Where to Go This Summer

Where to Go This Summer

All less than three hours away, all offering stand-alone/bungalow-style accommodations—along with a range of social-distance-friendly activities—here are the best places for Angelenos to head this summer.

Hotel Bel-Air

Location: In the heart of Bel-Air, on 12 acres, nestled within the charming Stone Canyon, amid stunning estates and the Bel-Air Country Club.

Accommodations: If you live in Los Angeles and have only been coming to the hotel for dinner and drinks, you’re missing out. A stay at the property might only be a few miles from your own home but feels a world away. The hotel features 103 rooms, 80 of which have private outdoor spaces, and 20 of which have either a spa pool or Jacuzzi. The property dates back to 1946 and was renovated in 2011 by Alexandra Champalimaud in a style the merges the hotel’s heritage with contemporary comforts. Book the 2,265-square-foot Presidential Suite and have your own full-size swimming pool, grand piano, chef’s kitchen, and dining room with seating for 10. The Canyon Suites, with 600 square feet of indoor space, are also stunning, with their own patios and lounge chairs, plunge pools, and views of the lush foliage.

To do: The property has launched an “Experience More” menu, in which guests are able to book a variety of activities in the comfort of their room or throughout the hotel’s grounds. Options include picnics, candlelit dinners, cocktail and s’mores kits, and more. 

Post-COVID-19 operations: The spa, gym, and inside portion of the bar and lounge remain closed. All guests must wear a mask while on hotel property.

Is the pool open? Yes

From $565; dorchestercollection.com

The private swimming pool at the presidential suite at the Hotel Bel-Air.

A canyon suite feels worlds away from the bustle of nearby Beverly Hills.

The private outdoor area at the hotel’s Grace Kelly Suite.

Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Location: About 20 miles from Los Angeles, on a 9,000-square-foot parcel that rests on Carbon Beach, Malibu’s most exclusive and sought-after oceanfront neighborhood. While no beaches in Malibu are private, the coastline in front of the hotel is among the quieter and more secluded stretches in Malibu, perfect for walks, beach sports, and sunbathing. It is not uncommon to find dolphins and sea lions feeding in front of the Ryokan or a pod of pelicans doing a flyby. From January to May, you might catch sight of migrating gray whales. 

Accommodations: Of the 16 rooms, 11 are on the beachfront or have ocean views. The neutral color palette highlights Japanese art and antiques from owner Larry Ellison’s own collection, while the seductive bathrooms feature rain showers, teak tubs, and skylights, and the plush beds are draped in Anichini linens. Book the ocean view “Rockstar Suite,” which rests on the top floor of the property and is the only one with its own outdoor bathtub and sliding doors that open to 180-degree views. For those who love the sea, the Beachfront rooms are so close to the crashing waves that the hotel offers ear plugs.

To do: Dine at Nobu Malibu, right next door (the property can help get you a coveted table). The hotel has SUP boards for on-site paddling, and nearby hikes and surf breaks are perfect for those looking for social-distancing activities. But the best thing to do at the Ryokan is: nothing. Bring a book and take advantage of the high-tech, in-room entertainment options.

Post-COVID-19 operations: Guests are asked to stay at least six feet away from other groups and the staff; hand sanitizer is placed throughout the property; each guest is given a safety kit with two masks, two pairs of gloves, and hand sanitizer; guests are asked to wear masks while interacting with the staff; contactless thermal temperature checks are required for all guests; check-in can be done via email two hours prior to arrival so that guests can go directly to their rooms; the fitness center will be available for reserved time slots; and, as always, the entire property is only accessible to registered guests.

Is the pool open? Not yet

From $2,000/night; nobuhotels.com

One of the Nobu Ryokan’s beachfront rooms.

The onsen-inspired bathrooms.

The boutique property is only open to hotel guests.

Terranea

Location: About 20 miles south of Los Angeles, on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The dynamic oceanfront isn’t ideal for swimming, but the jagged cliffs, range of unique wildlife and marine life, and crashing waves are reminiscent of Big Sur. The 102-acre property is Los Angeles’ only oceanfront luxury resort. 

