There are so many reasons to visit California, from the stunning scenery to the wine and cuisine. And a great resort in California will tie the experience together by offering all of that and more.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to hang your hat as you explore all California has to offer, the state has no shortage of breathtaking options. You’ll find luxe beachfront lodging, cozy cabin-style rooms tucked away in the trees, and everything in between.
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With diverse landscapes in California and several top-notch resort options to choose from, it’s hard to narrow down a favorite. So instead, I’ve outlined my top picks across the state, broken down into sections for both Northern and Southern California.
Are There Any All-Inclusive Resorts in California?
While you may associate all-inclusive resorts with tropical destinations like Mexico, there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in California, too. Some are even high-end luxury properties, like the stunning Alila Ventana Big Sur (see more below).
Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best California Resorts:
- Alila Ventana, for the best all-inclusive resort
- Montage Laguna Beach, for the best oceanfront resort
- Carneros Resort and Spa, for the best Napa Valley resort
The Best California Resorts to Book
The Best Resorts in Southern California
1. Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club (Dana Point)
The Waldorf Astoria bills itself as the perfect blend of Southern California’s laid-back luxury and elegant service. It sits on an astounding 175 acres atop a seaside bluff, which accommodates a private beach club for guests. The resort provides everything you need to enjoy the beach, including an indoor/outdoor bar and equipment to surf, paddle board, SUP, snorkel, and more. A golf course, three pools, and multiple boutiques are also on the property. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Private beach club, Water sports equipment, and instruction, Golf, Spa
Address: 1 Monarch Beach Resort N, Dana Point, CA 92629
2. Rosewood Miramar Beach (Montecito)
Rosewood Miramar Beach is a great pick for getting the best of California’s Central Coast, including pristine beachfront, gorgeous landscapes, and impressive architecture. Its bright and airy 123 rooms and 35 suites are housed on 16 acres of lush lawns and landscaping and offer a modern beach aesthetic. A spa, multiple pools, and a fitness studio are on-site to help guests rest and rejuvenate. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Beach activities, House car, Bocce courts, Pet-friendly, Bike rentals, Boutiques
Address: 1759 S Jameson Ln, Montecito, CA 93108
3. Ojai Valley Inn (Ojai)
Soak in the calming vibes of Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn, which perfectly captures the essence of this special California town. The luxury property features an award-winning golf course, multiple pools, hot tubs, a restaurant, and more, making it easy not to leave. Activities include movie nights, beekeeping and honey tasting, lawn games, craft workshops, and much more. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Golf, Pools, Spa, Daily activities
Address: 905 Country Club Rd, Ojai, CA 93023
4. Montage Laguna Beach (Laguna Beach)
Take in iconic Laguna Beach from Montage, set atop a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific. Coastal influences and modern design details meet in the resort’s collections of rooms, suites, and villas, with views looking out over the ocean. Guests can also dine by the Pacific on chef-driven fare at restaurants that spotlight California cuisine. Culinary events happen around the resort on a regular basis, and the lobby features daily live entertainment. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Kids program, Pool, Spa, Daily entertainment, Sunset s’mores
Address: 30801 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
5. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (Rancho Valencia)
49 luxury casitas inspired by Spanish colonial haciendas make up Rancho Valencia, a getaway 30 minutes north of San Diego. Casitas have their own patios and fireplaces, giving you everything you need to relax in-room. Around the property, guests can stroll through 45 acres of gardens and citrus groves or use the resort bicycles. Daily activities include yoga and fitness classes, guided hydrotherapy, crystal alchemy sound bath, and more. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Tennis courts and programming, Spa, Bikes available, Daily activities, Pool
Address: 5921 Valencia Cir, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
6. Terranea Resort (Ranchos Palos Verdes)
Sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean await you along the Palos Verdes Peninsula at Terranea Resort. Accommodations make them easy to enjoy, with private balconies that offer unparalleled vistas. Nature is all around you at the 102-acre resort, with two miles of hiking trails helping guests discover the local flora and fauna. The resort also offers award-winning golf and four separate swimming pools. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Four pools, Golf, Boutiques, Spa, and wellness center
Address: 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
7. Sensei Porcupine Creek (Rancho Mirage)
Sensei takes a data-driven and technology-fueled approach to health and wellness, and on-site guides and practitioners hold advanced degrees in their fields. Personalized concierge service also sets the resort apart from others. A perfect option for a retreat, Sensei’s setting is intimate and beautifully manicured, as the property began as a private estate. Dining by Nobu is exclusively available to retreat guests. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Retreats, Golf, Tennis, Gardens
Address: 42765 Dunes View Rd, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
8. Parker Palm Springs (Palm Springs)
For an iconic Palm Springs stay with beautiful poolside rooms and grounds, head to Parker Palm Springs. Grounds are only accessible to guests, making the resort feel private and allowing guests to enjoy croquet and petanque courts, two pools, a massive spa, and beautiful gardens. Rooms are well-appointed with midcentury furniture, and the resort is both family-and pet-friendly. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Pools, Tennis, Lawn games, Bikes available, Fitness and yoga, Pet-friendly
Address: 4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
9. San Ysidro Ranch (Santa Barbara)
Ranked the top luxury resort in California in 2022, San Ysidro is a destination stay in the foothills near Santa Barbara. Its 38 vine-covered cottages are surrounded by landscaped gardens brimming with flowers, olive trees, citrus groves, and more, making for a private and idyllic setting. Rooms meant to evoke a European country-home feel, are furnished with stone fireplaces, four-poster beds, and outdoor showers. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Award-winning restaurants, Botanic gardens, Lawn games and mini golf, Heated pool
Address: 900 San Ysidro Ln, Montecito, CA 93108
The Best Resorts in Northern California
10. Alila Ventana (Big Sur)
If you want an unforgettable stay in Big Sur, Alila Ventana is your spot. Tucked away in the trees and overlooking the ocean, the location is impossible to beat, and a hilltop infinity pool makes it easy to enjoy the views. While the nightly prices are steep, three meals and select activities are included in your room rate. Fireplaces and soaking tubs make for a cozy in-room atmosphere. Book the best rates here.
