Best All-Inclusive Resorts in California

Best All-Inclusive Resorts in California

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Whether you’re a young couple, a family of four, or a group of friends looking for the perfect place to start and end your vacation days, the best overall all-inclusive California resort is definitely the Hotel Del Coronado.

Located right on the beach, this historic resort rests on the white sand dunes of Coronado Beach in one of the most iconic San Diego neighborhoods. With activity centers for kids, signature taco Tuesdays, and a close proximity to tourist shops and cocktail bars, the Hotel Del Coronado has something for everyone and will make your vacation both classic and fun.

California, the Golden State, a surf and skate paradise, the west coast wonder, and well, pretty much the best state ever. From Monterey to Coronado, you’d be hard-pressed to find a city in California that isn’t prime for vacationing. While California is arguably one of the most beautiful vacation destinations, where you hang your vacation hat should be equally beautiful.

Coastal cities don’t leave much to be desired when it comes to places to stay. Almost any hotel, inn, or resort has a view of either the big blue Pacific or the desert mountains. However, while California is a jack of all trades when it comes to vacations, its seaside regions tend to have a party atmosphere, catering to the college kids and beach bumming crowd.

California is also a large state that offers very different gifts depending on where you spend your time, from the northern California forests to the southern California tropics. While some vacationers are looking for a college town feel, others might be more interested in a resort with a fancy villa theme. There’s an infinite number of getaway options, and if you don’t know where to start, we’ve made your job easier by making a list of the best all-inclusive resorts in California.

The All-Inclusive Resorts in California We RAVE About

Best Overall: Hotel Del Coronado

This beautiful, castle-like resort is not only a historical landmark in San Diego, but individuals of all ages will fall in love with its white picketed balconies and crystal chandeliers. The Hotel Del Coronado has something for everyone, whether it’s movies on the beach, live music shows, seaside painting classes, or state of the art spa treatments.

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Visit Hotel Del Coronado

Best for Families: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Tenaya Lodge is not a resort designed to keep visitors lounging all day. Activity is the name of the game here, and with a 75-acre kids adventure course, all day camps, archery lessons, rafting tours, and more, Tenaya is by far the best California Resort for families large and small.

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Visit Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Best for Young Couples: Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Catamaran shows visitors the “exotic side of San Diego,” hosting exotic bird shows, sunset luaus, and sternwheeler cocktail cruises. Located on San Diego’s more isolated peninsula, Mission Bay, the Polynesian-themed resort gives young couples a tropical getaway without having to book a trip out of the country.

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Visit Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

It’s a fact of life that humans need time away from their everyday lives to rest and recuperate. While not everyone is a big time corporate executive or CEO of a multi-million dollar company, at some point everyone needs to get out of their typical cycle and treat themselves to some well-deserved vacation therapy. Maybe it’s once a year, once every couple months, or for those of you with larger families, perhaps once every couple years.

The point isn’t how often you go, it’s about where you go when you do finally decide to get on that plane and gift yourself some playtime. And truly, there’s no better place to kick off your heels than the state of sun, surf, and serene mountaintops.

It might sound cliché, but in California relaxation isn’t just an activity, it’s a way of life. This is a place where taking care of your heart, mind, and body is an everyday event, since the beach is a backyard, the mountains are a skyline, and vitamin D is in constant supply. Here, people see dolphins on their morning run and hike through forests of sequoias in the afternoon.

It’s sad that we aren’t all lucky enough to call California a permanent home, but everyone should make an effort to visit at least twice, to both the northern and southern California vacation treasure troves.

But with such a large state that has so much to offer, it can be intimidating to try and figure out where to start looking for places to stay. California does have it all, with hotels tailored to the loose and laid-back as well as grand resorts for those with a Beverly Hills propensity.

That’s why we made a list of the best all-inclusive resorts in California, from the northern shores of Monterey to the Mediterranean vibes of Pacific Beach, all to make the research process for your perfect resort as easy and breezy as the west coast beaches.

