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The 101 Springs Back to Life
The North County coastline is our backyard destination, cherished for its relaxed vibe, wellness pursuits and newfound exploration. The 101—aka Pacific Coast Highway—is the route to eat, engage and chill like a local. Here’s where to make waves...
Home to the historic horse racetrack co-founded by Bing Crosby, Del Mar is a storybook seaside village resplendent in English Tudor design. Do like the “Del Martians”—shop at Rusty’s surf shop; order sammies from Board & Brew or stylishly kick back at Sbicca or Zel’s.
Tiny Solana Beach is big on character with its walkable and dog-friendly Cedros Design District. Featuring Quonset architecture and 85 independent shops and galleries, the treasure hunt is teed up. Don’t shop? Sample the goods at Culture Brewery or Carruth’s open-air winery.
The gilded turrets of the Self Realization Fellowship are a fitting symbol to mark the entrance of Encinitas, the North American birthplace of yoga. A destination for its down tempo vacay vibes and sea of outdoor cafes, people-watching here is a spectator sport. The hot seats: Lofty Coffee, Modern Times, and we all scream for Cali Creamer’s ice cream.
Next stop, Leucadia. “Keep it Funky” is the motto and the philosophy of this beach burg. Watch the world go by from Pannikin, a coffee house and gift shop in the old train station; book your healing ritual at Four Moons Spa; and nab your funky souvenir from Surfy Surfy.
When Getting There is Part of the Charm
If slow is your travel setting, Del Dios Highway is one of the lesser known roads leading to Pacific Coast Highway from our property. It’s also the most scenic. The 16-mile drive zips through steep canyons, twisty ridges and straightaways. The scenery is enthralling and picturesque.
Further in, it hugs Lake Hodges where—margarita fans consider yourselves warned—Hernandez' Hideaway is a requisite pit stop. Scented with citrus trees and margarita salt, this historic eatery oozes ambiance.
The final section of the drive cuts through the bucolic town center of Rancho Santa Fe, where every Saturday morning you can idle into Coffee & Cars, a casual gathering of rare and exotic cars. For foodies, don’t miss exotics of another variety: Chino Farms stand is beloved by top chefs for its bounty.
walk THIS WAY
Freedom to Roam....If You Want To
It’s a golden time to rediscover San Diego’s boundless hiking trails with their rewarding mountain-to-sea vistas. Oh, the places we can roam so close to Rancho Bernardo Inn. Fragrant with sage and lyrical with song birds, the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve on Lake Poway features 700 acres lined with oaks, chaparral and technicolor wildflowers depending on the season. It’s approachably rugged: Trails are pet friendly and feature portable bathrooms, benches and tables.
For bragging rights and the selfie to prove it, there’s Potato Chip Rock, the iconic perch atop Mt. Woodson. The 3.75-mile hike is mostly uphill, but otherwise well-marked and easy for trailblazers to pose victoriously on the summit’s granite sliver. The park has bathrooms, picnic tables and ample parking.
For panoramic views, set sights on Iron Mountain, the second highest peak in Poway with some challenging switchbacks along its 5.2-mile route. On a clear day, hikers can spy the Catalina Islands. A summit viewfinder provides a magnified lens of urban landmarks like Mission Bay, Downtown, Coronado and Point Loma. Undeniably romantic? A sunset hike.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego Zoo is hailed globally for its habitats, mission and botanical splendor. It’s sister property? It’s astoundingly intimate, personalized and only a few minutes from Rancho Bernardo Inn. Spread over 1,800 acres, The Safari Park is home to more than 3,500 animals and 260 different species as well as a huge botanical garden. Massive, open-range enclosures re-create various habitats from around the world. African Plains, for example, is larger than the entire San Diego Zoo itself!
What began as the zoo’s breeding program has evolved into a major conservatory undertaking. Its condor-breeding efforts have successfully reintroduced the near-extinct bird into the wild. The Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, meanwhile, is a state-of-the-art sanctuary and global centerpiece to bring white rhinos back from extinction. Book your private behind-the-scenes caravan tours for a ride that’s equally thrilling and educational. (A little lorikeet told us early mornings are best to catch animal activity.)
toasts OF THE TOWN
Book Your Private Swirlwind Tour
San Diego is known as craft beer territory. Yet, our Mediterranean climate and rich soil yield a thriving vintner scene with a sense of discovery akin to early Santa Barbara. Here, we uncover gems in both categories—plus our can’t miss Kombucha nearby.
Founded in 1889, Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo has evolved from local winery to wine village, featuring dozens of shops, live music and a robust tasting room with 30+ local wines by the glass.
A decidedly more intimate venture is found at La Finquita (the little farm) where a late-harvest viognier or the Passionate Kiss—the house red blend—can be enjoyed from the patio, affording stunning mountain vistas.
Under the influence of Baja’s esteemed winemaker Hugo d'Acosta, this boutique winery produces estate-grown blends including the uncommon Aleatico. Hike the vineyards, play Bocce, or simply sit back and savor the scenery.
Just 10 miles from Rancho Bernardo Inn, JuneShine has the “farm-to-booch” scene covered with flavors like Honey Ginger, Blood Orange Mint and Acai Berry. Pair with a mindful menu of poke bowls and superfood salads—and don’t forget the mod boho merch.
Heralded for its Belgian-inspired beers and sours, Lost Abbey features a dizzying 24 beers on tap in San Marcos. Worship at the tasting room, also home to Port Brewery.
The grand poohbah, Stone Brewery, is taking reservations for its one-acre beer garden in nearby Escondido. With 36 beers on tap, locally sourced grub and a gift shop that doubles as a museum, this brew campus is a major draught pick.
paint THE TOWN
Riding the Wave of New and Nostalgic in La Jolla
For art lovers, things are always looking up in the village of La Jolla. That’s because the real jewels of this seaside town are the Murals of La Jolla, commissioning art-world heavyweights to splash across 15 walls. Download the map for a totally walkable experience, hitting favorite local haunts between selfies. The must-see list:Perched above La Jolla Cove is John Baldessari’s Brain/Cloud by the late S.D. titan; Sandra Cinto’s black-and-white wave is a wonder wall; and the latest mural by Alex Katz pays tribute to the late choreographer Bill T. Jones.
Refuel like a local: Verdes El Ranchero is an old-school Mexican tavern known for its scratch margaritas and house carnitas made with Modelo Negro, Coca-Cola and yes, love. At El Pescador, fishmongers haul in local lobster, halibut and sea urchin doled out by the cute surfer staff. Find your sweet spot at Sugar and Scribe, the ambitious bakery of a Food Network champ who elevates everything from pies to the sugar cookie.