Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is as close as it gets to living in staycation paradise year round. Except the one weekend I decided to publish this article, of course, because it’s raining all over the place, and we can’t really complain in good conscience because we are in the midst of a serious drought.
Anyway, most of the year here is nothing to complain about: an hour’s drive North and you have Napa and Sonoma wine country. Head South for the balmy, breezy atmosphere of quaint Carmel, Monterey and Santa Cruz. Take a trek deeper instate and find yourself in the secluded comforts of the California wilderness.
Here, February is far from frigid — even when it rains, making it the perfect time to take a quick trip without having to ever see snow on the ground. No wonder Valentine’s Day is a popular time for romantic getaways in one of Northern California’s many boutique luxury lodges, inns and ranches. Perhaps, too popular considering most of these delightful accommodations I researched thoroughtly, the crème de la crème of California romantic travel, are already booked for the weekend of February 14…
So save the date and look into making reservations for next year. It’s never too early to start brainwashing your boyfriend into thinking it was his idea to go on a romantic mini-vacation.
One of the world’s most luxurious rural hideaways, Calistoga Ranch is made up of a few freestanding lodges. These one- or two-bedroom love shacks offer ultimate privacy and the opportunity to get lost in the Ranch’s scenic surroundings. Take a hike, play bocce, swim in the pool, visit the wine cave or enjoy your own private patio. The lodges are equipped with hard wood floors, modern fixtures, indoor/outdoor showers and hot tubs. For the eco-conscious couples, consider that these sleek modern lodges were built off-site to better preserve the natural environment. Celeb guest: Natalie Portman
Manka’s Inverness Lodge
Talk about a cozy, coastal retreat. Manka’s Inverness Lodge is a bohemian lumberjack’s wet dream, a collection of cabins scattered in the Marin woodland hills. Michael Chabon once described it as, “the sweetest, quirkiest, most exquisite gem of a luxury inn.” That was all, of course, before the place burnt down in 2006. Although today much of the property’s original charm has been re-attained. The two rustic boathouse suites built in 1911 are particularly splendid and roomy. Foodies will also be pleased with the hyper-local ingredients used in room service. Celeb guest: Jake Gyllenhaal
Carmel Valley Ranch
When we think staycation, most San Franciscans venture North to Napa, which has created a mini-commotion around the wine and food scene up there. That leaves the Central Coast much unexplored, and the new standard of tranquility in California. The Carmel Valley Ranch is the pet project of billionaire investor John Pritzker and boutique hotel chain, Joie de Vivre. The Ranch is tucked away a few miles from the quaint town of Carmel, known for its provincial charm mixed with a sophisticated vibe. Equipped with most luxury resort amenities, including a golf course and tennis court, the Carmel Valley Ranch is truly a hidden gem trampled over only by the resident deer.
The Carneros Inn
This contemporary property in South Napa exudes effortlessness in a way that is rarely seen up in wine country. Most of the architecture in Napa follows a traditionally Tuscan design and tend to go over-the-top trying to make an impression, but the Carneros Inn looks like a rustic resort from a more-cheery version of American Gothic. The cottages are decorated tastefully minimalistic to match the pastoral ambiance. Accommodations include indoor/outdoor showers, private patios and gas heaters for when you need more than just your boyfriend’s body heat. Speaking of heat, the pool is heated year round so bring your bathing suit, even if visiting in frisky February.
Cavallo Point Lodge
Looking to hideout from San Francisco’s bustling scene but not quite ready to give up the city’s romantic allure? Visit Cavallo Point Lodge, the relaxing luxury resort in Sausalito, so close to San Francisco you will never miss (even if it’s just the tip) of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not to mention the panoramic vista of the city’s cool, white and grey stucco skyline, not a Trump Tower in sight. The Lodge consists of two different but complementary lodging options — historic and contemporary. The better of the two, the historic accommodations, consist of former residences for the military officers of Fort Baker, fully restored but retaining the home-y touches like porches and fireplaces.
Never in a million years did I ever think I would yearn to live in a barn. Farmhouse Inn, the family-owned, country-style stay in Russian River Valley, is the type of place I imagine God himself would like to take up a permanent residency. The six-acre estate has only 18 rooms, with an authentic 19-century barn housing the main luxury suites. I’m obsessed with the use of repurposed tree trunks and branches as lamp and table fixtures. Farmhouse Inn, however, seems to prioritize comfort over luxe with feather-topped beds, heated floors, a bath-salts bar, expansive walk-in closets and evening s’mores around the firepit. Plus, a Michelin-starred farm-to-table restaurant on-site. And I’m pretty sure the roosters conduct all the wake-up calls. Looking forward to God having us over for a slumber party.