Great Escapes: Southern California

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La Jolla Village, sometimes called the Beverly Hills of San Diego, is the ideal setting for a big-splurge fall weekend. Golfing and biking highlight a shoulder-season weekend escape to Whistler, Canada. Our grandsons, ages 4 and 7, live and breathe Legos, so they rejoiced when I booked a hotel and admissions package at Legoland in Carlsbad, Calif. Discover a spectacular slice of California on a weekend escape to Alpine County.

My husband, Paul, and I discovered marvelous Markleeville thanks to a mudslide in May, which prompted a detour that opened our eyes to a spectacular slice of California. Check out Fleet Week on a weekend escape to San Pedro. San Pedro, with its steep hills and panoramic ocean views, reminds me of San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. Surrender to the laid-back rhythms of Cayucos on a weekend escape to the Central Coast. As Las Vegas sizzles, head for a weekend escape to nearby and cooler Mt. Gray skies kept me out of the surf on a recent visit to Laguna Beach, but I found plenty to enjoy on dry land.

Take me out to a Quakes game on a weekend escape to Rancho Cucamonga. On a weekend escape to Pacific Beach, you can party on the boardwalk and chill on the bay. Often overlooked, the wine-country getaway town of Livermore, Calif. Military history, scenic state parks and tasty shellfish make for a rich weekend escape on Whidbey Island, Wash.

As my year-old son, Anders, scampered up a metal ladder to the gun emplacements at Ft. Bounce in a dune buggy on a sandy weekend escape to Pismo Beach.

California's top 5 secret weekend escapes

Mammoth too crowded in summer and winter? Escape in the spring or fall, a. When my wife, Jeannie, was a girl, she and her father spent every summer in Mammoth Lakes. A weekend escape to Windsor — no, not that Windsor. Hiking and history are on display on a weekend escape to Prescott, Ariz.

It seemed like a tall order: My wife and I had a four-day window we wanted to fill with history, hiking, good eats, an interesting hotel and pleasant weather. This manicured complex snugged up against the pink-hued Santa Rosa Mountains is best known for world-class golf. Tennis anyone? Ironically, luxury never rests.

5 Top Romantic Getaways in California - US Romantic Getaways

Palm Springs is constantly elevating indulgence to new highs, with swanky, imaginative do-overs of existing luxe lodgings—such as the splashy Hard Rock Hotel and the Saguaro Palm Springs —and subtler, though no less opulent remakes, like the boutique Colony Palms Hotel and Sparrows Lodge , a rustic-chic gem in the heart of town.

At the ultra-refined Parker Palm Springs , relax in private villas with intimate hot tubs. With luxury resorts come luxury spas, with treatments that sound as beautiful as the dramatic surroundings. Or turn the world off with a soak in natural, hot springs mineral spas in Desert Hot Springs. Decadence, defined and refined. In the mood for some perfect pampering in a breathtaking setting? Lodgings here specialize in laid-back luxury, with settings ranging from hilltop areas, to secret bungalows, to edge-of-the-sea dazzlers.

Consider Belmond El Encanto , with terraced gardens and sweeping views of the Pacific. Pull on a fluffy robe from the closet of your classic bungalow to dip into the pool, or get a treatment at the onsite spa. It is currently closed until further notice. This stunning retreat has a storied past sprinkled with celebrities: Vivien Leigh and Sir Laurence Olivier exchanged vows here and it made a perfect honeymoon retreat for then-Senator John F.

Kennedy and his beautiful bride Jackie. This luxury lodging feels the most like a see-and-be-seen destination in the region—albeit in one where arriving for brunch in a chauffeured Bentley seems oh so normal. The waterfront property has onsite tennis courts and provides access to nearby golf courses.

For total pampering in a dramatic oceanfront setting, head to The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara , situated on 78 acres along the rolling hills and ocean bluffs of the Gaviota Coast, 20 minutes west of Santa Barbara. Posh rooms have private balconies or patios, and the resort boasts a full-service spa, a 12,bottle wine cellar, and a Paris-born executive chef.

Then of course, you can simply loll by the zero-edge pool and do nothing more taxing than watching the Pacific for passing dolphins and whales. With surroundings as blissful as the Napa Valley and Sonoma County wine country, it was only a matter of time before blissful lodgings followed suit. In the s, St. Sonoma Mission Inn —now a Fairmont property—focused on healing waters and lush surroundings, and visitors still enjoy the silky mineral pools in lap-of-luxury surroundings.

In Yountville, relax on the swanky rooftop pool at ultra-modern Bardessono , built from salvaged stone and reclaimed wood. At Calistoga Ranch , 50 freestanding guest lodges are nestled among oak trees and babbling brooks, and fire pits warm outdoor living rooms. If you think all this indulgence is for couples, think again.

