15 Top-Rated Resorts in Northern California

The rugged natural beauty and sheer variety of settings in Northern California make it an ideal vacation destination. Although there are large cities like San Francisco, nature is always close by. The region is filled with destination resorts set in spectacular natural landscapes.

Northern California is home to rustic luxury lodges, like Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, and cliff-top beachfront resorts, like The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. There are secluded properties like Meadowood Napa Valley, which is a wonderful destination resort, and urban retreats, like The Claremont Club and Spa, which overlooks San Francisco from across the bay in the Oakland hills.

Whether you're looking to plan the ultimate romantic getaway or the best family vacation ever, Northern California has a place for you to make it happen.

Choose the best place to stay with our list of the top resorts in Northern California.

1. Meadowood Napa Valley

Photo Source: Meadowood Napa Valley

Accommodation: Meadowood Napa Valley

If you're looking for a romantic getaway, check out the luxe Meadowood Napa Valley, which sits on 250 secluded acres filled with hills and ancient oaks and is a wonderful destination resort.

Choose from rooms, suites, or cottages, which are modern and elegant and feature fireplaces and private porches.

A great escape for nature lovers, the resort features four miles of hiking trails on-site, as well as a 9-hole golf course, croquet, a spa, two swimming pools, and a few dining choices including a restaurant with three Michelin stars.

Address: 900 Meadowood Ln, St. Helena, California

2. Post Ranch Inn

Photo Source: Post Ranch Inn

Accommodation: Post Ranch Inn

The adults-only Post Ranch Inn is perched high on a ridge above the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean in wildly beautiful Big Sur.

This property is known for its fabulous design and modern style, with rooms and suites in small buildings that feature fantastic accents, like tiled baths in some suites that are built for two and come with amazing ocean views from floor-to-ceiling windows, or walls with salvaged redwood paneling and sheet metal art. There are also luxe treehouse accommodations.

Perks here include complimentary use of a Lexus convertible, a complimentary mini-bar in your room, and classes like meditation and star-gazing. There is also a restaurant with ocean views, a spa with an infinity pool, and a gym.

Address: 47900 CA-1, Big Sur, California

3. Auberge du Soleil

Photo Source: Auberge du Soleil

Accommodation: Auberge du Soleil

Set on 33 acres on a hillside in an olive tree grove in Napa Valley, just five miles from downtown St. Helena, Auberge du Soleil is a beautiful adults-only resort. It draws style inspiration from the South of France and has a mix of rooms, suites, and villas in buildings named after French towns.

Provence-chic decor, lots of sunlight, and classic French doors opening onto private terraces come standard in all accommodation classes. Bathrooms feature deep soaking tubs, and luxe amenities like Bose sound systems and Nespresso machines also come with every room. Suites add living rooms and larger furnished terraces.

There is a Michelin-starred restaurant on-site, as well as a more casual bistro. You can also take a dip in the lovely outdoor swimming pool, book a treatment at the spa, or work out in the gym. If yoga is your meditation, there is an Asian-style pavilion for practicing. Also, take a wander around the sculpture garden on-site.

Address: 180 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, California

4. CordeValle

Photo Source: CordeValle

Accommodation: CordeValle

In the scenic Santa Clara Valley, CordeValle is a contemporary golf resort and spa that makes for a lovely weekend retreat.

It offers stylish rooms and suites, which are spacious and comfortable with a luxury country vibe and come with jetted tubs and fireplaces. The best come with private hot tubs and direct golf course views.

Away from the rooms, amenities include an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, an outdoor pool, a day spa, a fitness center, and two restaurants that are open only to guests or members of the golf club. One is a casual grill located by the golf course that serves up modern California fare. The other is Il Vigneto, which is slightly more formal and does Mediterranean-influenced cooking that uses locally sourced, organic ingredients.

This property is also pet-friendly.

Address: 1 Cordevalle Club Drive, San Martin, California

5. The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Photo Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

This luxury 5-star resort hotel rises from a cliff positioned dramatically above the Pacific, about an hour south of San Francisco.

The Ritz-Carlton is a modern building but was designed to look like a grand Victorian seaside hotel. It has an award-winning restaurant, a casual café, 24-hour room service, and even a seaside hot chocolate stand (it can be chilly here even in the summer).

Perhaps the best feature is the grand lawn between the hotel and sea. There are various seating areas; fire pits; and an evening bagpiper, who celebrates the beautiful sunset.

