prince Harry can enjoy a Body Canvas Party, where couples are not only massaged but given the opportunity to paint each other with colourful clay.
The Parker’s country-club-style Palm Springs Yacht Club—designed by Jonathan Adler—has a private indoor pool for wading before or after treatments. After sipping a thimble-size serving of the complimentary cucumber-infused vodka, try the Lost at Sea package for a rejuvenating seaweed wrap, hydrating facial and manicure-pedicure. Don’t miss this opportunity to grab a meal at the Parker’s brunch restaurant, Norma’s—the menu has some of the freshest fare in the area.
Wine down in Sonoma
While Markle’s favourite wine, Tignanello, originates in Italy, she has several California favourites in Sonoma wine country. One is Jordan Vineyard and Winery, whose French-inspired offerings extend to the décor of the charming chateau. While visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, find your way to Berkeley for a memorable meal at Chez Panisse. Claire Ptak, creator of the royal wedding cake, is a Marin County native and used to work at the iconic Alice Waters restaurant.
Retail therapy in San Francisco
The newly appointed princess has effortless style, and you can emulate her elevated classic look with a relaxing day of downtime: shopping in the Bay Area. Many of Markle’s favourite fashionable items can be found in San Francisco, including specialty slippers from Birdie’s. The stylish, rubber-soled indoor/outdoor slip-on shoes come in an array of appealing styles, colours and adornments. At the San Francisco Centre, you’ll find Aritza, the Canadian fashion retailer that makes the chic dresses and trendy trench coats that Markle frequently dons. After working up an appetite, head to Delfina, the Mission’s mainstay, must-try Italian restaurant (reservations recommended). Handmade pasta is one of Markle’s ultimate indulgences.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s historic union was called “the people’s wedding” for good reason. Not only did the down-to-earth couple invite hundreds of British schoolchildren to be guests on their big day, but they also asked for charity donations in lieu of gifts. Separately, both Harry and Meghan have a long history of altruism—he has founded a number of charities, while her commitment to activism started in childhood. Feeling inspired by the royal couple to make the world a better place? We have some brilliant ways to spread the love while visiting California.
1. Protect our waves and wildlife
Ocean conservation is one of the causes the couple chose to add to their wedding ‘registry’ via the U.K.-based Surfers Against Sewage. One visit to California’s stunning coastline will inspire you to ensure that the Pacific stays pristine for generations to come. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to get involved: Test water quality, search for stranded marine wildlife, or dive in to participate in June’s Great Annual Fish Count.
2. Support those who served
Prince Harry deployed twice to Afghanistan with the British Armed Forces so it’s no surprise that veterans remain close to his heart. For 30 years, the Veterans Village of San Diego has organized an annual Stand Down event during the summer for struggling former service members. Homeless veterans who attend the fair are provided with clothing, haircuts, medical services, legal assistance, job counselling and more. The event is powered by volunteer support—sign up in advance or simply show up near the southern edge of Balboa Park.
3. Run to raise funds
As Patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust, Prince Harry has motivated thousands of runners to give back through racing. Follow in his royal footsteps at the California International Marathon, held the first Sunday in December in Sacramento. The marathon, which also includes a relay option, allows the Sacramento Running Association to raise more than $1 million annually for charity. Beneficiaries include the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, American River Parkway Foundation and United States Association of Blind Athletes.
4. Shuttle food to shelters
Los Angeles–based Thrive Market was founded with the mission to make healthy food more accessible to families of all income levels. The e-commerce retailer is leading a drive to accept food stamps for its purchases online, and they also donate their surplus food each day. All you need is a car and a few hours to be a part of the solution. Volunteers take food from the warehouse in Marina del Rey to local shelters from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. After your shift wraps, go for a sunset clean-up at Mother’s Beach and earn extra good karma.
5. Eat, drink, and provide sanctuary
Celebrate good work at the annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food & Brew Festival, held each June in Camarillo. The best vintners, brewers and chefs from Ventura County offer unlimited pairings for the price of admission. Special events include culinary competitions with celebrity judges and a seven-course dinner from the festival’s top chefs. Proceeds go to Casa Pacifica, a 24-acre campus where abused and neglected youth can find shelter, support, education and care.
