Southern California

7 Beachfront Hotels in SoCal for a Weekend Getaway

See the Pacific Ocean from your window and step right onto the sparkling beaches at these hotels that offer direct access to Southern California's surf and sand.

When I think about staying in Southern California, I don’t picture the Hollywood Hills or downtown Los Angeles, despite being favorite cultural destinations. And even though I love the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park isn’t my first stop. No, it’s the ocean that calls me to SoCal. Waves pounding, sun shining, sand glistening, nothing says California like the beach breezes and the golden light of the West Coast.

And to be able to soak up as much Cali surf and shore as possible, my goal is to walk out the door of my hotel and immediately sink my toes into golden sand. Luckily, I’ve been able to do just that at beachside getaways that hug the coast stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. With these beachfront hotels in Southern California, you can see the Pacific Ocean from your window and step right onto the shore from the door of your accommodation!

1. Mediterranean Glamour in Santa Barbara

Set against a backdrop of golden beaches and the lush Santa Ynez Mountains, the elegant Ritz-Carlton Bacara Santa Barbara feels like you’ve stepped into a Mediterranean seaside village with white stucco buildings with red tile roofs spread throughout 78 acres of lush gardens that roll down to the sea. This is an outdoor lover’s paradise with two natural beaches and three salt-water infinity pools, not to mention access to Santa Barbara’s three championship golf courses, and horseback riding, biking, and hiking all arranged on property.

Since the property is spread across multiple buildings, you can stay in everything from a private villa with an outdoor fireplace to a deluxe room with a fire pit, all with outdoor patios or terraces, marble bathrooms, and plush furnishings. The free-standing destination spa and wellness center is worth making time for as is the resort’s signature steakhouse, Angel Oak. The latter offers outdoor seating facing the ocean and a 12,000-bottle wine collection that brings California’s wine country right to your table.

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara

Top rated
Santa Barbara
8.5 Excellent (1782 reviews)

2. Cutting Edge Beach Vibes in San Diego

Sleek, fresh, modern, and fun, Tower 23 Hotel sits right on the sand and along the lively three-mile-long Pacific Beach Boardwalk, making it the perfect perch to explore San Diego beach nightlife. Start the evening on the second-floor Tower Deck, the ideal spot to sip sunset cocktails, or head down to the JRDN Restaurant for fresh from the ocean seafood. The ocean-facing deck is also where to catch some rays during the day. When you’re ready to cool off, hit the waves, which are just a few feet away. The hotel provides chairs, towels, and even bike rentals to make the most of your shore time.

Rooms have minimalist decor and high-end amenities, including chromatherapy jacuzzi tubs in suites; private spa services are available for an in-room treat. All rooms have balconies, but book an ocean facing option to be able to hear the waves as you drift off to sleep.

Tower23 Hotel

Top rated
San Diego
9.2 Excellent (1621 reviews)

3. A Cape Cod Beach House in Santa Monica

With a stellar beachfront location in swanky Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach is the quintessential Los Angeles beach retreat. You’ll usually see a mix of well-dressed business people, chic travelers, and the occasional celebrity when you’re tipping a glass of bubbly at the breezy Living Room Bar or nibbling oysters while watching the sunset at 1 Pico.

Even though it attracts a trend-setting crowd, there’s still a relaxed beach vibe here. The white and gray clapboard exterior and white shuttered hotel rooms make it feel like you’re in Cape Cod beach house. In fact, when you’re relaxing in the oversized easy chair in your room watching the sunset and enjoying the cool ocean breezes, you might forget you’re not in a remote seaside cottage. In the evening, wind-down with a signature Biologique Recherche treatment at the hotel’s intimate ONE Spa or stroll the ever-popular Santa Monica pier for some old-fashioned boardwalk fun.

