11 Best Resorts in California for Rest & Relaxation

Posted by
Cate Misczuk
January 06, 2022
Updated October 15, 2023

best resorts in california
Photo: Shutterstock

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There are plenty of hotels in California, but resorts feel more special — places with such fun, awesome and indulgent accommodation and activities that you don’t ever really need to leave.

With some of the country’s most incredible views, parks, wine country and coastlines at your front door, the California’s top resorts make it their mission to help you experience the best their state has to offer.

We’re taking you on a journey across the state, from the desert in Palm Springs to snowy Yosemite, verdant Napa Valley to salty San Diego and much more. There’s something for everyone here, whether you like to ski, golf, relax in the spa or treat the kids to a slew of new activities.

Here’s a look at 11 of the best resorts in California to book in 2022 and beyond.

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Best Resorts in Northern California

1. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Photo: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Why you should stay: Tons of outdoor activities

  • Location: Yosemite
  • Class: Four star
  • Recent recognition: AAA/CAA Four Diamond Awards 2020
  • Rates from: $165/night

When visiting Yosemite, you might be tempted to stay in some humble accommodation, not to overshadow nature’s beauty. But Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, located right at the park’s entrance, will sway you differently.

The resort has both indoor and outdoor pools so you can swim year-round, as well as a spa, the Jackalope Bar & Grill, and unique features like cozy outdoor fire pits to enjoy on cool and snowy nights. The resort also hosts a ton of activities for you and the family to enjoy, like sledding in the winter and archery in the summer.

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Related read: 8 Best Airbnbs & Cabin Rentals Near Yosemite National Park

2. Resort at Squaw Creek

Resort at Squaw Creek
Photo: Resort at Squaw Creek

Why you should stay: Ski-in-ski-out access and location to Lake Tahoe

  • Location: Olympic Valley
  • Class: Four star
  • Recent recognition: Top 50 Ski Resorts in North America, Condé Nast Traveler
  • Rates from: $199/night

Located just minutes from North Lake Tahoe, the mountainside Resort at Squaw Creek is a quiet, secluded resort that embraces its natural surroundings.

There’s no shortage of on-site activities to enjoy this beautiful piece of California, from its plush golf course to the heated outdoor pools (including a 90-foot waterslide) lawn games, a skating rink, cross-country ski center, ski-in and ski-out access and even a fly-fishing center.

Here, you can let all the stress melt away as you let go and embrace the great outdoors, all with the plush comforts of Marriot that includes a spa, fluffy robes in your room, impeccable service and six on-site restaurants.

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Related read: 20 Beautiful Airbnb Rentals in Lake Tahoe

3. The Inn at Newport Ranch

The Inn at Newport Ranch
Photo: The Inn at Newport Ranch

Why you should stay: The outdoor activities and seclusion

  • Location: Fort Bragg
  • Class: Four stars
  • Rates from: $550/night

Sitting on 2,000 acres of land that encompasses seven microclimates, The Inn at Newport Ranch is an incredibly relaxed and remote resort for those looking to disconnect.

Featuring a mile and a half of rugged, Northern California coastline and 20-miles of trails, The Inn encourages you to get out and explore their land — from biking and RV-riding to hunting for mushrooms and forest bathing.

This is the kind of resort you go to and leave feeling like a totally new version of yourself — the spa, breathtaking views and farm-to-table eats making you feel totally rejuvenated.

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Related read: The Ultimate Los Angeles to San Francisco Road Trip

4. Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch
Photo: Carmel Valley Ranch

Why you should stay: Luxury amenities with an outdoor focus

  • Location: Carmel Valley
  • Class: Four stars
  • Rates from: $285/night

Driving into Carmel Valley, the smell of lavender and honey wafts from the ranch. Just a quick trip from Monterey, this central California resort welcomes you to enjoy all its grounds have to offer — from the ranch’s horses and goats to the luxe golf course, pro-grade tennis courts, refreshing pools, spa and mountain-top yoga.

While you’re off indulging in your wellness or perfecting your swing, the kids will be plenty occupied by the Carmel Valley Ranch staff who guide them through activities like beekeeping and geocaching. You’ll also love all the four on-site dining options where you can taste food grown right here on the ranch’s land.

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Related read: 7 Awesome Weekend Road Trips from San Francisco, California

5. Solage Resort

Solage Resort
Photo: Solage Resort

Why you should stay: Parents can enjoy wine country with the kids

  • Location: Napa Valley
  • Class: Four stars
  • Recent recognition: Forbes Travel Guide Star Award Winner
  • Rates from: $809/night

Right in the heart of California’s famous Napa Valley, Solage Resort likes to say you come here to ‘detox, retox, and repeat.’ The hotel has a spa, bathhouse and fitness center for the detox, but the restaurant is definitely where you will ‘retox’ while eating farm-to-table bites and washing them down with delicious local wines.

But, Solage also hosts a ton of activities that get you out exploring the beauty of the surrounding wine country, like the famous bike trails, hiking, and even hot air ballooning over the vineyards. The kids will love it here, too, with activities like Friday night S’mores, lawn games like bocce and even a Splash Pad and pool.

