Otherworldly natural landscapes, delicious food and wine, relaxing spa resorts and beachfront escapes…there is something to that “West Coast, Best Coast” saying. And with such variety of scenery and activity within reach, there are plenty of options for extended long weekend trips on the West Coast. Here are a few of our favorite places, all within an easy drive or flight from major West Coast hubs.
Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized weekend getaway.
From Los Angeles and San Diego
Crystal blue waters, expansive beaches, fresh cuisine and excellent properties have long made Los Cabos a favorite quick getaway for A-listers and sun-seekers.
Where to stay: Overlooking the Sea of Cortez, One&Only Palmilla draws a mix of families, couples and groups of friends to its Mission-style estate. Across 25 lushly planted acres, the resort’s adobe buildings house 174 lavish suites. Families return year-after-year thanks to the popular KidsOnly Club, and travelers of all types come back for the two pools (one for families), decadent restaurants and a wealth of activities—including a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and excellent spa, plus adventures out at sea—but it’s the service that steals the show at this Indagare Index property.
Related: Read our Review: One&Only Palmilla
What to do: The sea is the playground of Los Cabos, whether travelers prefer to enjoy the views from the beachfront or dive in with surfing, fishing and snorkeling. For non-water-based activities, the surrounding desert offers prime opportunities for hiking and zip lining.
Where to eat: In the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, Flora Farms is a destination in and of itself. After embarking on a tour of the 10-acre farm, enjoy a delicious seasonal lunch comprising produce and meats all sourced from the property. And be sure stop by their ice cream cart to see what flavors they have available—it is all house-made and the flavors change with the farm’s produce. And back on property, One&Only Palmilla’s SEARED is the resort’s signature restaurant, with menus from Jean-Georges Vongerichten that showcase local seafood and meats (paired with one of Mexico’s best wine lists).
Flying distance from San Diego (SAN): Two-hour-and-fifteen-minute direct flight.
Flying distance from Los Angeles (LAX): Two-and-a-half-hour direct flight.
PALM SPRINGS & JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
This desert oasis has been a beloved getaway since Hollywood’s golden years, and today Palm Springs remains the ideal all-season escape.
Where to stay: The brand-new adult’s-only Azure Sky, which opened its doors in March 2022, pairs whimsical architecture with striking desert views and was developed by the Hollywood A-list. Other options include the hip and low-key Arrive, with a youthful ambience and deep connection to the cool zeitgeist of the modern Coachella Valley and the Colony Palms Hotel, a bohemian boutique hotel with Moroccan-inspired décor.
What to do: Visit Sunnylands, the 200-acre estate of philanthropist Walter Annenberg. Guided tours are the only way to enter the historic house (reserve in advance), but no tickets are necessary to explore the Impressionism-inspired gardens. Architecture buffs may enjoy a private tour with the Palm Spring Architecture + Design Center to the former houses of stars like Elvis Presley (Indagare can arrange). East of town, the trails (and whimsical flora) of Joshua Tree National Park beckon.
Where to eat: The bustling Birba is a go-to for an al fresco meal, thanks to its large outdoor patio. Head here for farm to table meals and Thursday night live music. Classic, upscale Italian is best enjoyed at Il Corso, where the menu includes homemade pasta dishes and fresh seafood. For the best brunch in town, don’t miss Norma’s.
Driving Distance from Los Angeles: About two hours, although traffic can vary.
A-Listers like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres own homes in this community about five miles from Santa Barbara. In addition to star quality, exquisite food and ultimate relaxation, the dramatic hills and sunny coastal weather of Montecito make for ideal hiking and biking conditions.
Where to stay: Set on 16 acres sandwiched between the beach and the mountains, Rosewood Miramar Beach (an Indagare Index hotel which opened in 2019) has a scallop-shaped pool with cabanas, six restaurants and a Goop-branded boutique.