6. Get glam for a good cause
For their first post-engagement public outing, Meghan and her prince chose a World AIDS Day event. You can contribute to this critical cause alongside the Hollywood elite at the annual amfAR Gala Los Angeles in October. Tickets to the star-laden event (think Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Goldie Hawn) start at $3,000. To date, the gala has raised more than $13 million for the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS as well as for education around related issues.
7. Ride for a reason
Marry your desire to give back with your love of fresh air and fine wine at the Cycle for Sight in Napa Valley. Choose your distance (15, 25, and 50-mile rides are available), then explore the valley on two wheels while raising money for a few great causes. The event benefits the Pathway Home, which helps veterans transition to civilian life; Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind; and V Foundation, which is focused on finding cancer cures. All cyclists can toast hard work and great causes with a food, music and wine festival at the ride’s end.
8. Lend a hand on horseback
Equine-assisted therapy has been used for centuries to encourage physical and mental health. At the beautiful Halleck Creek Ranch, visitors can help improve the quality of life for children and adults with disabilities. Volunteer as a one-time experience or make a longer commitment to guide riders along serene trails in Marin County’s Nicasio Valley.
Adventurous vacations provided the building blocks for the royal romance between Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle. While he lived in England and she worked in Toronto, casual rendezvous meant trips to far-flung locations, such as a safari in Botswana and a Northern Lights getaway in Norway. Channel the couple’s love of adventure with these epic California trip ideas.
1. Whale watch in Mendocino
During a 2017 excursion in Norway, the couple spent their days whale watching. California is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world, with opportunities to spot all types of cetaceans up and down the Pacific coast. One of the best spots to experience the majesty of these beautiful beasts is in Mendocino, three hours north of San Francisco. From November through April, the California grey whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico and can be spotted along California’s northern coast. Book a tour with Telstar Charters or All Aboard Adventures (both in Fort Bragg) to see the whales up close. The exclusive Sea Drum House at the Inn at Newport Ranch will provide peaceful privacy at the day’s end. Watch for spouts as you relax in your outdoor hot tub overlooking the ocean.
2. Play polo in Santa Barbara
The Prince of Wales knows his way around a polo field. During one of the couple’s first public outings, Markle watched her prince on horseback as he chucked the ball around. At the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club, you too can get a taste of the action. (Fun fact: Harry’s brother William, the Duke of Cambridge and second in line to the throne, played here in 2011). The spectator season runs from May through October, while an “Intro to Polo” clinic is held on Saturday mornings year round. Tuck in for the evening at the lavish Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore Santa Barbara, or keep your vacation on an equestrian theme by renting a covered wagon at Rancho Oso Guest Ranch & Stables.
3. Stargaze in Death Valley
During a 2017 holiday to the Arctic Circle, the royal couple admired the wonder of the Northern Lights. Death Valley National Park, home to one of the darkest skies in California, is the ultimate place to stargaze in the United States. Stay at the Inn at Death Valley, a remarkable oasis in the middle of the desert, complete with golf courses and spring-fed pools. After the sun sets, head to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center to pick up a planisphere. From there, Harmony Borax Works is only a short drive away and offers an ideal vantage point for taking in the sparkling sky.
4. Glamp among the redwoods
A fabulous backdrop for any date, Autocamp in Guerneville is the sort of rugged-meets-romantic experience the royal couple seems to relish. Tucked in the redwoods-filled Russian River Valley 90 minutes north of San Francisco, Autocamp offers high-end glamping options that include Airstream model suites and airy canvas tents. Chic interiors, spa-style bathrooms and cosy fire pits make for a luxurious retreat after a day of exploring.
5. Practice falconry in Los Angeles
The royal family has a rich history of falconry dating back to the 14th century, when King Richard II constructed the Royal Mews for the sole purpose of housing his birds of prey. Harry, not surprisingly, has gone on hunting getaways with his mates and seems to enjoy manly interactions with nature. At the luxe Terranea Resort near Los Angeles, visitors can witness the resort’s remarkable falconry program at work. Guests learn about how the birds fend off seagulls and get to participate in a flight demonstration and meet-and-greets with the owls, hawks and raptors (private tours are available).