It’s true that with the phrase “all-inclusive” comes the fear of spending “all your money.” While some of these resorts lean toward royal luxury, not all are designed to burn holes in your wallet. The added expenses contribute an element of ease to your trip, since you don’t have to piece together fragments of a vacation that could be all-inclusive.

It’s not a word that has to mean expensive, it just means that everything the hotel has to offer is available to you at will. Still, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Other than all the paradise features of California, wonky weather is sometimes part of the package.

For a vacation, it’s important that the place where you kick back and relax every night is also a place where you can have fun and fulfilling activities in case there’s ever a need to stay in.

Paying attention to nearby attractions, overall aesthetic, activities, and special event packages, these Golden State resorts listed below are all excellent choices for young couples, families, groups of friends, or individual escapes. While each resort has its own unique charm and tailored audience, every choice comes with a guaranteed breathtaking view.


Vacations should be all about you, so it’s important that wherever you choose to stay fits the experience you want. For those who have never visited California before, it’s not like booking a trip to Florida, where every city is a beach town and the major hotspots like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando are all within a couple hours of each other.

The state of California spans the entirety of both Arizona and Nevada and could fit almost half the east coast inside of it. Planning one vacation for both San Diego and Los Angeles would be exhausting, and trying for Monterey and Santa Barbara would be impossible.

For California, it’s best to plan your vacation around specific activities you want to do rather than the cities you want to visit, especially since we can guarantee nearly all of California’s cities are worth visiting. It’s much more worth your time to decide whether you want a vacation filled with river rafting, mountain climbing, and horseback riding versus snorkeling, surfing, and sand dune tanning.

Proximity to attractions – No matter how much we all love to sleep and lay poolside, the point of vacationing is rarely to stay within the resort property fences. California has some of the best beaches, museums, shopping centers, and national parks in the U.S. It would be a shame to waste the opportunity to visit as many as possible.

Resort aesthetic – A resort shouldn’t just be a place where you get a few hours of sleep, it should be part of the getaway experience. Let’s be honest, we all love that first moment of walking into a lobby with the décor making us believe in love at first sight.  

Included resort activities – While vacations should be about experiencing the city you’re visiting, the resort should have some of its own nightlife and daytime adventures to give you the best taste of California living.

Spa and fitness amenities – For the days dedicated to rest and rejuvenation, top-notch spa packages are a godsend in which you’ll never regret investing. Also, beachside spin classes usually live up to the hype.

Special event packages – For couples on their honeymoon, celebrating an anniversary, or families looking for deals, most resorts have designated offers to help celebrate special occasions.

The Best All-Inclusive Resorts in California

It’s probably a little presumptuous to call any one resort in California “the most beautiful.” Nearly all the hotels, especially in San Diego, are as stunning as resorts in Hawaii, though quite a bit less expensive. However, Hotel Del Coronado is known for being one of the most aesthetically pleasing resorts along the California coast.

Built in 1888, this beachside piece of history has hosted celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Jimmy Carter during its over 130 years as a Coronado community staple.

Since it’s such a well-known landmark in San Diego and one of the most popular hotels in California, Hotel Del hosts numerous community events as part of the resort experience. Just a few of the activities putting Hotel Del a cut above the competition include beach bonfires, outdoor films, taco Tuesdays, painting classes, live music shows, and fitness classes on the sand. There’s also more live music at the hotel’s Babcock & Story Bar on the weekends.

The resort is also incredibly family oriented, with a DelVenture activity center for kids ages four through 12, and a spa special for expecting mothers. Dogs and cats are also allowed to stay at the resort with prior notice. Located near 17 unique shops and boutiques, dozens of beach-side bars and grills, and some of San Diego’s best ice cream shops, the Hotel Del gives visitors a classic Southern Californian experience.


  • Located on the beach
  • Historical landmark
  • Limitless activities


  • More expensive
  • Far from downtown
  • Limited childcare services

Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

Book your stay with Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa

This San Diego resort is iconically tropical. For those who don’t feel like paying an arm and a leg for a cruise around the Caribbean or a high class trip to Cancun, Catamaran is the next best thing. Perhaps, we dare say, even better.