What to do: Check out Lotusland, a 37-acre estate where the late opera star Madame Ganna Walska created her own personal (and eccentric) Eden. Advanced reservations for tours are a must. Foodies may enjoy a culinary guided tour and cooking classes with Laurence Hauben, a proponent of the Slow Food Movement—which Indagare can help arrange.
Where to eat: Jeannine’s Restaurant & Bakery is a favorite for breakfast, thanks to fresh-baked pastries, delicious challah French toast and classic egg dishes.
Driving Distance from Los Angeles: Around two hours
From San Francisco
NAPA & SONOMA
California’s preeminent wine regions are both idyllic destinations where days are spent visiting wineries, biking the winding roads and savoring incredible food. Napa is the elegant, more exclusive option, with some of the most awarded restaurants. Sonoma, meanwhile, is more laid-back and can feel less sceney.
Where to stay: In Napa, the current talk of the town is the Four Seasons Napa Valley, in Calistoga, which welcomed its first guests in Fall 2021. Expect spacious rooms with fireplaces and vineyard views, an on-site winery and two pools (one for families). Meadowood, long an Indagare member favorite, currently has 36 elegant cottage and rooms open—a reduction from 50 following wildfire damage in 2020—with a full revamp and rebuild in the works. Nearby, the equally luxe Auberge du Soleil offers a relaxing romantic escape, with its outdoor pool looking over the valley below.
In Sonoma, the Montage Healdsburg opened in January 2021, with a massive spa, dreamy pool and California-fresh dining. For an option in town, the sophisticated MacArthur Place has handsome accommodations within walking distance to the shops and restaurants of downtown Sonoma.
What to do: Taste the fruit of the vine, of course. Some of the top vineyards include Calistoga’s historic Schramsberg Vineyards (known for its sparkling wines), Quintessa in St. Helena (which makes organic, biodynamic vintages) and the 100 percent solar-powered Frog’s Leap. Over in Sonoma, there are even more options, although crowd-favorite Scribe is still closed to non-members due to Covid.
Where to eat: Now number 50 on the World’s 50 Best, SingleThread pays homage to Japanese tradition and cuisine, serving farm to table fare—their 5-acre farm supplies 70% of their produce. French Laundry continues to be one of the world’s most lauded restaurants and makes for a fabulous, pretense-free dinner experience. Reservations can be hard to come by. Due to wildfire damage, the ever-popular Restaurant at Meadowood remains closed.
Driving Distance from San Francisco: Under two hours
BIG SUR & CARMEL
Vying with Italy’s Amalfi Coast for most gorgeous stretch of shoreline, Big Sur, just south of the beachy arts colony Carmel, is on many travelers’ must-see list. And it just happens to be an easy (and jaw-droppingly gorgeous) drive south from San Francisco.
Where to stay: Seemingly suspended over the Pacific, Post Ranch Inn is a serene and romantic escape that blends into its hillside surroundings and looks out (through enormous window) to the ocean below. In Carmel, Carmel Valley Ranch is an idyllic family-friendly property nestled in the Santa Lucia mountains, with an 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf course, spa, sports center and a homey and rustic vibe.
What to do: Part of the magic is just driving Highway 1, a road so stunning that HBO’s Big Little Lies used it throughout the series even though it’s miles away from the show’s setting in Monterey. The area has several state parks, each with great trails and scenic overlooks, which can make for incredible picnic spots. Indagare can help arrange for specialist guides to craft the ideal hiking itinerary for your group (with add-ons like photography, food foraging and surf lessons).
Where to eat: Big Sur Bakery is a must-stop lunch spot along the road, with a rustic façade that makes its impressive cuisine all the more surprising. Lunches here showcase seasonal comfort cuisine with local produce (currently open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday). Plus, stay on the lookout for the soon-to-open Chez Noir in Carmel from Jonny and Monique Black who have worked in San Francisco’s top restaurants—the menu will highlight the many charms of the central coast.
