When visiting a place for the very first time, sometimes with the right person, the whole town seems magical. Restaurants, sidewalk shops, parks for picnic, flower lined streets, wine tasting and live music.
Small California towns that have – walkable downtowns, historic buildings and museums, and/or hiking trails nearby – are top picks among active road trippers.
Often a few good overnights in a wonderful lodge can make the whole vacation totally worth it. Certain settings, like rivers, wilderness locations, or anything situated near the ocean is always top picks for Valentine’s Day.
most romantic towns: California
ANY hotel in Cambria
Moonlight Beach was made for Lovers
ANY hotel in Coronado
Historic seaside neighborhood, San Diego
Wylder Hotel, Hope Valley
Sierra Nevada, south of Lake Tahoe
On the Cheap:Romantic
Youth hostels have come a long way in recent years. Often referred to as backpackers hostels or travelers hostel, these are budget friendly accommodations – set up for those who don’t mind roughin it. While bunk beds and dorm rooms are typical, these facilities also have private room rentals for couples or solo travelers.
Oldest hotels in California, West Coast & Sierra Nevada Mts
While the well-known explorers Lewis and Clark were both freemasons and the first white men to walk across the continent; We are not interested in ‘Masonic Lodges’ of the West Coast. Nor any Worshipful Masters that came after.
The most interesting Historic Lodges of California are the ones located deep within nature, surrounded by grandeur and real wild beauty. The historic hotels in which we list have been accommodating guest for over 100 years.
Ideal locations, from rustic mountain cabins to impressive beach resorts, gold country inns to a desert oasis – this is Total Escape, California off the beaten path.
Amargosa Opera House
Death Valley Junction, CA
760-852-4441 Historic mining location; Mojave Desert, east of DVNP
The Julian Hotel
Julian Gold Rush Hotel
2032 Main Street Julian, California
East San Diego Mountains Oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California
Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Ave Coronado Island, CA
West of downtown San Diego Wooden Victorian Beach Resort, facing the Pacific Oldest lodge on the West Coast, established 1888
U.S. Grant Hotel
326 Broadway Avenue San Diego, CA
619-232-3121 Downtown, directly across from Horton Plaza
These lush resorts listed below cater to crowds, offering food, wedding venue, party space, luncheon, gift shop and overnight accommodations. These huge wineries are popular places with large facilities, parking lots, golfing nearby and restaurants.
Bacara, Santa Barbara
8301 Hollister Ave
Goleta, CA 93117
Carneros Resort and Spa
4048 Sonoma Highway
Napa, CA 94559
Fess Parker’s Wine Country Inn
2860 Grand Ave
Los Olivos, CA
Total Escape has been focusing on the back roads of California for over 3 decades. We have researched, found and stayed over at some of the coolest cabins in the Golden State. Private vacation homes to fishing cabins, we have pretty much all of them listed.
Northern California is a well sought destination for secluded vacations.
“cheap cabin rentals in northern california”
Rustic fishing cabins, luxury on the lakeshore, cedar forests, romantic or remote hideaways, tent cabins, yurts and historic fire lookouts. We list mountains and rural locations.
SUMMER VS. WINTER
Not all cabin rentals are open for business during the winter months. Often the snow is too deep and the remote location may be inaccessible. Call ahead and talk to the innkeeper; know the weather forecast, before you make the drive. Always carry chains when driving in winter months.
Highest Sierra peaks are the tallest on the Sierra range and located along the eastern side of California, bordering near the state of Nevada. US Highway 395 runs the length. We advise staying overnight as far from the pavement as possible.
Kernville on the Kern River and Lake Isabella have some rentals, but the best bet around here is Alta Sierra, a cedar forest located above the lake. Paved Highway 155 winds up from Wofford Heights to the snowy ridges above. Shirley Meadows has family ski fun.
Rental homes and rustic cottages can be found on the western slopes, near the historic location called California Hot Springs. Expect oaks and pines with shady conditions in densely wooded neighborhoods.
The Coastal mountain ranges have a few cabin communities worth mentioning, some in the farmlands and others on the pine ridges. Numerous areas have recently been affected by wildfires: Santa Cruz Mountains, Shaver Lake & Huntington, and Mendocino.
