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Luxury Oceanfront Hotels

From Mediterranean-style resorts to Craftsman-inspired hideaways, California’s luxurious oceanfront hotels offer an incredible range of ways to spend the night in style. There’s the scenery, of course, with spots along the North Coast overlooking rugged, hidden coves, while hotels in Southern California let you wake up to views of sand, surfers, and dolphins. Add posh spas and fine dining, plus pools, classes, golf courses, and other hotel amenities, and you’ve got lodgings as spectacular as their settings.

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Dave Lauridsen


San Diego County on a map of California
Explore the Del and get a dose of small-town charm

Like an island getaway a stone’s throw from the city, the appealing island community of Coronado feels like a private enclave wrapped with perfect beaches, including ultra-family-friendly Coronado Beach. Besides those soft sands, the island’s crown jewel is the Hotel Del Coronado, built in 1888 and topped by russet red, castle-like turrets. Explore the lobby and grounds on your own, or join a guided tour offered by the Coronado Historical Association; docents share tidbits on the Del’s remarkable history and guest list (including Marilyn Monroe, who starred—alongside the hotel—in the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot). The Del also serves a sumptuous Sunday brunch, and the Babcock & Story bar is fine for sipping a craft beer with views of the Pacific. Not far from the Del, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort sits on its own 15-acre peninsula and is known both for its water sports and for being especially dog-friendly.

The diminutive island, reached by the arching Coronado Bridge, is easy to explore by bike. Rent one from Holland’s Bicycles to pedal past elegant oceanfront mansions and tended gardens, or visit Orange Avenue, lined with shops, restaurants, galleries, and theatres. More shops and art galleries are located at Ferry Landing, and restaurants like Il Fornaio Coronado and Peohe’s have expansive views of San Diego’s downtown skyline across San Diego Bay.

Travel tip: Traffic on the San Diego-Coronado Bridge can get thick, especially on summer weekends. Flagship Cruises will ferry you from Ferry Landing, across the Bay to the Embarcadero. Water taxis are available too.

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Kodiak Greenwood

Luxury Lodging in Big Sur

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Luxury Lodging in Big Sur
Spend the night in spellbinding surroundings with boundless views

While Big Sur is all about nature, that doesn’t mean you have to rough it when you visit. In fact, the region boasts some of the state’s most celebrated accommodation, with ultra-luxurious rooms, top-notch spas and facilities, and unforgettable dining experiences. At Post Ranch Inn, suites and private houses are miraculously sculpted into the cliffs, and enormous picture windows provide unparalleled views of sea and sky. (If you like to whale-watch from your bed, you’ve found your dream destination.) There’s even a luxury car available for guests who need local wheels, and a shuttle that cruises you around the Big Sur coast.

"At Post Ranch Inn, suites and private houses are miraculously sculpted into the cliffs"

On the opposite (inland) side of Highway 1, there’s Ventana Big Sur, a redwood-shaded paradise where outdoor Japanese-style soaking tubs and big decks give suites a breezy, natural feel; or book a room with a fireplace for extra cosy comfort on foggy nights. The resort’s most recent addition is the Redwood Canyon Glampsites where you can glamp in a furnished tent under a canopy of redwoods. Dining here is also excellent, with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients provided by local farms. Here, and at Post Ranch, you can dine or book a spa treatment even if you’re not a guest—a nice way to spoil yourself without breaking the bank. 

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Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara

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Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara
The romance of the American Riviera

With luxurious rooms in Spanish Colonial buildings and views of the Channel Islands, the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara epitomizes the grace and beauty of the American Riviera.

This is paradise, California-style: Walk along pathways through 22 acres of lush grounds of stately oaks, flowers, and swaying palm trees. Soak up some sun by the pool at the resort’s art deco Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club, and catch vivid sunsets while strolling Butterfly Beach.

