Choose Your Adventure:
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
This year-old resort is modern, sexy, and sleek. But it’s not just about cool cocktails and the taco bar by the beach. It’s a water wonderland. Start at the three-tiered infinity-edge pool, a 150-yard stretch that’s separated into kid, family, and adult segments, with plenty of cabanas along the sides. If you’re craving a drink, a bartender is in the pool (not by the pool—in the pool) every afternoon with a floating bar.
A comprehensive water sports center, called the H2O Cave, is carved into a bluff and loaded with complimentary equipment for stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, and over-water biking. They can also arrange sunrise paddleboard yoga and kayak tours.
Once you’re ready to get on dry land again, check out the 18-hole championship golf course, or fitness classes like Reformer Pilates and TRX that rival those at boutique studios. At the spa, save time before your treatment for the salt inhalation room, aromatherapy steam room, and hydrotherapy pool. Your little ones won’t mind if you take a little "me time"; they can run wild at the Pescaditos Kids Club, a babysitter-equipped facility with an aquarium, painting station, and cooking classes.
Even with all these attractions, we won’t judge you if you stay put in your room. They’re spacious— 885 square feet in all 60 guest rooms, or up to 11,000 in the 32 villas—and all have floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies, soaking tubs, and outdoor showers.
From $675; Travel time: 2 hours by plane
Catalina Island, California
It’s the quickest way to get to the Italian Riviera—or a look-alike 26 miles off the coast of Dana Point. Start your getaway at this hotel’s lush courtyard with breakfast in the morning or wine when the sun goes down. The new Catalina Aerial Adventure is a ropes course with five trails of balance beams and zip lines suspended over a canyon. On the other side of the island in Two Harbors, settle into a palapa at the revamped Harbor Sands resort.
From $191; Travel time: 1 hour by car + 1 hour by boat
The most oceanfront of all Maui luxury resorts just got a $100 million facelift, which includes a new playground for the little ones. Wailea’s Nalu Adventure Pool has a 325-foot waterslide, splash zones, and a food truck serving poke and shaved ice. Or hop into four other pools on the property, like the adults-only Maluhia with plush cabanas or two new oceanfront infinity edge options. Other notable revamps include a kids’ club and a restaurant from celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi.
From $519; Travel time: 6 hours by plane
Newport Beach, California
Beyond three outdoor pools, a splash pad, and a waterslide, the hotel also offers water guns and beach kit rentals with a pail, shovel, and other toys. It’s a five-minute walk to Back Bay for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and even bird-watching—it’s one of the top spots in the country to spot peregrine falcons. Or hit the Back Bay Loop Trail, a 10.5-mile path for walkers and cyclists.
From $199; Travel time: 1.5 hours by car
Santa Fe, New Mexico
True, after landing in Albuquerque, you have to drive an hour to get to Santa Fe. But once you check into Sunrise Springs, you’ll be sequestered in high desert serenity. It’s basically summer camp for health-minded grown-ups: You make kombucha, cook with ancestral ingredients, navigate your chakras, cleanse in the sweat lodge, paint, meditate, do yoga, and garden. But for the mic drop of healing, sign up for Animal Interactions, where you literally play with puppies—from teaching them basic commands and preparing future assistance dogs for duty to taking them through agility courses. (Or just rubbing their bellies.)
Even walking around the property’s 70 verdant acres is therapeutic. There are trails, gardens, a saltwater pool, 32 garden-view rooms, and 20 higher-end casitas each with a private courtyard and gas fireplace. All accommodations are minimally furnished with Native American textiles and can be booked à la carte or lumped into themed packages, like a girlfriend getaway or couple’s retreat.
The spa menu is appropriately luxe—there’s the Kokopelli Prenatal Massage, named after a Native American god of fertility, a cannabidiol oil (CBD) treatment, and a blue corn and prickly pear salt scrub to slough off all the dryness. There’s also an integrative doctor on site who hosts one-on-one tea talks with guests ($79 for 25 minutes). She can talk wellness goals, diagnose sleep issues, and more.
