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  • Writer's picturePrinceton North

Travel + Leisure's Top Resorts in CA, 2 are in Santa Barbara!

Travelers have been eager to spend time outdoors, and the Golden State delivers mightily on this front. The best resorts in California, according to Travel + Leisure readers, are the ones that put nature center stage.

Every year for our World's Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels (including safari lodges) were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

While seaside hideaways might be the first places that come to mind, the state has plenty of gems tucked into valleys or the agricultural inland. Take, for instance, Ojai Valley Inn (No. 11), which is ringed by the Topatopa Mountains. "The location is magical," said one reader, who went on to rave about the "incredible" staff and about the hotel's signature restaurant, Olivella, declaring it "one of the best Italian restaurants in the United States."

Still, the pull of the Pacific remains strong, and perennial favorites on the list appear once again, including two properties in Big Sur: Alila Ventana Big Sur (No. 15) and Post Ranch Inn (No. 14). Both properties are perched above a dramatic stretch of this famous coastline south of Carmel. One reader claimed the latter was "the best luxury getaway in the U.S.," thanks to the "extraordinary location and rooms, fabulous food, and incredible spa." Another appreciated the "beautiful views" and "top-notch service."

But it was San Ysidro Ranch, in Santa Barbara, that won the top spot. Read on for more about what made it the favorite and the full list of the best resort hotels in California.

1. San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara

"Truly one of the most spectacular hotels in the world" is how one reader described this year's winner, which has hosted such famous guests as Jackie and John F. Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and Lucille Ball. Once a citrus farm, San Ysidro Ranch sits on 550 acres, full of lavender, olive and oak trees, and gardens — all framed by the Santa Ynez Mountains. The resort's 38 bungalows were thoughtfully designed with cozy touches: each comes with a stone fireplace, a private outdoor patio (with a hot tub and a rain shower), king-size four-poster beds, and eclectic décor (think Persian rugs, antique furnishings).

Score: 96.57

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2. Rosewood Miramar Beach, Montecito

Score: 96.14

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3. Sparrows Lodge, Palm Springs

Score: 95.58

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4. MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa, Sonoma

Score: 95.45

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5. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa, Rancho Santa Fe

Score: 94.80

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6. L'Auberge Del Mar

Score: 94.74

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7. Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino

Score: 94.38

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8. Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club, Dana Point

Score: 94.21

9. Auberge du Soleil, Auberge Resorts Collection, Napa

Score: 94.14

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10. The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Score: 93.88

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11. Ojai Valley Inn

Score: 93.40

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12. Rosewood Sand Hill, Menlo Park

Score: 93.39

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13. Holiday House, Palm Springs

Score: 93.33

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14. Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Score: 93.26

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15. Alila Ventana Big Sur

Score: 93.17

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