6. Ski in Lake Tahoe
A high-alpine aptitude is more or less a requirement for royal entrée. In fact, Prince Harry hosted his bachelor party (aka stag do) at a Swiss chalet. Cut through some powder during a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe in Truckee. After a day marked by ski-in, ski-out access, relax next to the fireplace at the Highlands Bar as you sip on a negroni (Markle’s cocktail of choice), or nab a reservation for the intimate chef’s table at Manzanita. Bonus points for booking an afternoon of mushing at Tahoe Dog Sled Tours—just like the couple did in Norway.
7. Ride a jeep through the San Andreas Fault
Experience the geological drama of an active earthquake fault with an off-road adventure courtesy of Desert Adventures’ Red Jeep Tours in Palm Desert. Ramp up the romance by booking the sunset tour to witness burnt orange and deep pink hues outlining the cuts and canyons. Settle in for the night in a private bungalow at the exclusive L’Horizon Resort and Spa, a favourite destination of U.S. presidents, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and other Hollywood golden-era royalty.
8. Go white-water kayaking at Otter Bar Lodge
Secluded, off-the-grid, and surrounded by breath taking wilderness, the immersive Otter Bar Lodge Kayak School in Forks of Salmon offers two things the royal couple love: an adrenaline rush and privacy. This thrilling camp in California’s northeast corner provides amenities beyond what you would expect. Throughout the weeklong adventure, you’ll be served farm-to-table meals featuring produce from the on-site garden. Opt to recover from the Salmon River paddling with a massage or a soak in the hot tub.
Millions of royal wedding watchers obsessed over Price Harry and Meghan Markle, who rode through the streets of Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage on their wedding day. But an Ascot Landau (the expected chariot of choice) is only one of the many ways in which Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get around in style. From private helicopters to luxurious yachts, this pair knows how to travel. You too can ride like a royal with these absolutely California experiences fit for a duchess and duke.
Climb into a ’copter
During his deployment to Afghanistan, Prince Harry flew Apache attack helicopters for the British Armed Forces. Today, he and Markle more often opt for more relaxing chopper rides. Book your own heli experience with the Viator VIP: Napa by Helicopter, which transports guests from San Francisco to Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail for an afternoon of tapas and wine-tasting. Itching to get in the cockpit yourself? Take the introductory lesson at Vertical CFI in nearby Hayward. During the 30-minute ride, you’ll be able to take the controls and fly (under the careful eye of the pilot, of course).
Rip through the desert
Prince Harry has his motorcycle license and has been spotted riding all over the world. Get a royal thrill in Palm Springs by renting a set of wheels (or two) at Eaglerider to rip through wide desert roads. Consider a trip to the nearby Sunnylands estate, where Prince Harry’s grandma, the Queen of England herself, once enjoyed a luncheon. The chic Sparrows Lodge will provide the ideal complement to your Harley-Davidson day. Refresh in your room’s rain shower and deep horse-trough bathtub, and reserve a couple’s massage in the lodge’s outdoor gardens.
Charter a jet
Meghan and Harry’s 18-month-long romance involved heavy jetting between London and Toronto, where the California-born actress filmed the TV series Suits. But you don’t need to be in a high-profile long-distance relationship to enjoy the luxury of a private charter. The Early Air Way serves the Monterey Peninsula, whisking high-flyers to the stunning city from all over the world. Make sure you’re fresh for the golf course at Pebble Beach by ordering an in-flight massage. Or wait until you’re on solid ground to get the royal treatment at the Vista Blue Spa at Monterey Plaza, named one of the top 25 spas by Travel + Leisure.