From $205; Travel time: 1.5 hours by plane + 1 hour by car
Park City, Utah
Just 1.5 miles from downtown, this skiers-only resort (sorry, snowboarders) still feels like a quiet retreat. There’s a cap on the number of daily tickets, so slopes typically aren’t crowded. All the better to enjoy the exclusive ski-in and ski-out access on the well-groomed terrain, which has beginner, intermediate, and expert tracks. They’ve launched new packages, including a bobsledding experience with Olympians and a group ski excursion with Paralympic Hall of Fame skier Chris Waddell.
From $699; Travel time: 2 hours by plane
Big Sur, California
This New Age sanctuary may have clean, summer-camp-like digs, but they’re known for their transcendent workshops. This month the roundup includes "The Path to Forgiveness," "Creating Mindful Sexual Experiences," and "The Craft and Art of Effective Memoir Writing." There’s Wi-Fi at the lodge, though it’s turned off during mealtimes, and there’s no cell service. You won’t miss it when you’re soaking in the cliffside sulfur springs.
From $420 for a sleeping bag during weekends to $900 for a double-accommodation house for weeklong sessions; Travel time: 9 hours by car or 1.5 hours by plane + 1 hour by car
There’s the Pacific to the west, redwoods to the east, and wildflowers everywhere in between. At this two-year-old resort located on a private 2,000-acre preserve, you can hike 20 miles of trails, soak in a hot tub atop a water tower, and feast on organic meals. There are also cute shops and wine tastings in town. It’s ideal in the spring, when the whales are migrating close to the coast and the summer crowds have yet to descend.
From $350; Travel time: 2 hours by plane + 2.5 hours by car
San Francisco, California
Leave it to designer Kelly Wearstler to create an Elle Decor–worthy hotel. Open since September, the Beaux-Arts-style property set in a flatiron building has all the detail and color you’d expect from the award-winning Wearstler. It also has a trendy address in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood in the midst of renewal. (As with any emerging part of town, expect some sketch alongside the progressive development.)
The lobby feels like your cool friend’s living room, with local artwork and midcentury modern furniture. What the 131 rooms lack in size (this is San Francisco, after all) they make up for with style—think urban sophistication meets Old World grandeur. We don’t condone stealing, but there are Aesop products in the bathroom, so save space in your suitcase.
Villon, the ground-floor restaurant led by James Beard–nominated chef Jason Franey (ex–Eleven Madison Park), serves avocado toast for breakfast, falafel and foie gras torchon for lunch, and a $120 ribeye for dinner, plus a cocktail menu that’s 49 drinks deep. The restaurant is sometimes flooded with locals, but you can head to Charmaine’s, the open-air garden rooftop where hotel guests have priority access. Cheers to that.
From $400; Travel time: 8.5 hours by car or 1.5 hours by plane
Opened in December 2016 a half mile from downtown, this boutique getaway in a historic 1865 building was once the home of Nashville’s most famous shoemaker. Now it has six rooms, a courtyard, a private rooftop, and funky design. Each suite is named after and takes design inspiration from a former US president. For instance, The Jefferson contains a swivel chair, one of that president’s inventions, and is geared toward the business traveler.
From $249; Travel time: 3.5 hours by plane
West Hollywood, California
LA can be a day trip, but we recommend an overnight bag for this one. Kimpton’s newest has 105 rooms, a panoramic rooftop, and in-room bottle service. And just when you thought no one walks in LA, it’s a short stroll to Verve Coffee Roasters, upscale vegan Mexican at Gracias Madre, and Au Fudge, a kid-friendly restaurant stylish parents can get behind.
From $450; Travel time: 2.5 hours by car
Originally called Roosevelt Hotel and built in 1929, the art deco Theodore is a revamped take on the downtown landmark. On display are photos, drawings, and artifacts like Amazon’s first Kindle, curated in collaboration with the city’s Museum of History & Industry. Each room comes with a pair of rain jackets because, well, Seattle.
