A beloved San Diego-area getaway for more than 60 years, Rancho Bernardo Inn has mastered the art of keeping guests entertained. Toward the tail-end of summer, the 265-acre property roughly 35 minutes north of San Diego International Airport packs its itinerary with yoga classes, sailing excursions, live music sessions, horseback rides with picnics and happy hours.
Over the next few weeks, the activity schedule will be particularly busy with garden parties (Aug. 11 and 25, and Sept. 1), pool-front movie screenings (Fridays and Saturdays through Labor Day) and other noteworthy events (the Sept. 29 Woodford Reserve release). It all may pose a challenge for the concierge to stay on top of things, but it’s a delight for guests. If you’re visiting before autumn, prepare to be inundated with offerings at the impressive inn.
The 287-room resort has been a discerning traveler’s favorite for decades with its Old California, Spanish Revival charm. A full renovation completed in February 2023 retained that classic look, albeit with light-painted woods and dark bronze accents heightening the overnight stay.
The garden view room’s new furnishings and fabulous vistas make it an ideal choice for couples looking for a few nights of seclusion. Families will appreciate the spacious studio suites, where they’ll find coziness in new sleeper sofas and warmth at inviting fire pits in some of the back patios. Experience these units and others with Celebrate Summer, a package that grants you a complimentary fourth night and a $60 daily credit after three paid consecutive nights (available until Aug. 31, the offer is valid for stays through Jan. 3, 2024).
If you think the concierge is busy here, just wait until you see the Rancho Bernardo wedding coordinator’s calendar. During a typical summer, nuptials occur about every weekend in the meticulous gardens and majestic ballrooms around the property. In fact, rumors of an NFL player saying his vows during our most recent stay were backed by more than a few sightings of broad-shouldered gentlemen in tuxedos.
But one of the joys of this resort is that you don’t have to say “I do” to soak up the romantic atmosphere. With 19 hand-made fountains scattered about the grounds, picture-perfect moments can happen anywhere. Additionally, the stunning spa provides couples massages and offers the county’s only outdoor treatment facilities. AVANT, the resort’s signature restaurant, cooks up couple-centric dining events every week (Sunday champagne brunch) and on special occasions (a five-course Vine-to-Table meal on Sept. 7).
One-off happenings aren’t the only thing special about AVANT. Chef de cuisine Sergio Jimenez’s knack for turning French-American cuisine into art has made the restaurant North County’s premier dining destination. However, the establishment’s unsung hero sits a short walk away in the form of a verdant garden full of fruits and herbs. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Jimenez or another person from the team plucking that night’s ingredients. Should you follow the staffer back to AVANT for a meal, you’ll find a whole branzino topped with leafy greens, a bordelaise-drizzled beef Wellington and other gorgeous plates.
At Veranda, the resort’s less-formal, all-day dining hub, the dishes are nearly as photogenic and just as delicious. Brunch is a joy on the patio that’s highlighted by buttermilk waffles, skirt steak and scrambles filled with ingredients from the nearby shrubs (reservations are suggested).
The Fairway and Rough
Despite all of the luxury resort’s attractions and amenities, the 6,631-yard Rancho Bernardo Inn Gold Course is arguably the biggest draw. Flanking the west side of the property, the William Francis Bell-designed, 18-hole championship course charms as much as it challenges. Golfers from all over SoCal venture to North County to try their luck at avoiding splashes on hole No. 4 and landing balls in No. 12’s neighboring yards. With the Golf Escape package, you and another brave duffer can put your skills to the test with a one-night stay and unlimited play.