California was made for road trips and we have created the ultimate coastal guide from La Jolla to Huntington Beach, then on to the sweeping Napa vineyards. We’ve included everything you’ll need to plan your trip including the best foodie stops, most instagrammable spots and even a custom playlist. Take it from us and our local team members at our Meritage Collection hotels and resorts – this is the road trip for the road less traveled to inspire you and help you make 2020 a summer to remember.
And as a special bonus, now you can enter to win your own road trip include three 2 nights stays at our resorts on the California Coast.
Before you even start your engine, you’ll first need to download the ultimate playlist and we’ve got the perfect one for you right here.
Now it’s time to make your way to the first stop: the gardens of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, just minutes from the La Jolla Shores. Estancia in itself is a destination with its majestic gardens and hacienda-style architecture, a stunning pool and beautiful rooms.
We asked the experts for advice on how best to experience our resorts. Estancia’s General Manager Paul Maddison’s favorite spot on property? “Drinking a Café Americano looking over the garden courtyard or sitting on Mustang’s patio after work and enjoying a chilled martini with a twist.”
We recommend you take Paul’s advice on that.
Visitors of Estancia always make it a point to take in some nature during their stay. So, when not at Estancia’s own Secret Garden enjoying Mustang’s famous tacos, we suggest you make a stop at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and Scripps Pier at La Jolla Beach.Or, for an artsy pop and a photo op to make your friends swoon – a stop at Artelexia in San Diego is a fun spot to grab some pics and get some Mexican-inspired gifts.
Everyone knows a road trip is not complete without some local eats. En route to Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach, there are many local eateries you can enjoy all while taking in the refreshing ocean breeze.Some of our favorites are Chino Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, Hide Away Cade in Solana Beach and Birdseye Kitchen in Encinitas. While in Encinitas – Better Buzz Coffee will give you the caffeine you need for a quick drive to Orange County’s most coveted beach.
Now, that you arrived at Paséa Hotel & Spa, you’ll be sure to immediately hear the beach calling your name. Luckily, Paséa’s own Tanner’s restaurant and Treehouse rooftop lounge gives you the perfect view of Surf City’s famed waves. Joe Leinacker, General Manager at Paséa Hotel & Spa, recommends starting your night with a Tanner’s Old Fashioned during sunset. We promise you, nothing beats that view.
The next day, you’ll want to spend a little time soaking in the sun and sipping a cocktail or two at our beachfront pool before making your way down to the sand to splash in the summer waves. Didn’t have enough room in your car for all the beach gear? We got you! Simply call upon our Beach Butler Service and we’ll get you all hooked up with towels, chairs, umbrellas and even a pedicab to and from.
If you do decide to venture off property, some must-visit stops include The Water Brewery where you can stock up on great water for the road, then a visit to the Van’s Off The Wall Skate Park to soak in Surf City’s skate culture.
Now, for the long haul to Napa – where you can swap your surfboard for a wine glass. This is the part of the trip where things can get interesting. En route, a stop in Malibu is a must –you might even spot a celebrity driving on the Pacific Coast Highway with their top down or maybe hiking up many of the famous trails. Of course, you’ll need your caffeine fix and Café Luxe’s latte art is on point and their love of coffee shows through in every cup. For lunch, grab some fish and chips or ceviche at Malibu Seafood then, for the perfect insta stop, take a little break at Corral Canyon Overlook where a hike ends in sweeping ocean views.
Depending on your route – there is a lot to do on your way to the famous Napa Valley. We recommend checking out Santa Barbara’s State Street where you can get HandleBar Coffee then visit the Santa Barbara Public Market for famous ice cream, sushi or pizza. We expect you’ll chart your course through San Luis Obispo, Monterrey and, of course, make your way over the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. By now the road to Napa is within reach and Vista Collina Resort and The Meritage Resort and Spa are calling your name.
With two sprawling resorts just across the street from each other, there is no reason to look any further for the full Napa experience. Vista Collina boasts 9 on-site tasting rooms, a specialty grocery store and large lawn space where socially distanced concerts start July 3 and continue throughout the summer. Just across the way is The Meritage Resort where the new Olive and Hay restaurant is serving farm-to-table fare paired with delectable wines, and the adjoining vineyard makes for the perfect after dinner stroll. If you must leave the resort, our favorite spots are The Farm House for the perfect date night and Oxbow Public Market for Ritual Coffee and C Casa Tacos.
David Ryan, Managing Director at The Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort begs you not to end your trip without taking your breakfast to the Vineyard Deck overlooking the grounds and vineyards, or enjoying a specially picked bottle of wine at sunset on the Lawn. The perfect places to reflect on your adventure and start planning your next trip.