The Biltmore’s vintage 1920s architecture is mighty impressive, too. In the lobby, you will find historic tile details, wood-beamed ceilings, and graceful archways that bring alive the romance of Old Santa Barbara. The fresco behind the main desk even depicts the 16th-century legend that California was an island. The restaurants and lounges all embrace Santa Barbara’s indoor-outdoor elegance, from the organic, Italian cuisine of Bella Vista, which faces Butterfly Beach, to Ty’s Lounge, with a fire pit on its oceanfront terrace and hand-blown-glass chandeliers inside.

The 207 rooms feature down duvets, rain showers, deep soaking tubs and the vibe of a refined bungalow. The accommodations also include actual bungalows, like the Anacapa Suite, with its own plunge pool, fire pit, and private driveway, plus views of Butterfly Beach and the Pacific. The Spa, meanwhile, features rooms with their own ocean views, and treatments employing sustainable botanicals, hydro-peptide facials, and even rose-quartz-gemstone therapy.

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Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
Coastal elegance and unhurried grace

An hour’s drive south of San Francisco but a world away, the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is one of California’s ultimate oceanfront escapes. This is laid-back luxury in all its glory, with stylish rooms overlooking secluded coves. Trails lace the property, so you can stretch your legs a bit getting delightfully pampered at the onsite head-to-toe spa. Golfers can test their game on the resort’s Ocean Course, with blue Pacific views from every hole. More nice touches include private fire pits, the pretty-much-perfect place to watch the sun go down, or to scan the horizon for migrating whales.

The resort’s signature restaurant, Navio, incorporates local produce in such sea-to-table specialties as a roasted local black cod. At Cork Wine Bar, sip sommelier-selected flights of California vintages, plus artisanal cheeses and chocolates. 

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The Lodge at Pebble Beach

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The Lodge at Pebble Beach
Stay at this historic coastal classic and play on its iconic golf course

Stately and elegant, the historic Lodge at Pebble Beach offers an incomparable setting next to one of golf’s fabled landmarks: the oceanfront 18th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Things feel pretty special when you get a wood-burning fireplace in your room, and stunning ocean views out your picture windows. Tear yourself away long enough to get pampered at The Spa at Pebble Beach, where treatments incorporate ingredients made with native plants from the Monterey Peninsula. Dine on wood-fired specialties while watching golfers finish up their rounds from the terrace at The Bench. Stillwater Bar & Grill also has a view of the 18th and a fresh shellfish bar. For another prime view, book one of the oversized rooms or the Palmer and Eastwood cottages that are part of the resort’s Fairway One at the Lodge, overlooking the first fairway of the course.

Securing a tee time will cost you—rates start around $550, depending on season—but play a round and unique charms will reveal themselves. One example: Although the seventh hole is just 106 yards, among the shortest in the sport, it’s also one of golf’s most iconic locations. Perched on a cliff overlooking the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful fairway backdrop. It’s a big reason why the course always seems to find its way onto lists of top public golf courses.

Hotel guests get special booking privileges at other fabled Monterey Peninsula courses including Spyglass Hill and the Links at Spanish Bay, where golf legends like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods won U.S. Open titles, and site of the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, with top golfers and surprisingly good celebrity duffers matching up for entertaining rounds each February.

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Suzi Rosenberg/Flickr

Little River Inn

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Little River Inn
Victorian romance by the sea

Overlooking a rocky cove, the Little River Inn has been a go-to spot for secluded getaways along Mendocino County coast since 1939. About a 3½-hour drive north of San Francisco, the graceful Little River Inn makes a worth-it stop even if you’re just passing by. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel romantic here—the resort’s 225 acres/91 hectares of forests and gardens are braided with hushed paths, and vistas open up to never-ending ocean views.  

But if you’re lucky enough to book a room here, you can choose from seaside rooms, with whirlpool baths and cozy fireplaces. Bring binoculars if you reserve an ocean-view room—your private veranda makes a perfect perch for whale watching (and sunsets). Indulge at the inn’s on-site spa with seaweed body scrub. Golfers can play at the inn’s challenging course, the only one along the Mendocino Coast. For wilder adventures, arrange to go ocean kayaking, or stroll along driftwood-strewn Van Damme State Beach, adjacent to the inn’s property. The 1853-era main building houses the inn’s restaurant, which is known for outstanding fresh seafood (naturally in a location like this); ask for pairings with local wines.

