No visit to California is complete without walking on the beach. While it can be fun to drive down to the ocean, it can also be confusing and frustrating dealing with traffic and parking. To avoid the hassle, book one of the best resorts in California on the beach and spend your time pleasurably and stress-free.
It comes as little surprise that the best resorts in California on the beach are some of the most sought accommodations in the country. Generally, the beaches in California are brimming with soft white sand, beautiful people, fantastic restaurants, and some of the most lovely sunsets in the world.
When it comes to beaches, southern California is the epicenter. However, coastlines along Big Sur and Lake Tahoe are equally spectacular, perhaps unexpectedly. Therefore, if you’re looking for a happening beach in SoCal, a deserted dramatic beach in central California, or a high-altitude crystal clear turquoise lagoon surrounded by pine trees, there’s something for everyone.
How to Save Money on Reservations
The resorts below have been sorted by price, making it easy to select the one that fits your budget. Simply select accommodation and you’re pretty much guaranteed a fantastic trip. For the best prices, we recommend booking through Priceline.
By the way, purchasing the resort and the flight together is a great way to save money over booking them separately. When it comes to making reservations, we always go with Priceline because for whatever reason it’s always the cheapest. Make sure you select “Bundle + Save” to book flights, hotels, and car rentals all at once.
Priceline Booking Tip: From our experience, Priceline always emails a coupon offering a discount from 5 to 15% off our next stay after completing a reservation. If you’re planning on booking a trip to one of the best resorts in California, then it may be worthwhile to make a cheap hotel reservation (for like a weekend getaway) ahead of time, and then use the coupon when making the reservation for your trip to California.
Also, make sure you sign up on Priceline’s home page for special deals and promotions via text message. Sometimes Priceline will send you a coupon right away that you can use for your trip—that way you don’t have to wait.
10 Best Resorts in California on the Beach
Feel good knowing that booking any one of the 10 resorts below will basically guarantee a great vacation—these are the best of the best. Below are the 10 best resorts in California sorted by nightly rate from cheapest to most expensive for one room with two people.
1. El Cordova – San Diego
Okay, technically the historic hotel El Cordova is not on the beach. However, being only a short hop, skip, and jump away (about a four-minute walk) makes it one of the best resorts in San Diego at an outlandishly affordable price.
With Mediterranean vibes, this boutique resort transports guests to a hacienda in Spain. Moreover, it’s within walking distance of the area’s best restaurants, shopping, and multiple beaches. Guests are treated to two on-site restaurants, a bar/lounge, a pool, and spacious suites. When you’re ready to explore San Diego, jump right onto the Old Town Town Trolley to cruise around stress-free—one of their stops is a two-minute walk from El Cordova.
Book Now: El Cordova (from $156)
2. Cavalier Oceanfront Resort – San Simeon
Located on Highway 1, along a stunning stretch of beach, the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort is one of the best resort deals in California. Sure, it’s a bit dated but the views and location are priceless. If you’re willing to sacrifice a smidgen of modernity then this may be the ideal location to explore the Central Coast which of course includes Hearst Castle, Cambria, the Elephant Seal rookery, and the Paso Robles wine country.
Book Now: Cavalier Oceanfront Resort (from $169)
3. Hyatt Regency Resort, Spa & Casino – Lake Tahoe
While technically located in Nevada, the Hyatt Regency Resort, Spa & Casino sits on the California-Nevada border and is one of the best resorts in California on the beach. Most people don’t consider California’s “east coast” for a beach vacation but with one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, there’s no reason not to. In fact, Lake Tahoe is one of the deepest and cleanest freshwater lakes in the world—making it the perfect location for a beach vacation.
Expect to be wowed by the alpine atmosphere, scenery, and surplus of dining options. Finally, the best time to enjoy swimming at Lake Tahoe is during the summer, while Fall, with fall foliage, is the perfect time to hike.
