10 great one-night escapes
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 ($$) paired with killer fish tacos―and lasts until the desert sky turns dark and the stars start to twinkle.
See one of the rooms next.
10AM: After you roll out of bed in your stylish digs, treat yourself to ricotta hotcakes at the King’s Highway ($), the hotel’s refurbed Denny’s gone locavore.
Snap a few pics in the lobby photo booth before heading out.
From $149; 760/325-9900.
For something more casual, Kelly’s French Bakery ($; 402 Ingalls, Ste. 19; 831/423-9059) has crisp salads and patio tables.
5PM: Grab a candy sucker from the lobby of the retro-chic Santa Cruz Dream Inn, and head out for a sunset stroll along cypress-lined West Cliff Drive, where wetsuit-clad surfers (of, impressively, all ages) tackle some serious waves.
At Aquarius, the hotel’s window-walled restaurant, begin with an artful cocktail, then try the roasted halibut in a Pernod-tomato broth swimming with mussels and chorizo. From $189, restaurant $$$; 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.
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 $$; or 619/727-4000.
9AM: If you sleep in any later, you won’t get one of the window tables at Cafe Chloe, a Parisian-style bistro in downtown San Diego’s East Village.
Settle in to enjoy the street scene while noshing on house-cured salmon gravlax tartine washed down with a pomegranate mimosa. $; 721 Ninth Ave.; 619/232-3242.
6PM: Pull in for a dinner of wild salmon, asparagus, and lemon pound cake at the new Coastal Mountain Sport Haus. Then stargaze, unwind in the spa, and sleep―oh so soundly.
8AM: Rise for yoga overlooking a meadow. From $175, including meals, spa access, and yoga; two-night minimum waived for Sunset readers; 503/429-6940.
7PM: For dinner, wander over to Cafe BellaLuca ($$$; 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.