If you’re looking to splurge, you’ve come to the right place.
California is the land of gold, and not just in the northern territory. There are high-end itineraries to be found everywhere—where will you go first?
1. City of Angels
Every hotel in Los Angeles has some kind of storied history of celebrity heartbreak and redemption, making them automatic high-end destinations. Chateau Marmont, for example, is extremely famous for its no-picture policy, its bungalows with private pools, and the hordes of paparazzi waiting to see who comes outside. But the hotel itself is more historic than lavish. Sunset Tower Hotel, on the other hand, has earned its place as the perennial host of Vanity Fair’s Oscar after party. Its restaurants, Tower Bar and The Terrace, are fantastic.
2. Central Coast
The Central Coast is a land of transition, the long link between fast-paced Southern California and the retreats of the foggy North. But more than that, the Pacific Coast Highway that forges this path is an itinerary in itself, one of the world’s premier road trips.
Start in Santa Barbara and take a nice long look at your last view of Southern California. The Biltmore comes with access to Coral Casino, while The Bacara Resort and Spa is a good way to spend your final days in the sun. The Pacific Coast Highway winds up the coast through Big Sur, also known as one of the most beautiful coastlines in America.
3. Wine Country
While San Francisco is always worth a visit, the wine fields of Napa Valley are the calm retreat from the hustle of city life. It’s a chance to focus less on the sights and sounds around you and more on the smells and tastes.
Napa Valley is a land of rolling rainbow hills, dotted by wineries and small towns, each and every one of them offering something new. It’s easy enough to tour—there are only a few roads that cut through the area (the 29, the 12, the 101), so visiting is just a matter of choosing a route and driving until you find a viewpoint or pull-off worth stepping on the brakes for.
4. High Sierra
Yosemite National Park is arguably the High Sierra’s shining star. You should consider backpacking and camping through the park regardless of the budget you’re traveling on, but for a luxury spot to come back to after an epic 10-hour hike, you can’t beat the Majestic Yosemite Hotel.
Next, get yourself north to Lake Tahoe. The mountain lake is cold, but when you’re being towed on a wakeboard and watching evergreens reflected in the glassy water, you probably won’t mind. And while there are camping opportunities and independent cabins aplenty in the area, you’ll probably want to check out the the Ritz at Northstar and book a massage to help work away the soreness from a day on the water.
5. Coachella / Palm Springs
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has become one of the most celebrated music festivals on Earth. If you go, stay in the Safari Tent. You’ll be given a personal clothe palace by a manmade lake five minutes from the festival entrance that includes two queen beds and personal hot shower. You’ll wake up every morning feeling like royalty. The festival itself includes VIP areas with premium access to the stages and fully stocked high-quality bars, and this is where you may just bump elbows with some of the same people you’ve been cheering onstage.
When the festival is over, you’ll be in prime position to hit up Palm Springs, a longstanding desert oasis for the rich and famous. Add in a few more days of recovery time at Palm Springs’ numerous day spas, golf courses, and tennis stadiums, and you’ll head home with an afterglow that lasts for months.
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