Rooms and suites are luxurious with a Cape Cod style. A local beach sits directly below the hotel, and miles of hiking trails thread along the cliff tops.

For families, the hotel has a Ritz Kids program, with a range of activities that take advantage of the oceanside setting. For everyone there's also horseback riding and surfing, with programs for beginners to experts. There's an indoor pool and an outdoor pool, along with two championship golf courses at the hotel.

Address: 1 Miramontes Point Rd, Half Moon Bay, California

6. The Lodge at Pebble Beach

Photo Source: The Lodge at Pebble Beach

Located along the world-famous 17-Mile Drive, between Carmel and Monterey, Pebble Beach is home to some of the country's best golf. The Lodge at Pebble Beach is the golf resort's main accommodation, a luxurious yet relaxed hotel.

At the resort, guests have five different restaurants to choose from, as well as access to the private beach and tennis club and the Spanish Bay Club (a country club).

This pet-friendly resort offers amenities like doggy daycare and a special canine room service menu. Aside from golf, there are tennis, bike rides, and nature walks. The resort has an award-winning, wellness-focused spa with a large pool. The beach club has another pool, as does the Spanish Bay Club.

Address: 1700 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, California

7. Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Photo Source: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Located about an hour north of San Francisco, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is a large resort in the small town of Sonoma. Go for one of their signature Mission Suites, large open-plan spaces with working fireplaces, balconies or patios, and large freestanding whirlpool tubs.

There's a gourmet restaurant on-site, as well as a small cafe. The Fairmont is also home to the Willow Stream Spa, a large 40,000-square-foot facility offering a luxurious range of treatment options, including four of the state's best geothermal spa pools (heated by naturally hot spring water).

There's also a large fitness center and several swimming pools, including an outdoor saltwater pool. All the hotel's pools and spas are naturally heated by the mineral springs located right on the property. The Sonoma area offers a range of activities, including horseback riding or golf on the championship course a few minutes down the road.

Address: 100 Boyes Blvd, Sonoma, California

8. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

Photo Source: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

Although it is an all-season resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is especially popular with snow riders in winter. Located mid-mountain at Northstar California Resort, it offers ski-in/ski-out access and is just a 10-minute gondola ride from the shops, restaurants and activities at North Star Village.

The five-star property is huge, but still manages to feel like a cozy, but luxe, ski lodge. Public spaces boast flagstone floors, fireplaces, stone and wood accents, leather sofas, and even a curated, rotating art collection.

The rustic mountain chic vibe continues in the spacious rooms and suites, which feature electric fireplaces, wooden furnishings, and balconies. They also come with TVs that can stream your favorite networks and Nespresso machines for caffeine fixes.

There are four onsite restaurants, a pool, fitness center with classes, and a spa with a full range of treatments on the grounds. If winter isn't your season, come explore in summer, when the Lake Club, which is a separate property right on the lake reserved exclusively for guests, opens up.

If you are traveling with children, the brand is known for being very family friendly. The Ritz Kidz program keeps little ones between the ages of 5 and 12 years entertained. There is also a videogame arcade onsite.

9. Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

Photo Source: Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa

In the heart of vibrant Monterey, The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa has views over the bay and is within walking distance from Cannery Row, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Fisherman's Wharf.

A popular choice with families, it has a mix of rooms and suites, which are spacious and comfortable with a contemporary look and modern amenities. If you're on a romantic getaway, upgrade to one of the suites that come with Jacuzzi tubs and a fireplace along with ocean views from a private balcony.

Away from the rooms, you'll find a few restaurant choices, including one that serves fresh seafood and has a breezy patio for dining. There is also beach access, loaner bikes, a fitness room, a spa, and a complimentary local car service.

Address: 400 Cannery Row, Monterey, California

10. Carmel Valley Ranch

Photo Source: Carmel Valley Ranch

Accommodation: Carmel Valley Ranch

A little less than three hours south of San Francisco in Carmel-By-The-Sea (along one of the most beautiful drives in the world), Carmel Valley Ranch brings elements of a working ranch into a luxury resort.

This property is a good place to stay for couples or when traveling as a family, as it offers plenty of experiences and amenities, including destination weddings. They also offer all-suite accommodations, including suites with one, two, and three bedrooms, which are great for families.