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Related read: 9 Best Airbnbs in Napa Valley, California

Best Resorts in Southern California

6. Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort

Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort
Photo: Kimpton Shorebreak Huntington Beach Resort

Why you should stay: Beachfront access and close to everything

  • Location: Huntington Beach
  • Class: Four stars
  • Recent recognition: #1 Hotel in Huntington Beach, TripAdvisor
  • Rates from: $227/night

There’s really no better resort to enjoy the best that Surf City has to offer than the Shorebreak.

Just 100 feet from the resort are the sandy shores of Huntington Beach, and you’re minutes away from the best surf schools, the pier and downtown Main Street — all of which you can walk to or use the free bikes provided.

But, there’s not much reason to leave the resort with two on-site restaurants and bars, a rock-climbing wall, fitness center and direct beach access. There isn’t a pool, but you should definitely use that opportunity to get out into the ocean for a refreshing swim or to catch a wave.

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Related read: 12 Stunning Beachfront Airbnbs in California

7. Nobu Ryokan

Nobu Ryokan
Photo: Nobu Ryokan

Why you should stay: Indulgent Japanese styled rooms and views of Carbon Beach

  • Location: Malibu
  • Class: Five stars
  • Recent recognition: Forbes Travel Guide Star Award Winner
  • Rates from:$2,000/night

If you’re looking for a luxurious resort to pull off into after cruising the Pacific Coast Highway, Nobu Ryokan resort is it. This is the kind of resort you check into with your love, or perhaps your bestie who enjoys teak soaking tubs and the spa just as much as you do.

Here, you can meander between serene outdoor patios and traditional Japanese Ryokan-styled lounges, all the while soaking up unobstructed views of Carbon Beach. Of course, while you’re here, you have to head to the world-famous, on-site Nobu restaurant to eat the fresh sushi.

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Related read: 14 Epic Campgrounds Near Los Angeles, California

8. Montage Laguna Beach

Montage Laguna Beach
Photo: Montage Laguna Beach

Why you should stay: Beach access and water activities

  • Location: Laguna Beach
  • Class: Five stars
  • Recent recognition: Forbes Travel Guide Star Award Winner
  • Rates from: $870/night

Perched up on a coastal bluff above the Pacific, Montage Laguna Beach boasts two outdoor pool decks, a massive 20,000-square-foot spa and three signature restaurants with sweeping views of the California coast.

Does it really get any bigger, or grander, than this?

Sitting on a whopping 30-acres, the Montage has plenty of space to kick back and relax exactly how you’d like, but the staff will also try and show you a bit of adventure, whether that’s taking you out sportfishing, kayaking or on the jetskis. Golfers will also appreciate that there are four different courses to try out nearby.

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Related read: 11 Best Scenic Drives in Southern California

9. Miramonte Resort & Spa

Miramonte Resort & Spa
Photo: Miramonte Resort & Spa

Why you should stay: The spa and golf amenities

  • Location: Palm Springs
  • Class: Four stars
  • Rates from: $411/night

Miramonte Resort & Spa is an oasis, appearing like a mirage in the hot, dusty desert surrounding Palm Springs. Here, guests can enjoy the heat by the pool, simply catching rays or partaking in a poolside yoga class, or indulging in a poolside ice cream treat.

What draws so many here is the palm-tree-lined golf course and the epic spa with a slew of treatments, from facials to wraps and massages.

But no matter what you choose to do at Miramonte Resort, you’ll be able to soak up those breathtaking views of the mountains all day long — watching the ridges change color as the sun rises and fades throughout the day.

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Related read: 12 Gorgeous Palm Springs Airbnbs with Pools

10. Park Hyatt Aviara

Park Hyatt Aviara
Photo: Park Hyatt Aviara

Why you should stay: Something for everyone in the family

  • Location: Carlsbad
  • Class: Five stars
  • Recent recognition: AAA Five-Diamond Resort
  • Rates from: $570/night

If you and the family are heading to Southern California, Aviara Resort is the premier place to stay.

The kids will love all the activities available here, from the pool and beach access to the game room with foosball and air hockey, the tennis courts and rotating weekly activities like s’mores roasting and sandcastle building contests. Of course, nearby attractions include Legoland.

But parents, Aviara Resort was made for you, too. Hire an on-site nanny for the day and head the spa or golf club, book a cabana by the adults-only pool or enjoy dinner and drinks at one of the four restaurants.

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Related read: 11 Epic Winter Camping Spots in California

11. Hotel del Coronado

Hotel del Coronado san diego
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should stay: To enjoy the architecture and history

  • Location: San Diego
  • Class: Four stars
  • Recent recognition: AAA Four Diamond Award
  • Rates from: $437/night

The sprawling, beachfront, Victorian-style resort is amongst the most unique in the country — never mind the state.

A San Diego icon featured in the Marilyn Monroe film “Some Like It Hot,” ​​Hotel del Coronado is a historic destination in itself, but delights guests with a variety of activities, from laps in the pool to mermaid aerobics where you slip into a mermaid tail for a core-heavy class.

Of course, you also have direct beach access, so you can get active with beach yoga or spin classes, or simply sit back and enjoy a cocktail in your private cabana. Be sure to check out the spa and boutique, too, after a day of exploring all San Diego has to offer.

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Related read: 12 Best Hikes Near San Diego, California

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