Catamaran is a lot closer to downtown than the Hotel Del but provides the same sort of beach seclusion. This resort feels like the Bahamas, offering casual elegance complete with forests of palm trees, tiki torch lined walkways, serene koi ponds, and waterfalls with exotic birds that apparently enjoy striking up conversations with guests. The knowledgeable hotel staff can also educate you on these colorful and magnificent birds.

There are also riverboat cocktail cruises available to take you around the lagoons of Mission Bay and Pacific Beach. Complimentary arcades, sunset luaus, and beachfront whirlpools are all part of the many Catamaran packages. This place might as well have special offers pouring out of their lobby waterfalls with all the spa packages, Sea World packages, and water sport packages, just to name a few.


  • Tropical atmosphere
  • Beach cruises
  • Many special package offers


  • More city hustle and bustle
  • Less daily resort activities
  • Limited childcare services

Guess who’s willing to babysit your kids — these guys! Monarch Beach caters to both the family dynamic and parents needing to get a night out. In addition to family lawn games, this gorgeous Tuscan-themed hotel also offers kids camps and quality family tee time on the beachfront golf course. Plus, there’s romantic dining for when the adults want some quality time with each other and their wine glasses.

Special events such as live music concerts, sunset golf tours, happy hours, and weekend brunch are also available to Monarch guests. The resort is notably located right on a seaside cove which, as many Californians know, means warmer waters for swimming.

Monarch’s accommodations are also impressive: Almost every room has an ocean view and is decorated in a very clean, modern style. Some suites even have fireplaces. While all of the rooms are incredibly spacious, the presidential rooms are as large as penthouse apartments.


  • Located on the beach
  • Childcare services
  • Breathtaking views


  • More expensive
  • Less daily resort activities
  • Relatively far from local shops

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Book your stay with Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Monterey is often referred to as the “Southern France” of Northern California due to its vibrant flowers, ample palm trees, small town feel, and cutesy boutique shops. So not surprisingly, Monterey Plaza is called “the grand dame of the bay.”

This resort takes “beachside” to a whole new meaning. The hotel is built quite literally on the water, with wooden beams holding the hotel safely above the portside rocks and king waves. If you’re looking to become connected with your inner mermaid or merman, this is your place. There’s a luxury rooftop spa, as well as rooftop dining and lounging, fireplaces included.

Despite the very 1970s Pierview feel, Monterey Plaza, like Monarch, is also designed with very Italian architecture. The hotel offers a bed and breakfast package, a spa package for two, and a coastal curator to help you experience the best of historical Monterey during your visit. Right next door to the plaza, you can enjoy complimentary bikes and rent kayaks and paddle boards.


  • Located on the beach
  • Rooftop spa
  • Close to local shops


  • No childcare services
  • Less daily resort activities
  • Limited travel packages

There’s a lot of hype surrounding California’s famous Yosemite national park. People say it’s the most beautiful place they’ve ever been, there’s nothing like it in the world, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. It’s all true.

Yosemite National Park is located in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California. Covering over 700,000 acres, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, and glaciers. Surprisingly, Tenaya’s resort is on the less expensive side of our list so it’s worth it to take advantage of this opportunity.

Jeep tours, horseback riding, zip lining, river rafting, and paint and wine nights are just a few of the many activities you can do. Tenaya is very different from the previous four resorts in that it’s not located seaside, but rather in the heart of one of California’s most admired national parks. But this hotel is far from rustic, dressed as a five-star lodge with lighted pools and cabanas.


  • Located in Yosemite park
  • Limitless resort activities
  • Childcare services


  • Far from local shops
  • Vehicle fees
  • Pets not allowed off leash

The Cliffs Hotel is one of Los Angeles’ coastal treasures. It is located just above Shell Beach, near a variety shops that rent surfing, kayaking, and paddle boarding equipment to hotel guests. Within just a few miles, there’s also a wide selection of vineyards and wine tasting attractions so you can experience the refreshing fermentation for which California is best known for yourself.