There's tennis and a championship golf course, as well as hiking through the property's more than 500 acres of gardens and pastureland. There are three large pools, one for adults (ages 16 and older). Two pools are saltwater, while the other is a kids' Splash Zone. There are also three large saltwater hot tubs.

The spa is a 10,000-square-foot luxurious retreat, with treatment rooms that have their own private outdoor terraces.

Address: 1 Old Ranch Road, Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

11. Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel

Photo Source: Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel

Perched high in the Oakland hills, this resort, originally a Gold Rush millionaire's mansion, is in Berkeley, only 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco.

The Claremont Club and Spa was first opened as a hotel and spa in 1915 but has been totally updated and refreshed by Fairmont. It's on 33 acres, with beautiful views of the city, and the accommodations look as good as the views.

There are three distinctly different restaurants on the property, all using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. The Claremont is also home to a world-class spa with a wide range of treatment rooms, options, and services. There's also a 10,000-square-foot fitness center, tennis courts, and three swimming pools.

San Francisco and its attractions, restaurants, and museums are only a 30-minute car (or train) ride away.

Address: 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, California

12. The Stanford Inn & Resort

Photo Source: The Stanford Inn & Resort

This pet-friendly eco-resort is about three and a half hours north of San Francisco and sits right on the raw, unspoiled Mendocino coast, overlooking Mendocino Bay.

Each wood-paneled room and suite has its own wood-burning fireplace, and the entire resort embraces a healthy, vegan, wellness-focused lifestyle. This hotel even has its own certified-organic gardens.

Northern California's only environmentally sustainable resort is a great place to stay for romantic getaways or family adventures. There's also a spa, which offers the Inn's unique "Massage in the Forest," done (for one or for couples) in a secluded forest clearing.

There are plenty of activities, from sea kayaking to canoeing on a lake, as well as hiking, yoga, and biking.

Address: POB 487, 44850 Comptche Ukiah Road, Mendocino, California

13. The Lodge at Sonoma Resort, Autograph Collection

Photo Source: The Lodge at Sonoma Resort, Autograph Collection

In the beautiful Sonoma Valley, around one hour's drive north of San Francisco, The Lodge at Sonoma Resort, Autograph Collection is a good choice for couples.

The contemporary rooms and suites feature comfy beds and Italian-inspired designs. The grounds are lovely, with manicured lawns and plenty of colorful flowers, and there is a swimming pool lined with sun loungers.

On-site amenities include the award-winning Raindance Spa, which offers a range of treatments, from massages to facials. There is also the Carneros Bistro, which serves Mediterranean-influenced California fare. If you need a latte in the morning or late afternoon there is also a coffee shop on the grounds.

This resort is also pet friendly.

Address: At Leveroni & Napa Roads, 1325 Broadway, Sonoma, California

14. Timber Cove Resort

Photo Source: Timber Cove Resort

Accommodation: Timber Cove Resort

This beautiful resort is on 25 acres along the Sonoma Coast (almost three hours north of San Francisco). The luxury resort has 46 rooms and suites, along with an oceanfront restaurant.

This stylish property is better for romantic getaways, as couples can appreciate the mid-century style and attention to detail found at this newly renovated resort.

Two miles of hiking trails weave around Timber Cove, with designated picnic areas along the way. There's a retro vibe here, and all guest rooms have record players with a large vinyl record collection. There's a communal outdoor living room with billiards, ping pong tables, and fire pits with complimentary marshmallows for roasting.

There's no spa at Timber Cove, but there is a fitness center, yoga and wellness classes, and a focus on healthy living.

Address: 21780 North Coast Highway 1, Jenner, California

15. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Photo Source: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Set within Yosemite National Park, this rustic, yet luxurious lodge resort offers mountain fun 12 months a year.

The rooms, suites, and individual cottages are nicely designed in a mountain chic style without being overly fancy.

Tenaya Lodge has five different dining options, including an outdoor barbecue, a pizzeria, a deli, and a family-friendly fine-dining restaurant. When it's time to work off all that food, there are three outdoor pools and one indoor one, great for winter guests.

During the summer, there's golf and archery. In the winter, you can go sledding and ice skating. Skiing is only 45 minutes away at the Badger Pass Ski Resort.

When you're ready to explore the sights of Yosemite National Park or hit the hiking trails, the lodge also offers private, full-day tours led by the hotel's resident naturalist.

Address: 1122 CA-41, Fish Camp, California

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