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Adam Baker/Flickr

Ventana Big Sur

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Ventana Big Sur
Soulful elegance in Big Sur

Edge-of-the-earth views across the Pacific, wood and stone details bringing nature right into your room—Ventana Big Sur (formerly Ventana Inn & Spa) is a place not just to relax, but to fill your spirit too. Surrounded by 243 acres of lush forests, this resort almost feels like a secret enclave in the woods, and its wood and stone details enhance that nature-all-around-you ambience, leaving you to wonder what smells more amazing: the ocean breeze, or your morning coffee.

Its 59 refurbished rooms (including two guest houses) are tucked into the hillsides—many with mountain or ocean views from private balconies or patios—and equipped with soaking tubs, fireplaces, and winsome amenities like walking sticks or lanterns to take outside while you explore.  

To immerse yourself even more in the scenery, choose one of the 15 safari tents in Ventana’s 20-acre canyon, which are part of the resort’s new glamping program. Mind you, this is not “roughing it”: the cabin-esque tents come outfitted with plush mattresses and bedding, daily housekeeping service (including nightly turndown service); and access to a spa-worthy Bath House with teak-enclosed showers, heated floors, and marble vanities.

Whichever kind of accommodation you choose, hang out with other guests at the resort’s Social House, with a library/music room, game room, and bar room, as well as a fire-pit-centered patio. Stick around for dinner, too: the resort’s Sur House restaurant offers up a Central-Coast-style menu that combines Pacific-sourced seafood, local produce and free-range meats. 

Daily activities feature creative spins on traditional resort fare: Choose from options such as photography hikes, beekeeping classes, charcoal sketching, and drum circles—or foodie indulgences like a cooking lesson and lunch with the resort’s chef, or the Sip Like a Sommelier class highlighting local wines.

Or just head to the spa, where enticements include a stone massage using local Big Sur jade or a Javanese coffee scrub. Bliss out in one of the outdoor cabanas overlooking the redwood forest, paddle around the two outdoor pools, or soak in the Japanese-style hot bath. Don’t miss the daily, free guided walks around the resort’s grounds: Look out over the water for humpback whales or dolphins, and keep an eye out amongst the redwoods for brush rabbits, bats, or California condors flying overhead.

Insider tip: Browse exquisite ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by leading Big Sur artists and artisans in the resort’s Glass House Gallery.


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David Lauridsen

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

The Lodge at Torrey Pines
A Craftsman haven by the sea

How often do you get a chance to spend the night in an architectural masterpiece? The Lodge at Torrey Pines, a coastal stunner in La Jolla, not only lets you be pampered like royalty (and who doesn’t relish that?), but also offers a close-up look at extraordinary craftsmanship.

Enter through stained-glass doors depicting a rare Torrey pine and step into a lobby of intricate wood details and furnishings that carry the Craftsman ideal into the present. Though the lodge was completed in 2002, its rarefied details look every bit like an Arts & Crafts masterpiece from the early 1900s.

You’ll be head-spinning constantly to see all the stunning elements, all echoing the Lodge’s remarkable waterfront setting. Refined details fill every corner, even the spa: Check out the intricate mosaic floors at the entrance and dramatic fireplaces in the lounge areas. Try the Ancient Oceans Ritual treatment, which includes a warm body wrap scented with lavender, sandalwood, and sage. Or, head outside and breathe in the scent of the area’s feathery evergreen trees while hiking the trails of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, which neighbors the hotel.

Dress up to dine on farm-to-table cuisine at A.R. Valentien restaurant, named after the early-20th-century California artist whose Impressionist artwork fills the walls. Try one of the seasonal tasting menus, with locally sourced delights like halibut carpaccio, ricotta-and-lemon-stuffed squash blossoms, or stone fruit Melba.

