Feel that itch? It's your annual, all-weather wanderlust stirring.
Whether you're looking for a relaxing getaway, a rugged outdoor adventure, or an epic road trip, we've got you covered with literally dozens of great escapes right here in California.
You come up with an excuse to get out of dodge, and we'll tell you how to do it right with all the oysters and local wines, epic hikes, sunset horseback rides, art excursions, and splurge-worthy eats you can handle.
The Inn at Newport Ranch (Mendocino)
Courtesy of the Inn at Newport Ranch
Imagine standing on a dramatic coastal bluff, cliff crumbling away rock by rock, ocean crashing beneath you, a thick fog obscuring the horizon, the sun, and, frankly any notion that a trip to the British Isles was required for such breathtaking surroundings. You only need to travel to the Inn at Newport Ranch in Mendocino County for this kind of Emily Brontë-inspired scene. The 2,000-acre ranch—which stretches about a mile of Wuthering Heights-ish coast and goes about three miles inland, encompassing mountainous terrain good for hiking and 4WD'ing—is a modern Craftsman inn, built in the style of a cozy mountain cabin with handsome wood-paneled walls and large stone fireplaces. Bunk in the Captain's Quarters for the charming nautical trappings and its generous ocean-facing windows. From your room, you can see a simple network of trails that will take you to various viewing points along the bluff, furnished with tables and chairs built from salvaged wood. Take a small picnic (the full ranch breakfast will keep you satiated for most of the day) and a board game, saunter to your to your preferred perch, and spend a couple hours at the threshold of the ocean—an act of wellness guaranteed to correct any self-important tendencies. Nature, man. It's large and in charge here at the Inn at Newport Ranch. Need more proof? Head to the ranch for a winter weekender and hope for a storm. Batten down the hatches!
Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)
The Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
(Iwan Baan, Courtesy of The Broad)
For glam and sunshine, there's no better place to escape than to La La Land, even if the city's It spot these days may not be what you'd expect. The once-seedy downtown (now known as DTLA) is buzzing with trendy restaurants, cutting-edge art galleries and museums, and concept retail shops. A must for culture and design junkies, the area has plenty of gorg stays. For where to check in, make reservations, and drink with the cool kids, check out our Modern Guide to DTLA.
Culture vultures looking to more deeply immerse themselves in the area's arts scene can't miss the neighboring Arts District—think SF's Dogpatch with industrial buildings and warehouses-turned-galleries, creative spaces, loft homes, and hip cafes...and pie.
Alisal Ranch, Solvang
(Courtesy of @alisalguestranch)
Seeking an outdoor getaway but with plenty of creature comforts? Situated 40 miles north of Santa Barbara, Alisal Ranch is a dude ranch for the wellness-minded era. Ride or hike along 10,000 acres of trails or try activities including archery and air-rifle target practice. But when you're finished playing cowgirl all day, you can head to the spa for some legit pampering (try the 60-minute Cowboy Cure with exfoliation, detoxifying mud and massage) and then pop over to the dining rooms to nosh on plant-based fare (full breakfast and dinner are included with your stay), bottomless chips and guac, and listen to live music. When you're ready to turn in, your ultra-cozy room has its own wood-burning fireplace. Get all the details here.
The Lone Cypress, on 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.
(Courtesy of californiabeaches.com)
The Monterey Peninsula—comprising the city of Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and beyond—is a tourist haven for a reason: Endless outdoor adventures and artisanal eats are the draw, but unique shops and plush hotels make every stay luxurious. Wander the beaches, see the Lone Cypress, gawk at an antique car show, and taste regional wines and chef-driven fare. Check out our guide for the best restaurants, most gorgeous sights, and where to stay.
Santa Barbara life is geared outdoors—and with good reason, as witnessed here at the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club.
Whether you hop the one-hour flight or decide to drive, sunny Santa Barbara, perched between the sea and the mountains, is within easy reach of the Bay Area. This is an ideal destination for outdoor lovers—hiking, kayaking, surfing, and sunbathing spots abound—as well as for foodies and shopaholics. While everyone will appreciate SB's classic Spanish architecture (think tiled courtyards and whitewashed buildings), the wine tasting rooms, cool restaurants and vintage-y boutiques of the Funk Zone give millennials a reason to visit. See what's new in Santa Barbara in our recent guide.
San Luis Obispo
The Granada Hotel sits at the center of town, making it a perfect jumping off point for exploration.
(Courtesy of Granada)
You've been to Hearst Castle and wine tasting in Paso Robles, but chances are you've never spent quality time in America's "happiest city." The coastal town of San Luis Obispo has a lively downtown with terrific modern stays (we're loving the new Butler Hotel), top-notch restaurants, and one of the largest farmer's markets in the country. Escape the grind and indulge in slow living with our guide to where to eat, drink and play in downtown SLO. For an extended trip, also check out our three-day itinerary including stops in Paso, Cambria, Los Osos, and Pismo Beach.
The historic adobe at Three Sticks Winery, lovingly updated by SF designer Ken Fulk.
(Courtesy of Three Sticks)
Naturally, a place known for wine comes with artisan eats—so if you're in the mood for, say, Dungeness crab deviled eggs or duck liver mousse with fig jam on toasted brioche, then an escape to downtown Sonoma is for you. In addition to all the vino, you can indulge in olive oil tastings and craft cocktails, but there are also plenty of quirky shops, sun-soaked hikes, and bike tours to keep you happily engaged. There will be time to rest when you retire to your chic hotel, which promises a heated pool, private balconies, and churros for breakfast. Let us be your guide.
(Courtesy of Daniel Casabonne)
There's a reason you keep seeing Petaluma chicken on restaurant menus in SF: Petaluma has a deep history of agriculture and is happy to flaunt it via its many local farms—which offer tours, tastings, shops, and table-to-farm dinners—and independent eateries touting locally grown organic produce. And since farmers like to drink, Petaluma also has its share of wineries, breweries and distilleries waiting to give you a taste. Get your serious foodie on—plus, go antiquing—and enjoy the pace of small town life with our modern guide.
If Friday afternoon equals hopping in the car and pointing it toward the nearest place designed for R&R, then chances are you've visited the Mendonoma Coast—but who cares, we can't stop going back. This stunning swath of green and craggy coastal land has a bit of everything—the iconic architecture of Sea Ranch, hyper-local fare and opportunities to forage funghi, miles of hikes, and plentiful picnic spots. Plus, you can explore Bowling Ball beach and actually visit the lighthouse this time. Take your pooch on our weekend itinerary.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Hello, freshly shucked oysters! Seriously, just the drive through sun-dappled forests and along the windswept coast to get to the Point Reyes National Seashore makes us happy. It's a solid day trip if you're looking to run away, but the region also has enough going on to plan a perfect weekend escape. There are beaches, mountain biking, kayaking, and bioluminescence tours for outdoorsmen, and whale watching of course. And thanks to a pair of chef/hoteliers, you'll have your pick of beautifully designed stays serving stupid-good food. Get going.
Airstream Stays on the Coast
Kitted out by its designer owner, the Malibu Dream Airstream feels like it's on top of the world.
Looking for something a little offbeat? Channel your boho side and check into a glamped-out Airstream along the coast. We've rounded up seven stays that are heaven on wheels.
It's a dog's life at Kimpton's Goodland hotel in Goleta.
(Courtesy of @_thelifeofleroy)
Because no family road trip is complete without its cutest member, you'll want to check into a hotel that will treat Fido like the king he is. Here are 9 of our favorite pet-friendly stays along the California coast. Go on, ruff it.