Otherworldly natural landscapes, dynamic cities, relaxing spa resorts and beachfront escapes…there is something to that “West Coast, Best Coast” saying. And with such variety of scenery 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
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 perfect all-season escape.
Where to stay: Options include the adults-only L’Horizon Resort and Spa, a 1952 hotel that was transformed into a premiere luxury hideaway; 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. 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 top-notch pizza, homemade pasta and Thursday night live music. 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—and now there’s a stunning new place to spend the night.
Where to stay: Set on 16 acres sandwiched between the beach and the mountains, Rosewood Miramar Beach (an Indagare Index hotel) 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.
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 will welcome its first guests later this fall. Expect spacious rooms with fireplaces and vineyard views, an on-site winery and two pools (one for families). Meadowood, long an Indagare member favorite, has reopened its southern portion, after much of the property was destroyed in wildfires. Nearby, the equally luxe Auberge du Soleil offers a relaxing romantic escape, with its outdoor pool looking out over the valley below.
In Sonoma, the new 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 still.
Where to eat: 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.
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. Across Highway 1, Ventana Big Sur is a woodsier experience (there’s even glamping), though no less luxurious.
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 closed for dinner).
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.
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: The best hotel in the area is The Allison Inn & Spa, 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: Jory, the farm-to-table restaurant at The Allison, is one of the Willamette Valley’s top restaurants for a special occasion. Its seasonal, farm-to-table 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.