Or, dine at The Grill, with its firepit-lined patio overlooking the oceanfront Torrey Pines Golf Course (whose famed South Course hosted the 2008 U.S. Open). While The Grill has long been known for its decadent Drugstore Hamburger, this is not just a 19th-hole spot: Try the salad topped with oak-gilled tri-tip, and you’ll see why the focal point of the place is its wood-fired grill, a homage to California’s Santa Maria–style barbecue; the rest of the menu focuses on locally sourced produce and seafood from Southern California and Baja. “The cooking at The Lodge, like the architecture, is based upon sound classical principles of craftsmanship,” says the Grill’s executive chef Jeff Jackson. “California has a rich culinary history and we have borrowed from its cultures to create a menu that we feel is a true, classic California experience.”

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The Lodge at Torrey Pines: California Luxury Minute Resorts
Find out why Golf Digest named The Lodge at Torrey Pines in San Diego County one of the best resorts in America. The Luxury Minute video series showcases California’s most opulent resorts and hotels in 60 seconds.
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Malibu Beach Inn

Malibu Beach Inn
Do the ‘Bu in style

On a stretch of coast known as “Billionaire’s Beach,” the Malibu Beach Inn is definitely in a high-rent neighborhood. Splurge on one of the oceanfront rooms, relax on your balcony, and see who comes out to play in one of the most expensive sandboxes anywhere—Carbon Beach—where homeowners include Oracle’s Larry Ellison and DreamWork’s Jeffery Katzenburg. When you’re done people watching, shift your gaze to take in the Malibu Pier, and perhaps some passing dolphins and pelicans, too. Beyond the pier, surfers catch the perfect waves at Surfrider Beach, one of the world’s most famous breaks. A darn good view, especially considering you’re still in your bathrobe.

Malibu awaits and Santa Monica is just 20 minutes away, but not before you head downstairs for breakfast on an oceanfront terrace just above the waves. Loosen up with private yoga and Pilates classes on the beach. Do some shopping in the Malibu Country Mart—another great place to look for celebs—then return to the inn’s Carbon Beach Club for ginger margaritas or fresh basil juleps.

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Courtesy of Shutters on the Beach

Shutters on the Beach

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Shutters on the Beach
Laid-back luxury steps from Santa Monica Pier

Even if you don’t have a wealthy uncle with a rambling oceanfront house, Shutters on the Beach lets you live like you do. Combining a Cape Cod-inspired design with an impeccable Santa Monica setting, Shutters has a casual vibe, even while delivering luxuries that draw Hollywood stars.

The sun pours through the big windows, washing over homey yet elegant rooms created by star designer Michael S. Smith. Stuffy it’s not: There’s a peek-a-boo window between the bedroom and the bathroom, with its jetted tub complete with one of the hotel’s signature rubber whale toys.

Head to One the Spa for an ocean-inspired healing treatment that includes a sea-salt exfoliation and a hydrating sea algae masque. After that, there’s always room service. But the pairing of sunset views and such favourites as the Skuna Bay salmon at the hotel’s One Pico restaurant just might lure you out again.

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Queen Mary

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Queen Mary
Long Beach’s legendary ocean liner gleams with Art Deco splendor and Old World sophistication

Pay homage to the rich heritage of trans-Atlantic travel with a visit to the Queen Mary, a luxurious passenger ship that made the Titanic seem like a bathtub toy. At 1,019 feet long and 81,000 tons (310 meters and 73,500 metric tons), the Queen Mary was one of the largest and most elegant ships of the early 20th century. The ocean liner made 1,001 crossings between New York and England beginning in 1936. Now permanently stationed in Long Beach, the Queen Mary is not just a floating museum—the ship also offers top-notch dining, dazzling city skyline views, overnight accommodations in original first-class staterooms, and a full calendar of performances and events.

You can explore some parts of the iconic vessel on your own, but guided tours offer a more in-depth experience. The Glory Days tour delves into the ship’s construction and her time in military service during World War II. The Haunted Encounters tour reveals why the Queen Mary made Time magazine’s “Top 10 Most Haunted Places in America” list.