From $165; Travel time: 3 hours by plane
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
One of the West Coast’s most exciting wine regions is just a hop, skip, and jump across the border. Valle de Guadalupe, two hours south of downtown, touts over 150 wineries pouring mostly red blends, and the restaurants and hotels are now commanding just as much attention.
One of the buzziest is Bruma, an inn started by eight childhood friends. Last May it opened its own restaurant, Fauna, which is decked out in communal tables, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open kitchen led by chef David Castro Hussong, who previously worked at Noma in Copenhagen and New York’s Eleven Madison Park. The seafood-heavy menu—you can order à la carte or prix fixe—has modern riffs on traditional ingredients, like nopales tostadas, asparagus-seaweed gazpacho, and duck sopes. There’s wine, beer, cocktails, and mezcal, or you can head next door to their winery. It’s a showstopper designed by famed Mexican architect Alejandro D’Acosta, with a 300-year-old oak tree at its center and a recycled tree trunk that doubles as a bar table.
D’Acosta designed the accommodations, too. Dubbed Casa Ocho, the eight rooms incorporate Valle’s natural environment, with live-edge wood furniture, bedrooms built into boulders, and large windows that let in natural light. The common areas include a pool and a lobby with an honor-system bar.
Next for 2018? An equestrian club, spa, wine cellar, and mountainside villas.
From $295; Travel time: 2 hours by car
After last fall’s wildfires devastated the area, it’s your oenophilic duty to support the wine region’s local economy. And at this five-acre property, it’s not just farm-to-table; it’s outside-your-window-to-table, with orchards, greenhouses, olive trees, beehives, and chicken coops on site. There are five rooms; breakfast for two is included, and dinner here is an 11-course extravaganza. Pack stretchy pants.
From $800; Travel time: 2 hours by plane
Los Alamos, California
Forty-five minutes north of Santa Barbara, this hipster lodge from the team behind Ojai Rancho Inn has 21 rooms with a charming wine bar and a picnic-friendly communal area where guests often convene at night. It’s also a short walk or drive to Los Alamos’s burgeoning food scene. Sip biodynamic wines at Martian Ranch & Vineyard, dig into artisanal loaves at Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, and try the seasonal menu at Full of Life Flatbread.
From $119; Travel time: 5 hours by car
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
With five excellent restaurants on site—one led by two-star Michelin chef Sidney Schutte—this resort takes all-inclusive to the next level. The luxury chain’s newest venture, situated on the coast just north of Cabo San Lucas, prides itself on being able to accommodate any dietary restriction without compromising culinary quality. Bring your vegan and gluten-averse friends.
From $548; Travel time: 2 hours by plane
Unless you went to college in a big city, a revisit to your alma mater usually means staying at a nondescript chain hotel. That’s what Graduate Hotels wanted to change when they launched in 2014. Their niche is creating cool, quirky boutique properties in college towns geared toward students, families, and alumni. Think millennial-cool versus Marriott.
Each location honors the town’s history, culture, and ties to its university. Graduate Tempe, the brand’s inaugural property, pays tribute to Arizona State’s impressive life sciences and human origins work. There’s a digital print of Darwin’s Origin of Species in the lobby, Native American pieces sourced by the university’s art department, and a large-scale ant farm created in partnership with ASU’s Social Insect Research Group.
You’ll find Southwestern-appropriate oranges, pinks, reds, and yellows, along with a retro diner and a poolside Mexican cantina. There are 141 rooms, all with patios facing either the campus or the neighborhood (for a quieter stay), and interior design that’s bold and colorful. Perks include free bike rentals and a shuttle into town, and there’s no room charge for four-legged friends. In fact, your pup will get a complimentary BarkBox gift package as well as a bowl and blanket for the stay.