Book Now: Hyatt Regency Resort, Spa & Casino (from $179)
4. The Seabird Resort – part of Destination by Hyatt – Oceanside
Overlooking Oceanside Beach and Pier, The Seabird Resort is the epitome of the best resorts in California on the beach. Adding a modern twist to the SoCal resort experience, Seabird’s grand coastal architecture sets the tone for a wonderful family or couple’s vacation. Guests are treated to ocean views from their rooms and balconies, as well as from the expansive pool deck. Finally, enjoy local farm-to-table California fare at Piper, one of two onsite restaurants.
Book Now: The Seabird Resort (from $305)
5. The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel – Huntington Beach
Looking out over Huntington Beach’s oceanfront and white soft sand, The Waterfront Beach Resort, a Hilton Hotel is a great choice for beach-loving travelers looking to blend luxury with beach life. Also, it’s ideally located within walking distance of the iconic Huntington Beach Pier and dining and shopping at Pacific City.
As one of the best resorts in California on the beach, the Waterfront is especially popular with families. It’s easy to see why, the resort features two pools, one with two waterslides, four dining options, a rooftop lounge, and a kids club, and it’s just 30 minutes to Disneyland.
Book Now: The Waterfront Beach Resort (from $319)
6. Loews Beach Hotel – Santa Monica
Only steps away from Santa Monica Pier, families looking for a posh resort in the center of Santa Monica’s action will find the Loews Beach Hotel as the quintessential option. Because Loews loves family, the resort caters to all ages, and every member of the family is destined to have a fabulous vacation.
Featuring modern California design, the guest experience at Loews includes a 4th-floor elevated pool, 13 cozy fire pits, Blue Streak Restaurant, For Five Coffee Roasters, all-day room service, and comfortable yet luxurious guest rooms and suites with the most stunning views of Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean.
Book Now: Loews Beach Hotel (from $390)
7. Hotel Casa Del Mar – Santa Monica
Built in 1926 to be the most opulent and grandest resort on the beach, Hotel Casa Del Mar continues its mission to this day. The resort features luxurious decor, meticulously blending SoCal and Mediterranean architecture, cheerful public areas, and somehow still radiates relaxed beachy vibes.
Being a short walk to Santa Monica and providing views from Malibu to Palos Verdes, guests will find the location ideal. But let’s be honest, most people won’t want to leave the resort. However, those that do decide to explore the area will find Venice Beach, the Third Street Promenade, tons of shopping and dining options, and Palisades ‘cliff-top’ Park all within a short walking distance.
Book Now: Hotel Casa Del Mar (from $555)
8. Hotel Californian – Santa Barbara
Referred to as the “American Riviera” by locals, Santa Barbara is blessed with wonderful wine, cinematic festivals, oceanfront views, and the Hotel Californian. With the Pacific Ocean in the foreground and the Santa Ynez mountains in the background, this Moroccan-inspired luxury resort sits a stone’s throw away from the beach. Travelers seeking out an adventure may opt to arrive in Santa Barbara by train—Hotel Californian is just one block from the Santa Barbara Amtrak station.
Book Now: Hotel Californian (from $650)
9. Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts – Santa Monica
Located in one of Santa Monica’s most prestigious neighborhoods, Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts offers unparalleled service, providing guests with a personalized stay that focuses on rejuvenation and relaxation. Moreover, its cozy courtyard and luxury suites emanate romance and intimacy—this resort is for couples, probably a good idea to leave the kids at home.
Book Now: Oceana Santa Monica (from $935)
10. Montage – Laguna Beach
Perched on top of a coastal cliff on the Pacific Ocean, Montage Laguna Beach offers pure California seaside luxury. Guests describe their stay as a combination of both comfort and elegance.
Although a popular venue for glam weddings, the property ensures privacy and serenity for every guest with each room offering an ocean view and events being held away from rooms and suites. Ready for pampering, each room allows for a mini-spa getaway—equipped with an in-room marble soaking tub, spa amenities, and posh bathrobes.
Reviews here are consistently and overwhelmingly stellar, with three on-site 5-star restaurants, outside dining patios, poolside cabanas, and evening cocktails with live entertainment. The Montage Laguna Beach is truly one of California’s premier resort experiences.
Book Now: Montage Laguna Beach (from $950)