While onboard, be sure to enjoy a meal in one of the Queen Mary’s three award-winning restaurants. Sip a chic cocktail while you savor the sunset view from the Observation Bar (formerly the ship’s first-class lounge) or spoon up a bowl of chowder at the Chelsea Chowder House & Bar. For a luxurious evening, enjoy five-star dining, unmatched service, and an extensive wine list at Sir Winston’s Restaurant & Lounge. At the Royal Sunday Brunch, champagne flows freely and banquet tables overflow with 50 unique dishes from around the globe. This weekly feast has been featured on the Travel Channel and lauded in Condé Nast Traveler.

For a uniquely nautical experience, spend the night aboard the Queen Mary in one of the ship’s 346 original staterooms and suites. Choose a stateroom on one of the three decks (all above sea level). No two rooms are alike, but many have Art Deco–style built-in cabinets, original wood paneling, and artwork.

Throughout the year, the Queen Mary’ssocial calendar overflows with performances and events, from comedy nights to wine-tasting dinners to local live music performances. One of the biggest annual parties is the ScotsFestival and International Highland Games held in February, which celebrates the big boat’s heritage—it was built in Clydebank, Scotland—with traditional Highland dancing, piping, drumming, Celtic harp concerts, and even falconry and sheepherding demonstrations.

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Fortune Live Media/Flickr

Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Mediterranean splendor in The O.C.

Set like a wedding cake on cliffs high above crashing Pacific waves, this snow-white, Mediterranean-style Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point is the kind of place where you load up on flowing cotton resort wear so you can look and feel as beautiful as your surroundings. Every view from this Orange County property looks movie-set perfect, every garden perfectly tended, every staff person smiling. Admittedly, it’s pretty easy to smile here. Private balconies off the suites let you take in sweeping ocean views, while marble bathrooms and plush beds definitely make you feel spoiled. (Even the views from the immaculate onsite Fitness Center are stunning!)

But with a long stretch of beach fronting the hotel, tennis courts, and two outdoor pools, it’s tough to stay inside for very long. Ever wanted to surf? This is the place: the O.C.’s world-class waves are right in front of you, and lessons with local instructors will get you out on the waves no matter what your experience level is. The hotel’s Eco-Adventure Center is dedicated to helping guests get the most from everything the spectacular setting has to offer. Book such activities as stand-up paddle boarding in Dana Point Harbor, beach banzai body boarding, or a garden tour to learn about local flora and fauna and sustainable gardening practices. Seaside hikes along the windswept oceanfront trails, led by a marine biologist or naturalist from the center, can enhance an already exhilarating outdoor experience with an educational element as you learn about tide pools and whales.

Afterward, indulge in a sea-inspired treatment at the spa, or spend a day on the links: no fewer than five world-class golf courses are located nearby, including Monarch Beach Golf Links, which is among the few ocean courses in Southern California.

Dine on Pan-Latin coastal cuisine at Raya, celebrated chef Richard Sandoval’s oceanfront restaurant. Or duck into clubby Enosteak for succulent basted lamb chops and other meats sourced from California farms. And of course, this being Southern California, poolside dining is often an option; do it here in style at The Dana Pool Café.

With bluffside ceremony locations and elegant ballrooms, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel also makes for an exceptional destination wedding location.  

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The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel: California Luxury Minute Resorts
See why Travel + Leisure named The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Orange County one of America's best beach hotels. The Luxury Minute video series showcases California’s most opulent resorts and hotels in 60 seconds.
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Torbak Hopper/Flickr

Pacifica Beach Hotel

Pacifica Beach Hotel
An urban paradise getaway

Across from a wild stretch of beach just south of San Francisco, Pacifica Beach Hotel blends natural beauty with easy access to urban attractions. Step out onto your balcony for spectacular coastal views, and go exploring on Linda Mar Beach, a prime surfing spot. Ask for tips on local hikes or bike routes, then return to your suite to slip into a private whirlpool tub. The hotel also has an indoor pool, a nice plus given that summertime fog can keep temperatures on the cool side, and swimming in the chilly Pacific typically requires a wetsuit. Come dinnertime, sample exotic flavors of Peru, including seven kinds of ceviche and chupe de mariscos (a seafood and shellfish chowder), at Puerto 27, the hotel’s on-site restaurant.

