10 great one-night escapes

These 24-hour getaways will leave you feeling like you’ve been gone a week

Palm Springs trip

Photo by Paul Costello

2 hours from L.A.: Party at the pool in Palm Springs

1PM: A cute waiter cruises by while you catch rays on a canopied rope lounge chair at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club and soak up views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

3PM: After a hot rock massage ($110 for 60 minutes), flag down that waiter for a snow cone spiked with vodka, followed by a catnap in a shaded hammock.

5PM: Poolside happy hour gets going with margaritas from the Amigo Room ($$) paired with killer fish tacos―and lasts until the desert sky turns dark and the stars start to twinkle.

See one of the rooms next.

short vacations

Photo by Paul Costello

2 hours from L.A.: Stylish digs at Palm Springs' Ace Hotel

Inside Palm Spring's Ace Hotel.

10AM: After you roll out of bed in your stylish digs, treat yourself to ricotta hotcakes at the King’s Highway ($), the hotel’s refurbed Denny’s gone locavore.

Snap a few pics in the lobby photo booth before heading out.

From $149; 760/325-9900.

Spend the night in Santa Cruz

Photo by Jennifer Martiné

45 minutes from San Jose: Hit the beach in Santa Cruz

1PM: On your way to the ocean, swing by the Swift Street Courtyard. Some of the Santa Cruz Mountains’ best wineries have set up tasting rooms here, including Bonny Doon Vineyard ($$$; closed Mon–Tue; 328 Ingalls St.; 831/425-6771), with its upscale cafe―perfect for a “light” lunch of, say, spring goat, carrot quinoa, and smashed peas and shoots.

For something more casual, Kelly’s French Bakery ($; 402 Ingalls, Ste. 19; 831/423-9059) has crisp salads and patio tables.

5PM: Grab a candy sucker from the lobby of the retro-chic Santa Cruz Dream Inn, and head out for a sunset stroll along cypress-lined West Cliff Drive, where wetsuit-clad surfers (of, impressively, all ages) tackle some serious waves.

At Aquarius, the hotel’s window-walled restaurant, begin with an artful cocktail, then try the roasted halibut in a Pernod-tomato broth swimming with mussels and chorizo. From $189, restaurant $$$; 831/426-4330.

8AM: Wake up with a view of the Pacific from your pillow, dunk in the heated outdoor pool, then head back to Aquarius for what has to be the best huevos rancheros north of the border.

10AM: If watching paddleboarders glide on glassy water leaves you itching to give it a go, rent a board (and instructor) across the street at Cowell’s Surf Shop. $80 for gear and lesson; 30 Front St.; 831/427-2355.

Travel to San Diego

Photo by Andrea Gómez

1½ hours from Orange County: Rooftop relaxation in San Diego

2PM: Even a quick trip needs some new threads. Or at least fun vintage finds from San Diego.

Stop by Frock You for everything from ’60s feather bedroom slippers to ’80s glam-rock snakeskin boots. Closed Mon–Tue; 4121 Park Blvd.; 619/ 220-0630.

5PM: Zoom up to the Phi Terrace on the ninth floor of Hotel Indigo, pull up a couple of wicker chairs around the firepit, and order a local microbrew or two and a few appetizers (far better than the $5 fries you’d get at the ballpark)―then wait for the first pitch across the street at Petco Park. From $180, restaurant $$; or 619/727-4000.

9AM: If you sleep in any later, you won’t get one of the window tables at Cafe Chloe, a Parisian-style bistro in downtown San Diego’s East Village.

Settle in to enjoy the street scene while noshing on house-cured salmon gravlax tartine washed down with a pomegranate mimosa. $; 721 Ninth Ave.; 619/232-3242.  

1 day trip from portland, or

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez

1 hour from Portland: Bike and bend around Vernonia, OR

2PM: Pedal the Doug fir–lined Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a 21-mile (one way) mostly paved path that gently winds through forests and over 12 bridges, including an 80-foot-high railroad trestle. 503/324-0606.

6PM: Pull in for a dinner of wild salmon, asparagus, and lemon pound cake at the new Coastal Mountain Sport Haus. Then stargaze, unwind in the spa, and sleep―oh so soundly.

8AM: Rise for yoga overlooking a meadow. From $175, including meals, spa access, and yoga; two-night minimum waived for Sunset readers; 503/429-6940

Travel to Truth or Consequences

Photo by Noah Webb

2½ hours from Albuquerque: Soak in Truth or Consequences

3PM: In Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, check into a renovated room at Blackstone Hotsprings Lodging & Baths (from $75)―each with a 110° hot spring tub. After a long soak, break out a book on your patio or in the palm-lined courtyard.