Ride the rails
Is there anything more refined than a luxurious train excursion in a private car? Harry and Meghan have been known to book first-class tickets on the Heathrow Express, but you can have an even better view on the Starline Tours California Coast & Ride. The three-day trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco snakes along the majestic California shoreline. ‘Day two’ even includes a look into the life of American royalty with a tour of Hearst Castle, the 163-room former home of the late media magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Cruise around in luxury wheels
The royal family’s fleet includes a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, Audi A8, Aston Martin DB6 and Jaguar XJ. Find your dream vacation ride at Beverly Hills Rent-a-Car. Choose among the premium exotics, luxury cars and premium SUVs, including a Rolls-Royce Dawn, Ferrari Portofino and more. Zoom around town, stopping for a studio tour of Sony Pictures, where a young Meghan often visited her father, a tech on the set of Married With Children. Ask for the valet at Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa or Terroni, two of the actress’s favourite L.A. eateries.
Sail a private yacht
Make like the world’s hottest couple and take to the seas with OC Yacht Rentals. Meghan and Harry are reported to have chartered a pre-wedding yacht to sail through the Greek Isles, and you can float through your own slice of paradise, pushing out from Newport Beach in Orange County. Choose from the Villa, an intimate 10-passenger yacht, the (ahem) Royal Princess, a 150-capacity beauty or anything in between. Sip Champagne as you sunbathe on the bow and enjoy views of the clear blue Pacific.
Soar over vineyards
Few things say ‘pure romance’ more than a hot-air balloon ride over rolling vineyards. Meghan has been snapped gazing at the balloons while on vacation in Cappadocia, and one of the first balloon launches occurred on the grounds of Versailles (bien sur!). Temecula Valley, just east of San Diego, is famous for its beautiful ballooning. Book an off-the-ground wine country tour (complete with tasting) through The Grape Escape, or head to the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, held this year on from June 1st–3rd.
No matter what sort of transport suits your fancy, these on-the-go experiences are sure to make you feel like you’re in line for the throne. Remember to practice your curtsy, pack your tiara and get ready to travel through California with style and grace.
It’s a modern fairy tale: an American actress, a British prince, a blind date gone (very) well, culminating in a royal wedding that had the world buzzing. Former Suits star and California girl Meghan Markle is a self-proclaimed foodie, a fan of both healthy eating and the occasional indulgence. In honour of her royal wedding to Prince Harry, we rounded up a handful of the state’s trendiest spots and most exclusive tables into a must-taste itinerary worthy of a princess—but available to you.
Watch chefs work their magic at The Restaurant at Meadowood
The best seats at chef Christopher Kostow’s Wine Country haven don’t just have a view of the line; they’re inside the kitchen at the coveted chef’s counter, where the Michelin three-star tasting menu is upgraded to a 20-course feast that kicks off at $500. The reward for that extraordinary expenditure? A front-row seat to a kind of culinary sorcery where your dinner might include cheese candles, house-smoked eel and a photo souvenir with Kostow himself.
Experience farm-to-table perfection with Outstanding in the Field
The farm-to-table philosophy that has swept the country is often traced to Berkeley’s Chez Panisse. That movement reaches its modern apex with Outstanding in the Field’s pop-up dinner parties, outdoor extravaganzas that take place at farms and vineyards where local purveyors and chefs come together to create one-of-a-kind meals around a single large table. Locations and menus vary for each meal, from a secret sea cove in Santa Cruz to an organic date ranch in Palm Springs. It’s a royal banquet, California style (with room for all the lords, ladies and hat-wearing cousins), and a celebration of Golden State goodness.
Mingle with celebrities at Gjelina
Jay-Z and Beyoncé are American pop-culture royalty, and when they hit town, they often dine at this low-key Venice hotspot—known for its Cal-Italian small plates, charred-edge pizzas and A-list clientele. Dubbed the best place to spot celebrities by Bravo, Gjelina has played host to Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Lady Gaga and even Meghan Markle’s future husband, Prince Harry himself. Added bonus: Gjelina is located in the heart of the Abbot Kinney shopping district—perfect for some after-brunch boutique browsing.
Try authentic fish tacos at Cala
Markle has proclaimed her love for fish tacos, and at Gabriella Camara’s Cala, the Baja classic gets a delicious upgrade. Here, rockfish à la talla is a whole fish, grilled to a perfect flake and served with fresh corn tortillas and a pair of sauces for your taco-assembling pleasure. Add some Dungeness crab tostadas, a mushroom quesadilla and a couple of mezcal margaritas, and you have a modern Mexican meal totally at home in San Francisco.