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Elk Cove Inn & Spa

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Elk Cove Inn & Spa
Slip away to a North Coast retreat

Along a dramatic stretch of coast 150 miles/241km north of San Francisco, the Elk Cove Inn is a getaway for people who truly want to exactly that: to get away. This tucked-away bed-and-breakfast in the tiny town of Elk (population 200, plus or minus the pets) is known for its appealing combo of luxury and remoteness. Take your pick of rooms in the 1883 main house atop a bluff, or check into a “spa suite” done in classy Arts and Crafts style, with a balcony for taking in the view and sea breeze. Oceanfront cottages boast cathedral ceilings and picture windows.

Start the day with a hearty champagne breakfast, then look for sea otters and migrating gray whales from a bluff-top gazebo, or walk down to a wind-sheltered cove and Greenwood State Beach. Then enjoy massages at the inn’s day spa, complete with an aromatherapy steam shower and sauna. When the day starts to wind down, you can too, with complimentary wine and make-your-own cocktails.

Montage Laguna Beach
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Montage Laguna Beach

Montage Laguna Beach
Craftsman grace and timeless coastal beauty

With works by noted California artists in the lobby and guest rooms and a classic wood-and-stone Craftsman design, the ultra-luxurious oceanfront Montage Laguna Beach celebrates the Orange County town’s long tradition as an arts colony.

Pacific breezes wash through a sun-splashed lobby, where a balcony takes in views of bluff-top gardens, secluded coves, and Santa Catalina Island in the distance. That’s the same view you’ll enjoy from airy rooms—as pretty and inviting as a summer beach house.

Then again, even the most lavish beach house doesn’t have a spa offering caviar facials to Spa Montage, a 20,000-square-foot retreat featuring dry redwood saunas, fireplace lounges, and an ocean-view lap pool, in addition to its personalized skin and body treatments. While parents indulge, kids can hang at the supervised Paintbox kids club—which offers crafts, games, tidepooling, and swimming—for a few hours or a full day.

The resort’s wellness offerings fit the setting as well, from Beach Boot Camp and Pilates to SurfSET, a class that utilizes real surfing techniques to build balance and strength (classes are complimentary to guests). Popular local studio Ritual Yoga also offers a variety of practices for an added fee. Get the whole family out on a hike along the resort’s trails or a try a paddleboarding or kayaking excursion. You can also make use of the resort photographer and take home a holiday-card-ready pics of you and your crew.

Things stay luxurious with California-inspired contemporary French cuisine and modern Craftsman-style beach cottage design at Studio, the Montage’s signature restaurant. The more casual Loft Bar offers panoramic Pacific views with all-day dining menus that include everything from cold-pressed detox juice to a cheese bar with more than 50(!) selections. If you prefer to stay poolside, order seafood tacos, sizeable salads, or a Frosé All Day cocktail from Mosaic Bar and Grille.

Learn more about luxury lodgings across the state on the California Now Podcast.

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Shorebreak Hotel

Shorebreak Hotel
Hip boutique digs in Surf City, USA

With views of broad sands and waves breaking along the landmark Huntington Beach Pier, Shorebreak Hotel finds inspiration in its incredible oceanfront setting—which happens to be one the world’s most iconic surf destinations too. Here, you can check out the Huntington Beach scene, across the legendary “PCH” (Pacific Coast Highway). Surf-themed art decorates guest rooms and the contemporary lobby, which also sports wood accents reminiscent of driftwood. Grasses and succulents fill the outdoor court and garden, bringing the feeling of the beach right onto the hotel property. If you want to head out and explore, one of the hotel’s “beach butlers” can get you bikes, surfboards, or even a kite to fly above the sand.