Driving Distance from San Francisco: Under three hours on the fastest route, with options to spend more time on Highway 1 bringing it to around three and half hours
Related: 5 Best U.S. Road Trips
Lake Tahoe is not only a winter wonderland for the West Coast ski set, but an easy getaway any time of year—perfect for a long weekend as well.
Where to stay: Indagare members often opt for a house rental around Lake Tahoe. For resorts, the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe is a favorite for skiers. In the mountains of Truckee, on the north shores of Lake Tahoe, this lodge-like property has ski-in, ski-out access to Northstar. Those looking for direct frontage on Lake Tahoe should consider Edgewood Tahoe. The resort has a contemporary design, with a fabulous outdoor pool (open year-round), as well as a 18-hole George and Tom Fazio-designed golf course. In the winter, Heavenly Ski Area is just a few minutes away. And this fall, the first of Edgewood’s elegant new villa suites will become available to guests.
What to do: Summertime sees hiking, biking and—of course—plenty of time on the water, either swimming or with a boat charter. Come winter, skiing and snowboarding take centerstage.
Where to eat: In Truckee, Trokay is a fine-dining, tasting-menu restaurant with a relaxed ambience and a serious pedigree: husband-and-wife owners John and Nyna Weatherson decamped to Tahoe following careers as chef de partie at New York’s Daniel (John) and head cheesemonger at Murray’s Cheese.
Driving Distance from San Francisco: Three-plus hours to either Truckee or South Lake Tahoe
From Seattle & Portland
WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON
Restaurants (and oenophiles) across the country have, finally, begun to pay close attention to the wines coming out of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The region is even more laid-back than Sonoma, with more than 500 wineries making exceptional Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and more.
Where to stay: In July 2022, the Tributary Hotel opened in a restored 100-year-old building, armed with an intimate food-and-wine-tourism experience and a restaurant from Matthew Lightner, of New York’s two-Michelin-starred Atera, and Shaun Kajiwara and Katie Jackson of Sonoma County’s Jackson Family Wines. A longtime member favorite in the area is The Allison Inn & Spa, set on 35 acres of manicured gardens and rolling vineyards. It’s an ideal home base for exploring the wineries, but the hotel itself is a destination in its own right, with an emphasis on wellness and reconnecting to nature, thanks to a 15,000-square-foot spa.
Where to eat: Sustainably sourced directly from the restaurant’s own farm, The Tributary Hotel’s ōkta is a new must-try on the scene. And for more farm-to-table cuisine, Jory at The Allison is one of the Willamette Valley’s top restaurants for a special occasion. Its seasonal menus showcase the wine region’s bounty.
What to do: Like in California Wine Country, days in the Willamette Valley move slowly, with relaxed tastings at multiple top wineries. Some of our favorites include Sokol Blosser, Ponzi Vineyards and Solena.
Driving Distance from Seattle and Portland: Three and a half hours from Seattle; 35 minutes from Portland
Related: The Perfect Weekend in Portland
VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Vancouver Island is rich enough as a region to entertain you for a week, but also makes a superb destination as a long weekend. Its beaches and rainforest trails are great for kids, while its sheer remoteness makes it unbelievably romantic.
Where to stay: The area is home to two refined wilderness lodges: the secluded, family-run Nimmo Bay Resort promises a remote and extremely private retreat with only nine cabins, while Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (an Indagare Index hotel) is a tented camp offering a unique wilderness experience with sublime food and service in an unforgettable setting.
What to do: Adventures range from bear-viewing and whale-watching to guided kayaking and boat tours of the Broughton Archipelago.
Distance from Vancouver: To reach Nimmo Bay, take a one-hour flight to Port Hardy and then a seaplane or helicopter ride to the resort (half-hour charter flight). Clayoquot has set guest arrival dates of Thursdays and Sundays and schedules an afternoon sea plane to collect incoming guests from Vancouver Airport. The flight is about an hour and is a gorgeous aerial introduction to the region.
Contact Indagare for assistance planning a customized weekend getaway.
This article was published by Indagare Travel in partnership with One&Only Resorts.