Shutters On the Beach

Top rated
Santa Monica
8.6 Excellent (754 reviews)

4. A Coastal Retreat for Families in Laguna Beach

Spanning 30 acres of prime Pacific seaside coastline, it’s hard to beat the Montage Laguna Beach features a hard-to-beat location, especially for family vacations. Children from toddlers through age 12 can check into Paintbox, an activities program with special events throughout the day including arts and crafts, science projects, sandcastle building, and tide pool tours. Families can also play together in the Mosaic pool overlooking the beach, or hit the sand and the waves for stand up paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, surf lessons, and swimming.

Spacious standard rooms are a minimum of 500 square feet, so there’s plenty of room to stretch out, and suites and villas are even grander. Family-friendly dining is on offer at the poolside grill or Loft restaurant; for a special night out, the glass-walled Studio offers changing menus of California coastal cuisine paired with wines from the restaurant’s Wine Spectator’s Grand Award-winning cellar.

Montage Laguna Beach

Top rated
Laguna Beach
9.2 Excellent (819 reviews)

5. Beach Volleyball Views at Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach may not be as well-known as ritzy Manhattan Beach to its north or funky Redondo Beach just to the south, but it’s a perfect beach paradise for those in the know. It’s friendly and welcoming while providing pristine beach access as well as a spirited strip of restaurants and bars ideal for people watching after you’ve strolled the Hermosa Pier. What’s been missing from all three LA-area beach towns was a surf-side hotel to enjoy the scenery: The Beach House is the perfect fix. Every room is a spacious studio suite with luxe amenities like gas fireplaces, kitchenettes, and deep soaking tubs.

Guest rooms also have a patio or balcony, perfect for keeping an eye on Hermosa Beach’s lively volleyball scene, the home of the AVP annual beach volleyball tournament. With so many dining spots nearby, you won’t miss having an on-premises restaurant, especially since a complimentary breakfast is served every morning to hotel guests.

Hotel Beach House at Hermosa Beach

Top rated
Hermosa Beach
9.1 Excellent (1733 reviews)

6. Private Beach Club Access in Dana Point

Head south from Los Angeles about 60 miles until the coast is perfectly serene and you’ll arrive this stunning seaside Hotel Monarch Beach Resort in Orange County. Once you check in, you may never want to leave, and you don’t have to since everything you need for a luxurious vacation is at your fingertips. Think stellar rooms and suites; an award-winning 18-hole golf course; three pools; a Miraval Life in the Balance Spa; and four restaurants, including Bourbon Steak, voted the number one restaurant in Orange County and helmed by celebrity chef Michael Mina.

Perhaps best of all is the Monarch Bay Beach Club, a private retreat just for hotel guests. Its Ocean Adventures program offers guest chairs and towels, beach equipment, a sand-in-your-toes restaurant, beachside s’mores, “No Fail Surf Lessons” that guarantees all students will stand up on a board, and even cool window-bottom stand up paddle boards that allows riders to view the sea life below them – it`s pretty hard to top that.

Hotel Monarch Beach Resort

Top rated
Dana Point
9.4 Excellent (4262 reviews)

7. Foodie Adventures in Rancho Palos Verdes

The luxury Hotel Terranea Resort is perched high on the cliffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with unmatched views out over the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island, and Channel Islands. If you’ve been dreaming of the ultimate SoCal resort, this might fit the bill, with four sparkling saltwater swimming pools, The Links at Terranea golf course, an award-winning oceanfront spa, and even children’s adventure camps – all on 102 acres of unparalleled coastline.

Accommodations range from hotel suites to bungalows, oceanfront casitas to luxurious villas. And the dining here is some of the best in SoCal, with nine dining venues that feature “Fork to Terranea” cuisine utilizing the resort’s own vegetable gardens, eggs, sea salt, olive oil, and wildflower honey. Highlights include including signature restaurant Mar’sel; Asian-inspired Bashi; and Nelson’s, a cliffside spot ideal for both watching hawks sailing overhead and blue whales migrating below.

Hotel Terranea Resort

Top rated
Rancho Palos Verdes
9.0 Excellent (1074 reviews)