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A luxury guide to Southern California: What to eat, see and do

Friday, February 2, 2024 2:00 PM

California dreamin’ that you won’t want to wake up from

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If you’re looking for quiet luxury, look no further than Southern California. From rolling beaches, pampering wellness services, chic nightlife, and some of the best food and wine around, Southern California is the perfect choice. Seriously, whether for a bougie girl’s trip or hen party (or a gorgeously romantic honeymoon), it's the ultimate location.

Given how big and varied the state is - Cali is just under double the size of the entire UK and its landscape ranges from mountains to forest to beach to city - we hit the road to take in as much as we could, visiting West Hollywood, Temecula, and Dana Point.

Where to stay in Southern California

Temecula: Ponte Vineyard Inn

That scene of Lindsay Lohan running through a ripe grapevine in the Parent Trap? That could be you at Ponte Vineyard Inn (trying to get your parents back together is not included as a service). More of a complex than a hotel, rooms at Ponte are spread across the sun-drenched vineyard, which you are free to stroll around at your leisure. At the centre is a terraced garden backing on to a beautiful pond, where you can take your breakfast in the morning or a cocktail in the evening.

The heated outdoor pool and hot tub are open until 10pm, if you fancy taking a dip after dinner to soak in the sunsets over the vines.

Where to eat in Southern California

Temecula: Small Barn

There’s a strong possibility Heaven is catered by Small Barn in old town Temecula. Among the rolling hills of the vineyards, Small Barn is tucked away on the end of the Old Street High Street (if you’ve ever been to an ‘Old Street’ in an English seaside town, you’re already picturing it). Small Barn serves contemporary bistro food, and the menu is designed around pairing with local wines from the valley. If you have a sweet tooth, the Ube Panna cotta is a standout for sure.

What to do in Southern California

Temecula: Take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards

If you wake up early on a clear day in Temecula, you’ll see dozens of colourful hot air balloons drifting through the bright blue skies. Being geologically flat and protected by mountains doesn’t just make Temecula a prime location to grow grapes, it also makes for some incredible panoramic views. Even though you’ll need to get up early (most tours depart at around 5.30/6am) we promise the sunrise is worth it, and you can option for a champagne breakfast when you touch down.

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