Accommodations: Although 360 of the property’s 582 guestrooms are in its main building, which is set up like a traditional multistory hotel, Terranea also offers 50 three-bedroom ocean-view casitas and 32 villas that range from 1,850 to 2,800 square feet and include full kitchens and living areas. Those looking for a wellness escape will enjoy The Bungalows at Terranea, 20 two-bedroom bungalows, each equipped with spa- and fitness-themed amenities and located adjacent to the spa. 

To do: The property offers lessons in falconry, nature hikes, golf, tide pooling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Terranea’s expert guides offer friendly and knowledgeable insights into Rancho Palos Verdes’ unique ecology and character.

Post-COVID-19 operations: Terranea has implemented the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Safe Stay industry-wide initiative, and with careful planning and consideration for the health and well-being of its guests and associates.

Is the pool open? The property features four pools; they anticipate opening the Resort Pool (and its 140-foot waterslide) and the Vista Pool (near the ocean) with monitoring and social distancing. 

From $349; terranea.com

Terranea sits on 102 acres just 20 miles south of Los Angeles.

Accommodations include several room types with kitchens, multiple bedrooms, and private outdoor areas.

The property offers lessons in falconry, nature hikes, golf, tide pooling, paddleboarding, and kayaking.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Location: About 65 miles south of Los Angeles, tucked into a quiet canyon that’s just a three-minute walk from the Aliso Beach Park. Laguna Beach’s coastline is home to more pelagic wildlife than anywhere else in the world (tuna, sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, and more).

Accommodations: A total of 97 rooms are scattered throughout the property, nearly all of them with private outdoor spaces. Families will enjoy the cottage two-bedroom suites, each offering 1,125 square feet of space over two levels, along with 300 square feet of outdoor space. Book the three-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot secluded Treehouse, which includes a wraparound deck, full kitchen, and private gazebo. 

To do: While the quiet setting is perfect for relaxation, there is no shortage of family fun. Hiking, outdoor yoga, daily private shuttles to Aliso Beach (where the hotel operates a beachfront bistro called Lost Pier Café), a nine-hole golf course (the only one in Laguna Beach), and live music on the property every day make it easy to stay entertained. For those looking to venture out, The Ranch can arrange private ocean safaris with local outfitter Captain Dave, including underwater glass viewing pods (limited occupancy and cleaned per CDC guidelines). There’s also a Catalina backcountry day trip, where the property can arrange for a guided hike, lunch, and transportation to/from Dana Point or Newport Harbor to the wilder, back side of Catalina Island, located 26 miles offshore. Surf lessons (the resort is owned by Mark Christy, who also owns surf brand Hobie) and guided art walks around Laguna’s original “Art Colony” allow guests to feel like locals. For those who wish to indulge, poolside foot massages are being offered by staff wearing gloves and masks.

Post-COVID-19 operations: The property was one of the first hotels in California to achieve the “Clean and Safe” certification from the California Hotel & Lodging Association for completing a rigorous 32-point checklist of staff, guest, cleaning, and distancing protocols. It also created a Sani-Czar team that champions and leads procedures across the property and can deliver masks and small-batch hand sanitizer to guests, ensures sanitization stations are functioning, cleans high-touch areas, and guides guests in following safety and distancing protocols. The team is highly visible to guests, which also adds peace of mind for travelers.

Is the pool open: Yes, with reduced capacity.

From $269/night; theranchlb.com

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is the only property in the area to have its own golf course.

The Treehouse accommodations are the ultimate in privacy and seclusion, overlooking Aliso Creek.

The resort’s pool is open in a reduced capacity.

San Ysidro Ranch

Location: The 500-acre property, located about 85 miles north of Los Angeles, is nothing short of magical. A lavender-landscaped private drive marks the entrance to the beloved resort, located in Montecito’s hillside, after which the tucked-away property reveals its stunning landscaped grounds, complete with rose garden, chef’s garden, lily ponds, and grass lawns. A completely different atmosphere from Santa Barbara’s beach resorts, San Ysidro Ranch’s setting is just two miles from the coast but feels a world away. 

Accommodations: The 41 stand-alone cottages are scattered throughout the property, which dates back to the early 1800s. Following the 2017 Thomas Fire and mudslides, the resort underwent a 15-month renovation and partial rebuild that debuted in April 2019 and included a complete rebuild of three cottages, which now offer private plunge pools. A pair of two-bedroom cottages each offers 2,150 square feet of space, along with private decks, sunken hot tubs, outdoor rain showers, and views of the Channel Islands. However, if you really want to spread out, book the Warner Cottage (owner Ty Warner’s signature villa), which features two master bedrooms, an expansive living room, full kitchen, and outdoor area with a 33-foot pool and barbecue facilities. All rooms come with their own gated entries, enclosed gardens, private cottage-side parking, and private patios with rain showers and sunken hot tubs.

To do: Explore the nearby wineries or the tony Montecito streets, or just unwind and never leave the grounds.

Post-COVID-19 operations: The staff wears masks at all times, while guests are asked to wear masks when interacting with staff and other guests.

Is the pool open? Yes

From $1,145; sanysidroranch.com

The Gardena cottage at San Ysidro Ranch, one of the 500-acre property’s 41 accommodations.

The Kennedy Cottage overlooks the ocean.

The private pool at the Ty Warner Cottage.

Rancho Valencia 

Location: About 100 miles south of Los Angeles and 25 miles north of downtown San Diego. The 45-acre property is set among lush gardens, trails, and olive groves, just seven miles east of Del Mar Beach.

Accommodations: All 49 rooms are casitas, with their own garden patios overlooking the surrounding olive groves and canyons—as well as their own HVAC systems; about one-third have their own private outdoor hot tubs. The 2012 renovation was overseen by designer Todd-Avery Lenahan, with a budget of $30M. Book one of the privately owned villas for 3,500 square feet of space with plunge pool and outdoor fireplace, or the 5,000-square-foot Hacienda, complete with three bedrooms, a full kitchen, woodburning fireplaces in every room, and private pool.

To do: While the resort is still finalizing its reopening plan, the property is known as a fitness haven, with a line-up of 95 fitness classes each week, including TRX, yoga, Pilates, and tennis on its 18 tennis courts.

Post-COVID-19 operations: The property is accepting reservations from July 1. New protocols include: contact-free parking and check in; methodical sanitation of all casitas with CDC-approved virucidal agents; dining has been socially distanced; and the famous Pony Room is by reservation only.

From $595; ranchovalencia.com

The 5,000-square-foot Hacienda is Rancho Valencia’s most luxe accommodation.

One of the Hacienda’s bedrooms.

The Hacienda’s private pool.

Justin Vineyards & Winery 

Location: About 180 miles north of Los Angeles on the 101 and about 30 miles inland from the coast at Cambria. The 160-acre property includes vineyards primarily for Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as small lots for Merlot and Cabernet Franc. 

Accommodations: There are three one-bedroom suites at the JUST Inn, ranging from 600 to 1,200 square feet, each with Frette linens and spa tubs. The 1,400-square-foot Vintner’s Villa, a French country townhouse, includes a full kitchen, and the 12,000-square-foot, four-bedroom Justin Chateau sits on top of the hill overlooking the winery, although it is currently under renovation. 

To do: Wine tastings and vineyard tours are no-brainers in Paso Robles, but also make time for mountain biking, touring the craft distilleries and breweries, the temporary art/light installation Sensorio, and a day trip to the nearby Morro Bay for a taste of the Central Coast.

Post-COVID-19 operations: The winery will follow CDC and state guidelines for tasting rooms once they are released. Currently the JUST Inn is accepting guests, and the tasting room is welcoming guests by reservation only.

Is the pool open? No pool

From $300; justinwine.com

The living room at the JUST inn, one of the accommodations at Justin Winery.

The surrounding vineyards.