Indulge in afternoon tea at Hotel Bel-Air
This storied enclave of lush gardens and swan ponds has hosted royalty for decades—of both the official and the Hollywood variety. Princess Grace of Monaco spent so much time at the five-star hotel that it named a suite for her, and Marilyn Monroe famously posed for her final photo shoot among the resort’s graceful grounds. For an experience worthy of both women and befitting a new member of the royal family, stop by for a British(ish) afternoon tea, when Wolfgang Puck’s resident restaurant serves an array of loose-leaf options and Champagne alongside an opulent spread of savoury nibbles, fresh-baked scones and decadent sweets.
Snag a coveted table at The French Laundry
Some of California’s most sought-after tables are in Thomas Keller’s Yountville dining room, where the American chef creates modern French tasting menus that start at $325 per person (wine not included). Provided you can snag one of those tables, of course. The French Laundry is fresh off a $10 million renovation that added luxury upgrades: outdoor seating for large parties (at a premium $400+ per guest), mirrored exterior walls to reflect the natural setting, and windows into the new state-of-the-art kitchen. Today, the Michelin three-star restaurant is as popular as ever, with bookings snapped up months in advance
Sip stealthy cocktails at The Walker Inn
You enter the Normandie Club hotel in L.A.’s Koreatown neighbourhood, walk to the back of the bar and push the button next to the conveniently labelled ‘secret door’. A red bulb clicks on and within seconds you’re whisked inside a covert booze oasis, where denizens sip on expert drinks in the haze of dimmer switches turned almost all the way down. While royals would crave this reprieve from the crowds, you’re here for the cocktails, specifically the bar-side tasting, where six or seven courses may include eye-drop tinctures, smoking beehives or a perfect scoop of apple ice wine ice cream.
Soak in the scenery at Post Ranch Inn
You won’t find TVs or alarm clocks in this serene hideaway, where rooms resemble sophisticated tree houses perched over the ocean. At Post Ranch Inn, the 39 guest suites complement the landscape, and Sierra Mar restaurant is imbued with a sense of place. From the graceful, modern architecture to the locally driven menu, to the Pacific views through soaring windows—all sea and sky and endless horizon—it features one of the best restaurant vistas in the entire state. Whether you’re enjoying a romantic sunset toast, a complimentary breakfast or a four-course dinner, the hotel’s panorama never fails to amaze.
The fashion sense of Meghan Markle has been lauded as ‘California cool’, with an edgy-yet-polished sophistication. No doubt, the L.A. native perfected her aura of casual chic while living in the Golden State. Whether you’re hoping for VIP treatment or simply want to visit Markle’s go-to boutiques, head for these seven shopping destinations—both specific stores and some fashion-rich districts—to cultivate a wardrobe worthy of a royal.
1. Fred Segal, West Hollywood
More than 50 years ago, tailor-turned-designer Fred Segal opened a fashion-forward, blue jeans-centric boutique in a 350-square-foot space in West Hollywood. Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Jackson Five wore Segal’s signature denim back in the day. Even before paparazzi became an L.A. staple, Fred Segal was the place to see and be seen. Today, Segal’s flagship store on Sunset Boulevard remains a celebrity favourite and counts Markle among its fans. The 13,000-square-foot space, which opened in September 2017, features the same shop-within-a-shop concept as its earlier Melrose Avenue location, and offers men’s and women’s clothing and accessories as well as home goods. (There’s also a small branch inside the international terminal at LAX).
2. Upper Village, Montecito
The quiet coastal town of Montecito, right outside Santa Barbara, is an understated haven that counts Oprah Winfrey among its well-heeled residents. The Village attracts shoppers looking to update their wardrobes, thanks to Los Angeles fashion designer Jenni Kayne’s Montecito outpost, long-time favourite Wendy Foster, and Upstairs at Pierre Lafond. Other attractions include flower shop Hogue & Co., William Laman Furniture, Garden, and Antiques, and Tecolote Bookshop, which opened in 1925. After an afternoon of browsing, stop by Pierre LaFond Montecito Market, a popular gourmet grocer, and the adjacent Wine Bistro, owned by LaFond and the Lafond Winery & Vineyards.