The Big Sur Coast is a popular and often crowded destination which has a few cabin rentals. With redwood forests along the rocky and rugged coastline, outdoor recreation and scenic views are top priorities for most visitors.
Since the majority of the population is located in the bottom portion of the state, these ideal locations listed below will book up faster than “all the other cabins” in California. Drive further for a more secluded place and a whole new terrain.
A rare gem: a rustic river ranch in Baja California Mexico. Fully operational, clean hotel with great rates & home-cooked meals. Open year round.
This historic place is a living legend; well known throughout the tourists circles. A quaint, family run, secluded backcountry lodge – in the middle of nowhere. A motorcycle haven, well known w/ crowds. Hundreds of bikes, buggies, sand rails & jeeps each year make it to this lovely destination.
Also a popular destination for campers with the horses, 4×4 clubs, SUV travelers as well. No motorhomes, caravans of clueless, nor RVs should attempt this remote Baja location.
Mike’s Sky Ranch rests on a hillside overlooking the Arroyo San Rafael, which is a somewhat wooded river valley with steep, brush-covered mountains. The ranch offers motel-type accommodations for a very reasonable price: family-style meals, a swimming pool, horse-back riding, sycamore-shaded campsites. The individual hotel rooms are adequate with a bathroom, plus a variety of bed sizes & combinations.
The price is right. Mike’s Sky Ranch charges on a per person basis. The rental includes a bed, plus two meals:
dinner the night you arrive
breakfast the next morning
bring cash for bar drinks
bring snacks, lunches & own ice chest
Mikes Sky Ranch Reservations
write a letter:
667 Twining Ave.
San Diego, CA 92154
Call during the week Mon-Wed
phone # 011-52-664-68-15514
Ask about information regarding nearby day-trips to – the Oberservatory by vehicle or, on foot, into the rugged country to the east. A nice watrerfall is only 1 mile hike up the canyon. Depending on the year and waterflow, this may or may not be impressive. Small rainbow trout sometimes can be found in the river next to the ranch. Hunters may find deer, rabbit, & quail.
Imagine the remote, dirt, back roads of Baja Mexico. Dusty, bumpy, undeveloped & adventurous. Some areas may require 4 wheel drive depending on the rainfall & erosion at that time. Road conditions can change from year to year, so come prepared. Although a 2WD truck or SUV can easily make it all the way out to the infamous Mike’s Sky Rancho, it may not always be the case. Let’s just say on a heavy winter rainy season, beware. You may wanna see just how deep that river crosing really is before attempting that last obstacle.
The swimming pool is clean & the properties water source is straight from the mountains via the year round flowing river next door. Camping out is an option down by the river.
There is a small bar that is open nighly; but please don’t expect poolside Palm Springs style service. This is a rustic place that caters more to the ‘roughin’ it’ types.
Getting there is half the fun. I wouldn’t try your first visit arriving at night, since the small dirt roads can get confusing with limited signage. There are no telephone poles out here, or even electricity wired this far out, so the small ranch uses a generator every night from dusk until 10pm. “Man, when that generator goes off. Poof … the stars come on!”
MSR Baja California MX
Located approx. 50-60 miles; south east of Ensenada, Baja south off MX Hwy 3
DIRECTIONS: From Ensenada & Hwy. 3 East bound: This road to Mike’s begins at signed junction 10-11 miles south east of Valle de Trinidad. High-clearance vehicles are necessary; 4WD is not required. The entire route is on rough dirt roads. The first part rises over rural dry brush landscape & then decends down into a wooded river valley – where the resort is located. The overall mountainous region has few large trees & plenty of dust. The road becomes rougher as it winds down & approaches a junction at mileage 13.8. Bear left to continue 8 miles to the ranch. Creek crossings and river crossings, slow down!
The BAJA ALMANAC is by far the best back roads guide to Baja California MX. Numerous versions span from 1990-2001. May be difficult to find cuz it is out-of-print. Fast becomeing a collectors item, since so few can be found on the ‘used book market’