Along California's rolling Peninsular Range between Los Angeles and San Diego, an opulent retreat awaits. While navigating a coastal tour, leave time for stops between the Golden State's two most popular cities to enjoy a little luxury further inland. The reward: a blissful stay in a Spanish revival mission, rejuvenation at geothermal hot springs, and sunset cocktails from hot air balloons.
Swing by the Springs
At Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona, take a soothing dip or a refreshing cold plunge into one of seventeen pools, baths, or spas. Begin with a soak in naturally occurring geothermal mineral baths, which maintain a therapeutic temperature of 104 degrees. Then, the more adventurous can sink into a red clay mud bath (Club Mud), a full-body therapy that absorbs impurities and softens skin. For VIP treatment, book a Cabana—a semi-private lounge on the rooftop that includes personalized concierge and waiter service.
Savor the Taste of Temecula
While in Temecula Valley, get whisked away via hot air balloon over hills of new-age wineries. Now boasting a modern viniculture, Temecula Valley sits just 40 miles from the origin of wine cultivation in California: San Juan Capistrano. In 1779, Father Junipero Serra (nicknamed the father of California wine) cultivated the first sustainable vineyard in the state near the southern coast at San Juan Capistrano Mission. In later years, after the end of Prohibition, Napa and Sonoma Valleys became known as the epicenter for Californian wine culture after commercial production in those areas took off. Returning to its legacy, Temecula Valley Wine Country offers connoisseurs an enriching wine tasting experience that shouldn't be overlooked.
For sunset and sunrise air balloon rides, contact California Dreamin' or Sunrise Balloon Tours. To tour Rancho Valley Road wineries in a limousine, make reservations with Sunset Limousine, which includes a bottle of champagne.
Luxuriate at a Mission
After dark, the Mission Inn's walls echo flirtatious chords of a Spanish guitar as couples kiss over moonlit cocktails. At this historic Mission Revival-Style hotel, originally constructed in 1876, expect grandiose meals and divinely decorated suites. On the weekends, wake up to champagne brunch (complete with a chocolate fountain) before heading to Kelly's Spa, which hosts specially designed treatments for couples. Around holiday time, take a tour of downtown Riverside in horse-drawn carriages.
Bargain for Brand Names
Cruise out to the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon for an afternoon of shopping luxury brand name at stores like Gucci, Armani Exchange, and Versace. The location has over 130 high-end shops and you can even reserve a group tour that includes a VIP discount book. Miramonte Resort & Spa in nearby Palm Desert offers a Glamour Girls escape package.
Man the Outdoors
Venture further inland and follow the winding roads of the San Bernardino Mountains to Lake Arrowhead. While there, take a cruise along the pristine waters aboard the Lake Arrowhead Queen paddlewheel boat. Tickets are sold at Leroy's Board Shop for $16; private charter rates are also available. Then, stay overnight at a lakeside chalet or opt for a cozy woodland cabin, both available through Arrowhead Property Rental or High Country Property Management. The more adventurous and creative can also attempt DIY glamping (glamorous camping, of course) at either Dogwood or North Shore Campgrounds.
To connect with Megan, visit her website or follow her on twitter @megansnedden
Photo credits: Inland empire desert via Shutterstock; Temecula wine tasting courtesy of VisitCalifornia; Mission Inn courtesy of VisitCalifornia; Desert Hills Premium Outlets courtesy of Flickr/prayitno; Lake Arrowhead via Shutterstock