At night, walk to restaurants on nearby Main Street, or, just hang at the hotel. With private fire pits and locally sourced California cuisine at Zimzala Restaurant, Shorebreak is a pretty undeniably special place to be.

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Joe Wolf/Flickr

Crystal Pier Hotel

Crystal Pier Hotel
Sleep above the waves in San Diego

Lining a vintage wooden pier built in 1927, the clapboard cottages at Crystal Pier Hotel are as close as you can get to the Pacific without needing gills.

Lots of places tout an oceanfront setting, but these 1930-vintage cottages go one better: They’re actually perched right above it—atop the Crystal Pier. Not only will you see and smell the ocean, you’ll feel it too, especially when the surf is up and the waves surge toward shore underneath the pier. Exciting stuff.

Each cottage is decorated with wood floors and equipped with a kitchenette, while a small semi-private patio lets you catch some sun and take in spectacular views. Hole up here on a stormy weekend for a bit of wintry romance, or book ahead for a summer stay, when the cottages offer easy access to but also an escape from the busy Pacific Beach scene.

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Courtesy of Monarch Beach Resort

Monarch Beach Resort

Monarch Beach Resort
Relaxed sophistication in charming Dana Point

Beyond the Mediterranean–style exterior of this perfectly manicured resort, you’ll find posh but not ornate contemporary rooms and suites. This AAA Five Diamond–rated resort is all about casual elegance—if you like casual with a side of truly decadent pampering. Think rainfall showers and oversized tubs, private cabanas next to the turquoise swimming pool, and a secluded beach where you can sign up for surf lessons. If your kids are in tow, they’ll love Monarch’s customized activity program, perfect for ages 5–12.

Sign up for a tee time to play on the resort’s acclaimed links-style golf course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. At the resort’s Miraval Life in Balance Spa, try an aerial yoga class, relax in the sauna, or calm your body with a hydrating wrap using mineral-rich sea algae. Planning a night out? Schedule a blowout at the on-site Drybar.

The resort’s collection of seven restaurants gives you options to sample the freshest farm-to-table California cuisine—often with ocean views. Keep the luxury pushed to the max with dinner at celebrity chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak, where he serves his signature dry-aged prime steaks and seasonal fare, with elaborate tableside presentations for dishes such as Broiled Tai Snapper and Maine Lobster Pot Pie. Gaze at the ocean while you enjoy Mediterranean dishes at AVEO Table + Bar or from the outdoor patio of 33º North. Finish your evenings with a sunset cocktail at Monarch Bay Club, just steps from the beach.

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Monarch Beach Resort: California Luxury Minute Resorts
Find out why Vogue calls the spa at the Monarch Beach Resort in Orange County "a crown jewel." The Luxury Minute video series showcases California’s most opulent resorts and hotels in 60 seconds.
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Courtesy The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

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The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
Bliss out just west of Santa Barbara

If the idea of ocean waves and a majestic sunset outside your window sounds good, this compound of glistening white villas on a bluff west of Santa Barbara might be your piece of vacation heaven. Situated on 78 acres along the Gaviota Coast, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara takes advantage of its oceanfront setting to deliver “we’ll take care of everything” indulgence—ranging from cushy banquettes around fire pits to bespoke treatments offered at the onsite spa.

Bacara has all the amenities you’d expect at a five-star resort. Wake up in your guest room and have coffee on your private balcony. Stay in one of Bacara’s Signature Suites and shake or stir a martini at your own wet bar, then sink into a plush chair on your private terrace to watch dolphins swim by.

If there’s anything that will tempt you out of your room, it’s great food and wine in a beautiful setting. Options range from flip-flops-are-fine cafés to Angel Oak, a traditional steakhouse with ocean views. The menu, overseen by Chef Alexander Bollinger, features delicious filets as well as elaborate seafood appetizers, like the Market Seafood Tower—an indulgent collection of Maine lobster, oysters, crab legs, shrimp, and caviar.

