The Best Resort in California Is an All-inclusive 550-acre Ranch — With Access to 17 Miles of Walking Trails

The best resort in California, as voted on by Travel + Leisure readers, is San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito.

Aerial view of pool and putting green at San Ysidro Ranch
Photo: Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

At just 9.2 square miles and with fewer than 10,000 residents, Montecito, California, could easily fly under the radar, remaining undetected from the outside world. For the most part, it's remained a quiet, A-list-filled enclave. Truly, you'd be hard-pressed to find a home here you can score without being a daytime talk show host. But, there is at least one way you can visit — by booking a stay at San Ysidro Ranch, the best resort in California, according to Travel + Leisure 2022 World's Best Awards.

Located just 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, the Ranch unfolds right from its winding, tree-lined driveway that puts you in the right mood for a solitude-filled escape.

Pool at San Ysidro Ranch
Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

At the entrance, guests walk up the cobblestoned steps to see the quaint-looking resort for the first time, including its stunning landscaping with century-old olive trees, sycamores, and eucalyptus. Though we say "quaint looking," the property itself is far from small, encompassing some 550 acres of land along the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Between the foliage sits the Ranch's 38 intimate bungalow-style cottages, which have been frequented by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Justin Bieber, along with our own American royalty, John and Jacqueline Kennedy. And that's no surprise considering the Ranch's tagline is: "Where the seen come to be unseen."

Inside their cottage doors, guests will find unique décor, including antique goodies curated throughout the years, while outside, they'll find outdoor showers, plunge pools, and fire pits to make it all feel like a home away from home.

Living room at San Ysidro Ranch
Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

But, unlike home, you aren't required to lift a finger to do anything, including cooking, thanks to the Ranch's two restaurants: Stonehouse and Plow & Angel. There's also always something to sip on here, thanks to Stonehouse's 12,000-bottle cellar offering sought-after (and well-aged) California wines.

There's plenty to see and do around the Montecito area. However, if guests choose, they really never have to leave the Ranch as it features with a heated swimming pool, a new bar, the Salon & Spa at San Ysidro Ranch, which comes with a new outdoor patio for pampering in the fresh air, and for an additional fee, guests can reserve a golf experience at the new Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at the exclusive members-only Montecito Club.

Gardens and Exterior of San Ysidro Ranch
Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

For those who are disinterested in planning any part of their trip themself, the Ranch offers a few over-the-top experiential packages, including its new California Wine Country package made for oenophiles. The experience, which starts at $15,500 for two guests for four nights, includes a one-day bike rental and gourmet picnic basket on a self-guided tour of the best tasting rooms in town, a private cottage wine tasting with sommelier Tristan Pitre, a private wine tasting trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, a four-course dinner at Stonehouse, and a Vinatherapy Wine Wrap at the Salon & Spa.

Guests can also upgrade their stay by booking either the two-bedroom Kennedy Cottage, where John and Jackie Kennedy honeymooned or at the Ranch's owner Ty Warner's 6,000-square-foot signature villa, which comes with its own private swimming pool. For a party of two, pricing for three nights starts at $40,000 for the Kennedy Cottage or $50,000 for Warner Cottage. Both stays come with all-inclusive dining and one customized five-course dinner for two, an exclusive Balvenie scotch tasting for two, a daily activity like a sunset sail or private yoga, and a day of rejuvenation at the Salon & Spa.

Interior of Warner at San Ysidro Ranch
Ahmed Bouazzaoui/Courtesy of San Ysidro Ranch

Rates for San Ysidro Ranch begin at $2,495 a night with complimentary dining, complimentary parking, and no resort fees. Visit the resort's website for booking details.

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