From $129; Travel time: 5.5 hours by car or 1 hour by plane
This low-key getaway is set on Moonstone Beach, a relatively untouched area two hours north of Santa Barbara with tide pools, a boardwalk, and water sports. There are also Linus Bike rentals at the hotel, and it’s a short drive to Hearst Castle and other landmarks. Don’t miss a visit to Piedras Blancas, a protected beach that’s home to a rookery of elephant seals in late winter and early spring. Mating season peaks around Valentine’s Day… enough said.
From $179; Travel time: 6 hours by car
Mammoth Lakes, California
What used to be a sleepy mountain town has morphed into a full-blown, family-friendly venue with 300 days of sunshine a year. These cozy chalets in the woods are individual slope-side ski-in ski-out cabins with full kitchens and fireplaces. Make sure to visit Woolly’s for snow tubing, the upscale Mammoth Rock N Bowl alley, and the great ski school program at the main lodge (worth the hefty price tag).
From $255; Travel time: 7 hours by car or 1.5 hours by plane
From this nautical-themed hotel, it’s a five-minute walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and 1.5 miles to the famed Monterey Bay Aquarium, with plenty more for kids to do in between. The hotel’s Portola Pirates Program for kids includes a self-guided treasure hunt throughout the property, and an Aquarium package bundles tickets, accommodations, and breakfast.
From $169; Travel time: 7.5 hours by car or 1.5 hours by plane
Palm Springs, California
Just a block from the main drag of North Palm Canyon Drive sits this charming 57-room hotel fresh off a $2 million renovation. It’s Palm Springs—Spanish Colonial architecture and looming mountains in the distance—without the Palm Springs scene. No Coachella crowd here. It’s a mix of couples, girlfriend getaways, and four-legged friends. (They’re known for frequently having more canines than kids.)
First opened in 1936, the property was owned by the Purple Gang of Detroit, who ran illegal gambling and alcohol shenanigans in the basement. Nearly 20 years later it was taken over by Robert Howard (son of Seabiscuit owner Charles Howard) and his wife, Oscar-nominated actress Andrea Leeds Howard. The Hollywood glitterati came pouring in. Frank Sinatra lived here part-time.
Today, nearly every inch of the three-acre property has been spruced up, from in-room furnishings—the tile work circa 1930 remains intact—to the Purple Palm, a farm-to-table restaurant with Moroccan-inspired design. Every Saturday night you can listen to live Spanish guitar by the pool. And at the spa, book the 90-minute Desert Rain Moisture treatment, a hydrating massage, facial, and scalp combo ($235) that’s a savior after the dry-as-bone Santa Ana winds.
In the nearby Uptown Design District, try smoothies and grain bowls at Mid Mod Cafe, or visit Workshop Kitchen + Bar for a chic dinner with ingredients like dehydrated bougainvillea powder.
From $298; Travel time: 2 hours by car
Paradise Valley, Arizona
Renovations just wrapped at this boutique resort three miles from Scottsdale. The design is Palm Springs meets the Southwest, with midcentury-inspired decor, in-room cocktail carts, and Hollywood history (The Monkees filmed here). You can hit the links at their par-3, 18-hole course, or take a complimentary Tesla to nearby Camelback Golf Club.
From $239; Travel time: 5.5 hours by car or 1 hour by plane
Borrego Springs, California
This serene desert oasis has 44 poolside rooms, 19 casitas, and a location surrounded by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where stargazing is world-class. The vibe is elegant but laid-back—a definite upgrade from a campsite. When you’re not hiking the trails, the hotel has five lighted tennis courts, two pickleball courts, three pools, and a spa.
From $129; Travel time: 2 hours by car
High Design in the Desert
Palm Springs, California
Modernism Week returns to Palm Springs February 15–25 with home tours, seminars, parties, and other events for architecture and design geeks. At the Palm Springs Art Museum, more than 250 Andy Warhol prints, including Campbell’s Soup I: Tomato and Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn), are on display March 3 through May 28.
Travel time: 2 hours by car