Good for: All-inclusive, Infinity pool, Ocean views, Activity calendar and workshops
Address: 48123 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920
11. Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection (Napa Valley)
Auberge du Soleil was inspired by the south of France, and the influence is easy to see, from the architecture to the cuisine. Founded by a French restauranteur, the hotel is synonymous with fine dining, and it’s been a “must-visit” foodie destination for decades thanks to its focus on fresh and local ingredients. Its 50 rooms and suites are known as some of the most luxurious in Napa. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Tennis, Sculpture Garden, Renowned cuisine, Spa
Address: 180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA 94573
12. Rosewood Sand Hill (Menlo Park)
Just minutes from Palo Alto, the five-star hotel is a luxury retreat for tourists and business travelers alike. The Rosewood Sand Hill looks to embody the region through its restaurant—which has impressed many top critics—as well as its art collection and 16 acres of landscaped gardens. Rooms are large and airy and also reflect California ranch architecture. They feature fully furnished balconies or terraces and the latest technology. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Outdoor fitness center, Salon and spa, Business center, Heated pool and hot tub
Address: 2825 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park, CA 94025
13. Carneros Resort and Spa (Carneros)
Situated between Napa and Sonoma, Carneros Resort and Spa has the perfect location for those looking to wine taste and restaurant hop between the two. Its 72 rooms, including private cottages, merge farmhouse architecture and contemporary design for a luxe result. Meanwhile, it’s surrounded by rolling vineyards and gorgeous countryside, contributing to a tranquil experience. Don’t miss a chance to use the outdoor showers under the stars. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Live music and events, Pickleball, Adults-only and family pools, Wine tasting room
Address: 4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa, CA 94559
14. Meadowood (Napa Valley)
Located in St. Helena, known as Napa Valley’s Main Street, this 250-acre estate calls itself a “gathering place, private club and intimate country hotel.” Service and cuisine are the standouts at Meadowood, with renowned hospitality and a world-class restaurant on-site. At the wine center, exclusive to guests, you can learn all about wine production, appreciation and more. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Wine center, Pool, Tennis, Michelin-starred restaurant
Address: 900 Meadowood Ln, St Helena, CA 94574
15. Carmel Valley Ranch (Carmel Valley)
Perched on a golf course in picture-perfect Carmel Valley is Carmel Valley Ranch. The 139-room property sits atop a hill, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area. You won’t want for things to do while at the resort: honey-tasting, birding walks and astrology workshops are just a few of the activities on offer. Several farm animals, including Highland cows, call the resort home. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Activity calendar and workshops, Golf, Garden and orchard, Pet-friendly
Address: 1 Old Ranch Rd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923
16. Farmhouse Inn (Sonoma Valley)
Nestled among the redwoods and vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Farmhouse Inn is a 25-room retreat situated on what used to be an old farmhouse. Cozy rooms, farm-fresh food, and sunny pool days are all staples of a visit to this memorable property, which will quickly come to feel like a home away from home. Large, barn-like rooms with fireplaces, steam showers, and soaking tubs bring cozy vibes. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Soaking tubs, Turndown service with milk and cookies, Pool, Michelin-starred restaurant
Address: 7871 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436
17. The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay (Half Moon Bay)
You can’t beat the views at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. The resort sits on a cliff overlooking the bay and beach, with walking paths stretching in either direction to help you enjoy the scenery. The property itself lives up to the glamorous Ritz-Carlton brand, with plush accommodations and prices to match. In-room fireplaces keep guests cozy on chilly Northern California nights. Book the best rates here.
Good for: Golf, Spa, Bikes available, Indoor pool, Hot tub
Address: 1 Miramontes Point Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
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1. Book Your Flights
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Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
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4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
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My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: