Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Planning your next beach vacation (or babymoon)? Set your sights on California. The beauty of the Pacific coastline is hard to put into words. Luckily, these properties speak for themselves. Our picks also promise dreamy design, stellar service, thoughtful amenities, and spellbinding vistas to fuel your wanderlust.
From boutique hotels to lavish resorts, these are the top spots for a seaside escape in the Golden State.
Shutters on the Beach
A celeb favorite, this Santa Monica icon is the only hotel in town that’s allowed to put chairs on the actual sand. Guests can take advantage of beach butlers, surf lessons, paddle tennis, volleyball, and yoga. Airy interiors, breezy balconies, and fresh seafood evokes classic Cape Cod with a touch of opulence. The sun-splashed pool deck, facing the Pacific Ocean, flaunts chaise lounges and private cabanas, and there’s also a decadent spa.
Kimpton Shorebreak Resort
The Kimpton Shorebreak Resort wins points for its laid-back vibe, surf-inspired accents, contemporary sensibility, and prime position steps from Huntington Beach (technically, the PCH separates it from the tides, but there are no buildings in between, so it’s the closest you can get). For workout buffs, the recently renovated 1,600-square-foot gym is equipped with Peloton bikes and an outdoor bouldering wall. On top of that, there are vinyasa and meditation sessions.
Sprawling 102 acres, Terranea Resort is a palatial playground on the Palos Verdes peninsula. The well manicured grounds are replete with four waterfront pools. Of those, Cielo Point (open seasonally) is reserved for the 18 and up crowd—swim, sip craft cocktails, dance to live music, or hang out in the shaded cabanas. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center and eight eateries. Don’t miss breakfast on the patio at Catalina Kitchen.
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara
One of the most gorgeous oceanfront getaways, The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara offers direct access to two miles of the American Riviera and an array of activities. Catch some rays, ride the waves on complementary boogie boards, or try a painting class. Looking to capture that picture-perfect moment? Few things are more breathtaking than sunrise over the bluffs. Do yourself a favor and wake up early. We promise, you won’t regret it.
Montage Laguna Beach
Sophisticated style, classy ambiance, and top-of the-line amenities make Montage Laguna Beach, situated along the golden shore, ideally suited for couples. Spend time sunbathing on the sand, chilling poolside, and indulging in customized therapies at the spa. Outdoorsy types can opt for leisurely nature walks or endorphin-boosting hikes. Afterwards, browse the racks at the on-site boutique and savor gourmet cuisine. Need a reco for date night? Studio impresses with its refined French-meets-SoCal fare and extensive vino selection.
The Sanctuary Beach Resort
Romance is in the air at this relaxing retreat, nestled on 19 acres of Monterey Bay real estate. The atmosphere is intimate and inviting. Cottages spill onto the majestic Marina Dunes. Start the day with a picnic basket delivered straight to your door. Enjoy scenic strolls, stress-relieving massages, sunset panoramas, and evening bonfires. Unwind with a glass of organic vino from the nearby Carmel Valley wineries or grab a cozy blanket and constellation guidebook for stargazing.
Hotel Casa Del Mar
Mediterranean grandeur meets coastal California charm at Hotel Casa Del Mar. An exclusive beach club in the 1920s, this bastion of luxury is distinguished by its elegance and timeless glamour. The Michael S. Smith-designed lobby displays iron-and-blown-glass light fixtures, Italian marble, and plush couches. Rooms are decorated with a blue-and-white color palette, hand-carved furnishings, woven area rugs, and sea-themed art. Spectacular views can be found throughout the guest quarters and public spaces.