Bacara has an outstanding—and enormous—wine cellar, with more than 12,000 bottles representing 1,200 labels from 75 international appellations and 13 countries. Local wines get big play here, plus there’s an onsite tasting room (open to day-trippers as well as resort guests) for Foley Family Wines, featuring vintages from Kuleto, Lancaster, Sebastiani, and Chalk Hill Estate.

After all this decadence, consider booking a private tennis lesson, painting class, or sailing excursion. Or consider taking a yoga or spin class at the 24-hour fitness center. Sandpiper Golf Club is next door, and of course there’s the beach, where you can take a surfing lesson or just grab a boogie board and jump in (be forewarned—ocean temps are chilly here, even in summer). 

To round out your stay, why not end with a massage on the rooftop terrace, followed by a Bacara Bar Lemonade (cucumber vodka, lemonade, and soda). It is vacation, after all. 

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Courtesy of Terranea Resort

Terranea Resort

Terranea Resort
Just south of Los Angeles, this cliffside retreat is a remote sanctuary with breathtaking views and a farm-to-table focus

When you arrive at Terranea Resort, you’re greeted with a glass of bubbly and jaw-dropping views of the Pacific. The warm welcome sets the tone for your stay at the five-star Rancho Palo Verdes resort, where the ocean plays an integral part—from the stunning restaurant views and spa treatments to the water activities and unique culinary program.

Located just south of Los Angeles, this Mediterranean-style oasis sprawls across 102 acres on the secluded Palos Verdes Peninsula. The resort offers 582 elegant guestrooms and suites—including 20 oceanfront bungalows, 50 ocean-view casitas, and 32 villas—as well as eight restaurants, four pools, and a 50,000-square-foot spa. There’s even a private cove and beach.

Start your day with a yoga or spin class in the ocean-view exercise studio, where you might catch a glimpse of Catalina Island in the distance. Refuel with a sprouted avocado toast or acai bowl at the spa café before recovering with a Revitalizing Marine Massage or Volcanic Clay Wrap at The Spa at Terranea.

The activity concierge can help you create a custom itinerary for your stay, whether that includes a naturalist-guided hike on the resort’s trails or a kayaking, stand-up paddleboard, or surfing experience right from the cove. Golfers will want to play a round on the nine-hole oceanfront course, a collection of par-three holes.

While Terranea offers the perfect setting for a romantic getaway, it’s also an extremely family-friendly destination. The resort goes beyond just allowing young ones—it readily caters to them with healthy kids’ menus, water slides, and adventure day camps where they can explore tide pools or learn about the resort’s falconer program.

A point of distinction for Terranea is its thoughtful culinary program. An on-site garden supplies much of the produce for its eight restaurants, and honey from its four nearby beehives is used in pastries, candies, and salad dressings. Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra also opened a Sea Salt Conservatory in 2015 to harvest ocean water into high-quality sea salt in a natural evaporation greenhouse. You can learn about the harvesting process in a Saturday morning Sea Salt Workshop or sign up for the Land to Sea Culinary Immersion Package—a three-day program that includes a farm tour, cooking demos, chef’s table dinners, and wine tasting. At the least, take home Terranea sea salt from the gift shop, available as pure or infused with such as rosemary and Meyer lemon.

End a perfect day at Terranea with a cocktail by the fire—there are 200 fire pits throughout the property—or a custom gelato cookie sandwich at Sea Beans. Or why not just try both?

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Signature Moments: Sunrise to Moonrise
The unspoiled beauty of Terranea Resort is explored in this scenic, spiritual journey beginning at sunrise and ending at moonrise.
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Signature Moments: The Falconer
Follow along in a day of the life of Terranea’s resident falconer, Joe Roy III, as he shares his passion for his birds of prey and their vital importance at Terranea.
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Terranea: California Luxury Minute Resorts
Find out why U.S. News & World Report named Terranea in Los Angeles County the top destination resort. The Luxury Minute video series showcases California’s most opulent resorts and hotels in 60 seconds.