LA COSTA RESORT AND SPA
2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad; 760-438-9111, lacosta.com. Rooms: $180$475. Suites: $360$2,500.
La Costa's recent $140 million makeover has brought refinement to the resort. It also gave birth to the new $12 million spa (home of the Golf Champion's massage) and Dr. Deepak Chopra's Chopra Center (home of spiritual fulfillment and such). Guests also enjoy impeccably prepared classic local and spa cuisines from Legends California Bistro's patio, which overlooks La Costa's two courses.
THE LODGE AT TORREY PINES
11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla; 858-453-4420, lodgetorreypines.com. Rooms: $375$625. Suites: $900$3,500.
This AAA five-diamond hotel overlooks both Torrey Pines' recently renovated South course and the Pacific Ocean. A 173-room architectural wonder, it is an authentic re-creation of early-twentieth-century California Craftsmanstyle homes. Stickley-style furnishings, Tiffany lamps and original California-landscape paintings adorn both the suites and the lobby; a fine spa and two restaurants exceed all expectations. Scents of eucalyptus waft from the adjacent Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. Hint: Book now for the 2008 U.S. Open.
MONTAGE RESORT & SPA
30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; 949-715-6000, montagelagunabeach.com. Rooms: $490$795. Suites: $1,200$5,500.
California's newest and most luxurious beach getaway, this stunning oceanfront resort provides the ideal restorative setting for Hollywood's rich and famous (Pierce Bronson says it's his favorite hotel) or anyone ready for serious pampering. Features a 20,000-square-foot spa, three sparkling swimming pools, the world-class Studio restaurant, a museum-quality collection of early-California impressionist paintings—there's even a sporty nine-hole golf course just a half mile down the road.
RANCHO BERNARDO INN
17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, San Diego; 858-675-8501, ranchobernardoinn.com. Rooms: $199$299. Suites: $350$700.
As guests drive through the entrance at this intimate resort, they are transported from a San Diego suburb into a place where time stands still. Family owned, lushly landscaped and refreshingly understated, the Rancho Bernardo pays astute attention to the very adult needs of privacy and relaxation. Imagine a stately California country club without the backstabbing member gossip, and you'll grasp the Shangri-la-like ambience of this retreat.
ST. REGIS RESORT, MONARCH BEACH
One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point; 949-234-3200, stregismb.com. Rooms: $485$775. Suites: $895$5,500.
This four-hundred-room resort sits on 172 beachfront acres. Tuscan-inspired architecture and Mediterranean ambience inform the property at every step, from its arched doorways and hallways to its balconies, fountains and terraces. A resort tram allows guests quick access to the adjacent beach, where it's possible to enjoy the fine oceanfront dining of the private Monarch Bay Beach Club. The facility's extraordinary 30,000-square-foot Spa Gaucin, with a salon and state-of-the-art fitness center, ratchets up the relaxation several notches.
(Californian) 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla; 858-777-6635. $$$$
Housed in the Lodge at Torrey Pines, this romantic eatery shares that structure's dark, wood-paneled California Craftsman furnishings and spectacular views. Famed chef Jeff Jackson prepares food with minimal handling and maximum artistry and care for a menu that features the best of California's produce, seafood and meats. An extensive wine list focuses exclusively on the Golden State's best labels.
(Contemporary American) 900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach; 949-721-1222. $$$
Sophisticated and chic, albeit comfortable with a neighborhood-bistro atmosphere, this Newport Beach restaurant presents eclectic contemporary American cuisine, nightly jazz and regularly changing displays of contemporary artwork. The prime certified Angus beef New York steak with balsamic onion confit all but begs for one of the reds from the restaurant's five hundred international wine choices.
CANNERY SEAFOOD OF THE PACIFIC
(Seafood) 3010 LaFayette Avenue, Newport Beach; 949-566-0060. $$$$
Old meets new in this recently renovated restaurant on the site of one of America's first fish canneries. Today this lively spot overlooks Newport Harbor, now chockablock with pricey yachts. Specializing in wood-grilled seafood delivered fresh daily, the Cannery also offers fine prime rib, juicy steaks and a hip sushi bar. Guests can dine on the outside patio or indoors under funky jellyfish-tendrilled chandeliers.
(Gourmet French) Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, San Diego; 858-675-8550. $$$$
The elegant, old-world Spanish-style El Bizcocho earns the San Diego Zagat's top ratings for food, service and decor. With precision and warmth, its staff delivers chef Gavin Kaysen's multicourse classical French fare and seasonally based, wine-paired tasting menus. Stick around for the scrumptious Sunday champagne brunch.
(Pacific Rim/Eclectic) 875 Prospect Street, La Jolla; 858-551-5252. $$$$
Roppongi, named after Tokyo's trendy nightclub district, marries exotic flavors from the Far East, Mediterranean, Middle East and Latin America in dishes such as the Polynesian crab stack—a refreshing postmodernist potpourri of mango, pea shoots, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, avocado and peanuts, garnished with a spicy ginger-lime dressing and compressed into a tower of savory power.
(Modern French/Californian) Montage Resort & Spa, 30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach; 949-715-6030. $$$$
An homage to an artist's workspace, this stunning eatery sits on a fifty-foot bluff directly over the Pacific that inspires both the epicure's palate and the painter's palette. Chef James Boyce brilliantly integrates French fare, fresh seafood and the citrusy textures of California cuisine into a multicultural eclecticism that reflects the state's diversity.