Travel + Leisure Readers' 15 Favorite Resorts in California of 2024

Sun, surf, and relaxation await at the gorgeous West Coast hotels voted reader favorites in our “World’s Best Awards” survey for 2024.

<p>Courtesy of Mission Pacific Beach Resort</p>

Courtesy of Mission Pacific Beach Resort

Travelers seeking long, sunny days and serene evenings sipping their favorite wines can get both in one very special destination: California. The Golden State has long been a top spot for those looking for everything and anything they desire in a vacation — from a serene escape to an action-packed getaway. In California you can have it all, so long as you have the perfect hotel first.

How Voting Works

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Over 186,000 T+L readers completed the 2024 survey. A total of more than 700,000 votes were cast across over 8,700 properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).

Hotels were classified as either resort hotel, city hotel, inn, or safari lodge based on their location and amenities, and they were specifically rated on the criteria below:

  • Rooms/facilities

  • Location

  • Service

  • Food

  • Value

For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.

What Readers Loved

There are two distinct trends in the California hotels that readers are loving most this year: They’re either surfside or vineyard-side. Ten out of the 15 winners in this year's list sit close to the water's edge, while many of the remaining spots are wine country retreats. But even more specifically, in 2024, T+L readers said the further south, the better, with a host of hotels residing in San Diego County, including Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (No. 2), The Seabird Ocean Resort & Spa (No. 3), and Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa (No. 13).

This year's winner — and World's Best Awards newcomer — Mission Pacific Beach Resort is another San Diego County destination on the rise. Its Oceanside address ensures it's a beach lover's paradise, and one where you can live out all your SoCal fantasies, from dolphin spotting from your balcony to paddling out to the lineup next to some of the best surfers in the world. Read on for more California resorts that made our list of reader favorites.

The Winner

Mission Pacific Beach Resort: Oceanside, California

<p>Courtesy of Mission Pacific Beach Resort</p>

Courtesy of Mission Pacific Beach Resort

There's perhaps no place more emblematic of Southern California cool than the Mission Pacific Beach Resort in Oceanside. The seaside escape sits just feet from the sandy shoreline, and an ocean-view room is easy to come by, so swing open the doors to your private balcony and let in the sounds of the crashing waves. The hotel is also home to Valle, a Mexican restaurant helmed by chef Roberto Alcocer, which earned its very own Michelin star in 2023 (and remains the only Michelin-starred restaurant in all of Oceanside). And while its best bites may be downstairs in the restaurant, its best views are up on The Rooftop Bar, which offers small bites, craft cocktails, and undeniably the best sunset watching in town. Hang on, because there's more. Despite being some 80 miles south of Hollywood, Mission Pacific still has major movie cred, as it's also home to the famed “Top Gun” house, the 19th-century Victorian cottage that acted as Charlie Blackwood’s home for the original film. The cottage has been restored to its 1980s glory and guests can visit to snap as many Instagram pics as they'd like (yes, there really is a Yamaha Kawasaki Ninja ZX900 Motorcycle out front).

The Full List

1. Mission Pacific Beach Resort: Oceanside, California

Reader Score: 99.17

2. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa: San Diego, California

Reader Score: 96.44

3. The Seabird Ocean Resort & Spa: Oceanside, California

Reader Score: 96.15

4. Montage Healdsburg: Healdsburg, California

Reader Score: 95.00

5. Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club: Dana Point, California

Reader Score: 94.95

6. The Inn at Mattei's Tavern, Auberge Resorts Collection: Los Olivos, California

Reader Score: 94.53

7. Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection: Napa Valley, California

Reader Score: 94.21

8. Surf & Sand Resort: Laguna Beach, California

Reader Score: 94.18

9. Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection: Rutherford, California

Reader Score: 94.07

10. Terranea Resort: Rancho Palos Verdes,California

Reader Score: 93.98

11. Calamigos Guest Ranch & Beach Club: Malibu, California

Reader Score: 93.78

12. Bardessono Hotel: Yountville, California

Reader Score: 93.67

13. Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa: Carlsbad, California

Reader Score: 93.60

14. The Ranch at Laguna Beach: Laguna Beach, California

Reader Score: 93.56

15. Harvest Inn: St. Helena, California

Reader Score: 93.50

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