Courtesy of Rancho Valencia

A low-key and upscale town near San Diego.

Travel + Leisure
December 02, 2014

This inland suburb of San Diego is an exclusive enclave of ranches and resorts. Inspired by a Spanish village, the affluent community exudes charm, and drew Hollywood types like Bette Davis and Bing Crosby, back in the day. Eucalyptus groves, elegant mansions, a top-notch golf course, a tradition of horseback riding, a collection of boutiques along the main street—plus, a refreshingly genuine laid-back vibe—make this a unique getaway.

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

The all-suite Rancho Valencia Resort opened in 1989 in a bougainvillea-and-hibiscus-filled canyon 25 miles north of San Diego and remains southern California’s only Relais & Château property. A recent $30 million renovation added two restaurants and a bar, as well as a yoga pavilion, an expanded fitness center with more than 75 classes weekly (including an award-winning tennis program), and the Amala organic skincare line. The 10,000-square-foot spa has only one goal—pure pampering—and overlooks a courtyard with a serenity fountain. Couples can partake of a variety of treatments, including aromatic baths and terra-cotta clay bakes.

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Take an exhilarating morning hike through the home of the nation’s rarest pine trees as well as sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla Point.

Spa at Rancho Valencia

Located about 25 miles north of San Diego, the 16,000-square-foot Spa at Rancho Valencia Resort has four terra-cotta-and-adobe casitas that house 10 treatment suites, as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center, complete with cardio and weight-lifting equipment and an Apparatus Pilates Studio. The spa menu has a selection of massages, body treatments, and facials that use pure essential oils and fresh ingredients that are often picked from the hillside behind the spa. Packages include a Time for Two, which begins with an outdoor bath for two in a private garden suite, a hot stone massage, rejuvenating foot treatment, and a lavender and lemon verbena hair and scalp conditioning treatment.

Restaurant at Rancho Valencia

The hushed, secluded setting makes it perfect for an intimate dinner. Try the Kobe carpaccio with toasted capers, Pecorino Romano, and summer truffle.

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