Rooms at the oceanfront Snug Harbor Inn rooms come with jetted tubs and fireplaces. For a roomier option on the island, consider renting a condo in the posh Hamilton Cove area; many units include golf carts so you can make the 5-minute drive down to Avalon—if you ever feel like budging from your chaise on your deck or by the pool. Exclusive Descanso Beach Club rents chi-chi private cabanas, plus beach valets and other spoil-me touches.

In the days before cars were common in the desert, many Hollywood stars rode the train to this desert getaway. Red tile roofs and stucco walls glow in the afternoon sun; palm trees sway and water fountains burble. Outdoor fireplaces flicker and glow around the edges of the spring-fed swimming pool. A revamp to the property will include adding 11 two-room casitas, a new wellness center, a new dining room, and more. 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.

Dining here is also excellent, with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients provided by local farms. Wondering what to do today? Originally opened in , La Casa del Zorro had seen some wear and tear, but a complete overhaul of its poolside and garden rooms, and its deluxe one- to four-bedroom casitas with private pools or spas, now finds the resort in fabulous shape.

Look for Southwestern desert-style furnishings, marble baths, wooden shutters, and wood-burning fireplaces for chilly desert nights.

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After a hike in Anza-Borrego , retire to the Fox Den Bar for cocktails, or watch a desert sunset over dinner on the terrace of the Butterfield Dining Room. This is Gold Country, where, starting in , a reef of gold Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, golden-green olive oils, local wildflower honey— More Ideas.

California Detox Retreats. Top California Yoga Retreats. Discover Los Angeles County. Just south of Los Angeles, this cliffside retreat is a remote sanctuary with breathtaking views and a farm-to-table focus. Expand Hide. More Resources.

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    Weekend escapes: Quick getaways close to Southern California - Los Angeles Times

    Beverly Hills shopping. Trolley Tour. Paley Center for Media. California Questionnaire: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. C Beverly Hills. Discover Orange County. Live like a star at posh getaways. The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Monarch Beach Resort. Montage Laguna Beach. The Resort at Pelican Hill. Spotlight: Greater Palm Springs. A golf mecca with spas and some surprising finds. La Quinta - Shopping. There's a wide, flat beach; a long, beachfront boardwalk and bike path; and plenty of laid-back locals enjoying the sunshine. If you are coming here with a family, have a look at some fun family resorts.

    Joshua Tree, specifically Joshua Tree National Park, is a vast desert space of more than 1, square miles. It's a little less than an hour from Palm Springs or just under three hours from LA by car. The park is filled with beautiful flora and fauna and amazing geologic scenery. You go there to hike, spend a night or two in one of the park's scenic campgrounds , and climb the rocks.

    It's fun to spend a few days deep in the desert camping or just spend an hour or two hiking the easier trails on a day trip. The little town outside the park is filled with an eclectic collection of hippie stores, natural healers, and roadside diners. Ventura is a beach city about an hour north of Los Angeles. Aside from clean, wide, uncrowded beaches, it has a quaint downtown area, appropriately centered around Main Street, that has a wonderful, old-school vibe, with most of the architecture preserved from the s and 30s.

    The beachfront area has a long, wooden pier extending into the ocean, with beaches on either side. There's a large harbor, and a boat trip to one of the nearby uninhabited islands of the Channel Islands National Park is an exciting environmental adventure.

    There is history here too. The city was on the Camino Real, the trail of California missions established by the Spanish in the 18th century, extending throughout the state. This mountain resort in the San Bernardino Mountains offers amazing skiing during the winter and plenty of outdoor adventure in the summertime. Most of the ski resorts in the area keep a lift or two open in the summer for mountain bikers, and there are hundreds of miles of trails for riders of all skill levels. You can also go hiking in the beautiful forests, and horseback riding is popular, too.

    Big Bear Lake is perfect for fishing and boating.

    The 7 Best Southern California Weekend Getaways

    Of course a winter visit gives you access to miles of ski slopes of all levels of difficulty, plus snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Big Bear is about two hours from Los Angeles, but the road to and from the mountain gets busy during holiday weekends. Leave very early or very late to avoid extra time in traffic. Solvang is a small city just north of Santa Barbara that has dedicated itself to its Danish history. Settled in by people from Denmark trying to escape the cold of the mid-western US, it's filled with Danish shops and restaurants serving Danish food. Even the architecture is Danish, with plenty of windmills and similar European designs.

    It's about two hours from Los Angeles and makes a great getaway on its own or when combined with a Santa Barbara trip. There's also a cool vintage motorcycle museum.

    Hotel Joaquin

    Just a bit longer than three hours by car from Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo provides a true Central Coast beach experience along with some cool history. There's an 18th-century Spanish mission here, too, and the complex is now a museum and state historical site.

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    • This small city has plenty of stores and art galleries that cater to tourists, and there are many great beaches nearby. Morro Bay is a small, quaint beachside town with a wide, curving bay and beach. The mansion and its opulent buildings are testament to the extreme wealth of Hearst and his passion for history and collecting.

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