3. Fashion Island, Newport Beach
For more than four decades, Orange County residents have flocked to Fashion Island, an open-air shopping and dining destination in Newport Beach. Department stores Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus—which carries Markle favourite Veronica Beard—share space with more than 200 specialty stores, including Alice + Olivia, Kendra Scott and AG. Insider tip: Personal shopping and styling services are available by request, as is the shopping centre’s virtual concierge program, At Your Service. Simply text 949-734-7364 to ask a question such as "Where can I valet?" or "Where is Restoration Hardware?”.
4. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills
In the late sixties, Fred Hayman and Aldo Gucci opened two of the first luxury boutiques on Rodeo Drive, kickstarting the rapid development of the world-famous three-block stretch. Van Cleef & Arpels quickly followed, as did Vidal Sassoon. Then, in 1990, Julia Roberts’ character Vivian Ward charged her way through the street’s high-end boutiques in the smash hit Pretty Woman, and a new generation of Rodeo Drive devotees was born. Today, popular destinations include Chanel, Tiffany & Co. and Yves Saint Laurent. Personal shoppers are available in-store and can help secure access to private lounges at Burberry, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and more.
5. St. Helena, Napa Valley
The tiny enclave, St. Helena, oozes with small-town charm while boasting luxury hotels, boutique wineries and charming independent retailers. Head to Main Street, where you’ll find breezy California clothing at Gathered St. Helena, contemporary women’s apparel at Pearl Wonderful Clothing and shoes and handbags at Footcandy. For a taste of what life might be like at Kensington Palace, visit the prestigious Culinary Institute of America’s facility at Greystone, a 117,000-square-foot Romanesque-style stone building built in the late 19th century and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
6. El Paseo, Palm Desert
Since the 1950s, Coachella Valley residents and visitors in need of some retail therapy have converged on El Paseo Drive, which runs parallel to State Route 111 in Palm Desert and is flanked by towering palms. Today, El Paseo features 150 boutiques, restaurants and galleries and is considered the Rodeo Drive of the desert. The Gardens on El Paseo and El Paseo Village are anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and feature a mix of high-end occupants, such as Louis Vuitton and Tesla. Los Angeles designer Trina Turk, who owns a home in the desert, has a store on El Paseo. So do mother-daughter duo Marie and Kelly Gray, who were the creator and face of St. John, respectively, before collaborating on their line of separates, Grayse, and its three stores. On-trend indie boutique Elizabeth & Prince is filled with pieces by today’s top ready-to-wear designers and has two other locations in the desert.
7. Prospect & Girard, La Jolla
La Jolla is considered the jewel of San Diego thanks to its majestic coastline, ocean bluffs and pristine beaches. Downtown La Jolla’s two main thoroughfares, Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, feature high-end shops such as Ralph Lauren, Ascot Shop, Kate Spade New York and an athleisure favourite of Markle’s, Lululemon. For nearly 15 years, stylist Laura Gambucci’s eponymous boutique has offered timeless collections by top designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld and Pierre Balmain. Also noteworthy: Beginning in February of 2019, tired shoppers and royal-wedding enthusiasts can head to the nearby La Jolla Playhouse to watch Diana, a new musical set in 1981 that’s centred around 20-year-old Princess Diana’s life before and after her wedding to Prince Charles.
8. South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa
There are more than 250 high-fashion retailers at South Coast Plaza, the largest mall on the West Coast. Under its roof in Costa Mesa, upscale boutiques join top designers like Christian Dior, Gucci, Fendi and Jimmy Choo (the latter of which recently re-launched a princess-perfect made-to-order Cinderella shoe). The expansive shopping centre offers international traveller-friendly amenities such as foreign language assistance in more than 40 languages and a visitors-only VIP Passport for deals at more than 100 stores. Take advantage of the South Coast Plaza Concierge to help reserve tickets at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, schedule a personal wardrobe consultation or book reservations at one of the 30-plus gourmet restaurants (we recommend the authentic Spanish dishes Vaca, led by former Top Chef runner-up Amar Santana).