7PM: For dinner, wander over to Cafe BellaLuca ($$$; closed Tue; 303 Jones St.; 575/894-9866) for grilled pizza with roasted garlic, then take in a first-run film for just $5 at the 1930s El Cortez Theater (call for schedule; 415 Main St.; 575/894-4914). But don’t forget to take in the real stars above, back at the Blackstone courtyard.

Trips from Seattle, WA

Photo by John Granen

30 minutes from Seattle: Feast and sleep in Woodinville, WA

7PM: Tour the Herbfarm’s edible garden, nod hello to the pot-bellied pigs, then settle in for a nine-course ultra-seasonal meal prepared by chef Keith Luce. Wine and dine your way through the Northwest, from Samish Bay Dungeness crab to Oregon Wagyu beef tenderloin.

Still swooning over that 1795 Madeira, stumble across the road to the Willows Lodge. Dinner from $179 Thu–Sun (check  theherbfarm.com  for deals); 14590 N.E. 145th St. Rooms from $195; Sunset readers get $100 off Herbfarm suites (regularly from $345) Thu and Sun through Nov if booked with dinner; 425/424-3900.

Yoga retreat from Denver, CO

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez

2 hours from Denver: Seek out silence

3PM: To reach Shambhala Mountain Center, you have to drive through the Rockies―a peaceful journey in itself. But you’ll find true bliss hiking the trails that weave through these 600 acres of pine forests and meadows.

6:30PM: A buffet of soups and organic salads leaves you satisfied, but not stuffed. (You know, as it should be.)

8PM: With nothing to do but read by the fire, it’s early to bed in the lodge.

7AM: And early to rise. For tea on the patio, then yoga.

2PM: Tour the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, three floors of original Buddhist artwork and architecture. Then sit in silence inside, which is said to promote harmony and health―before it’s back to your daily grind. From $90 per person, including meals and tour; 888/788-7221.

Sedona day trip

2 hours from Phoenix: Splurge on a spa in Sedona

2PM: Lace up for a hike along Margs Draw Trail 163, a gentle 4-mile round-trip with views of red rock canyons through the piñon pines of Coconino National Forest ($5 per vehicle; 928/203-2900).

4PM: Check in to your hillside cottage at the recently expanded L’Auberge de Sedona, where you can wash off the dust in your alfresco shower. Later, wander over to the new Serenite Spa for an indulgent sage body wrap (or opt to have your massage creekside), then kick back on your private deck with a bottle of local wine. Rooms from $275, cottages from $525; spa treatments from $65; 800/905-5745

santa barbara attractions

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez

2 hours from LA: Bike from beach to winery in Santa Barbara

5PM: Tuck the car keys away once you pull into the two-story Presidio Motel, with its mid-century mod twist. Request room 14 for a peekaboo view of the mountains. From $139, including breakfast; 805/963-1355.

6PM: Choose a local wine from Cantwell’s Gourmet Market (1533 State St.; 805/966-3902), then uncork it on the Presidio’s rooftop before homemade pasta at Julienne ($$$$; closed Mon–Tue; 138 E. Canon Perdido St.; 805/845-6488).

9AM: Sign out a complimentary beach cruiser for a ride to the farmers’ market (8:30–12:30 Sat; Santa Barbara St. at Cota St.). Then cruise the beachside bike path to the harbor and the Santa Barbara Sailing Center (single kayak $10 per hour; 800/350-9090) for a paddle with the sea lions.

3PM: After lunch at Paradise Cafe ($$; 702 Anacapa St.; 805/962-4416), you’re ready for wine. A dozen tasting rooms have moved into downtown, saving you a winding ride into the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Pedal up to Santa Barbara Winery ($5 tasting fee; 202 Anacapa; 800/225-3633), then hit Oreana Winery (tastings from $7; 205 Anacapa, 805/962-5857).

San Francisco travel deal

Photo by Kodiak Greenwood

20 minutes from San Francisco: A room by the Golden Gate Bridge

6PM:  Cavallo Point is so close to the city, you could walk across the Golden Gate for a glass of bubbly on the porch, where rocking chairs and couches are positioned for a view of those red towers jutting above the Marin Headlands.

This WWI-era Army base turned luxe lodge has an Ultimate Date Night Package that―when you break it down―is quite a deal: $450 buys a four-course dinner for two at the elegant Murray Circle; breakfast the next morning; parking; and a room with a fireplace, original pressed-tin ceilings, and a front-row seat to the San Francisco skyline.

Plus, free yoga in the former base chapel and hikes around Marin County in between. Ultimate Date Night Package from $450; 415/339-4700.

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