California’s famous Hearst Castle is less than an hour away and is a bucket list attraction for many avid roadtrippers. We know an hour might seem like a long way, but in California, that’s relatively close. At the hotel, you can receive the royal treatment with modernized marble Jacuzzis and ocean view rooms.

Similar to Catamaran, hotel packages are The Cliff’s specialty. There are six specials and 15 premium packages, including Honeymoon Dreaming, Nifty 50, Spring Break’s Stay 3 & Eat Free, Signature Sundays, Birthday Celebration, Soothing Sea Spa Package, and about a dozen more.


  • Located on the beach
  • Limitless resort packages
  • Close to wine tastings


  • Far from local shops
  • Limited resort activities
  • No childcare services

Also located in the Los Angeles county, Terranea Resort is a hidden gem. The hotel is a 102-acre oceanfront paradise located on the Palos Verdes peninsula, where many California millionaires own summer homes. The resort is also in close proximity to the LA Maritime Museum where you can climb aboard the Queen Mary and see restored areas that have been under wraps since her final voyage in 1967. Santa Monica’s pier amusement park is also just a short drive away.

Wine tasting, seaside yoga classes, golf lessons, falcon interactions, and more are complimentary experiences included with your stay at Terranea. And, while the resort has many high class restaurants to enhance your dining experience, a more popular dinner option appears to be the cliffside bonfires and cocktails.

Terranea is also family-friendly, providing the Tide Pool Kids Club for the resort’s younger guests, educating kids on the wildlife inhabiting the tide pools on the beaches of Palos Verdes. Additionally, there’s an adults-only pool, which is reassuring for younger couples looking for a quiet afternoon tanning.


  • Located on the beach
  • Ample resort activities
  • Close to popular attractions


  • High pet fees
  • Very expensive
  • Daily resort fees

And back into the wilderness we go. If you have never been to California, you might be surprised to know that Yosemite and the Red Woods are not the only reasons visitors choose to vacation away from the beach. Lake Tahoe is one of California’s most popular natural attractions as well.

This large freshwater lake, like Yosemite, is located in the Sierra Nevadas, straddling the state line between California and Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, and the second deepest lake in the U.S. Yet, it’s quite literally crystal clear.

Lake Tahoe’s Resort Hotel is very similar to the Hotel Del Coronado: Once inside, you might forget that it’s located hours away from the coast. The lobby’s waterfalls and greenery set this hotel apart from its sister resort in Yosemite, and the white washed modern room decor and glass walls make it feel less earthy and more like a tropical spa getaway.

Similar to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel does have many kids activities and camps, giving parents a chance to wine and dine at Echo, the resort’s outdoor eatery and happy hour hot spot.  This gorgeous resort’s only downside is that there are no spa services offered. But then again, you’ll probably spend most of your time floating around Lake Tahoe anyway.


  • Located on Lake Tahoe
  • Ample resort activities
  • Kids camps


  • Limited resort packages
  • Far from local shops
  • No spa services

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

Book your stay with Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

One of the best features of this resort is that it’s fairly new and freshly renovated. Located in the heart of Santa Barbara with the beach front and center, the Hilton Santa Barbara provides private balconies and patio gardens with mountain and ocean views from every room. There are plenty of lawn games and sports courts with one of the largest indoor pools in the region. Bikes and beach equipment are also available for rent upon request.

If you’re a food or wine nut, this resort will make you feel right at home. The hotel’s Fess Parker Wine Tasting room allows you to participate in high class wine tastings with cheese appetizer plates and a self-service wine dispenser. There’s also complimentary in-room dining, a Java Del Mar coffee shop, poolside beverages, and an outdoor patio overlooking the beach. The outdoor patio is also open to dogs for Yappy Hour.

For activities outside the resort, Stearns Wharf is less than a mile away from downtown Santa Barbara, with plenty of family-friendly attractions such as the Santa Barbara Zoo or the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. There’s also The Funk Zone, an eclectic district with art galleries and an Urban Wine Trail for those who didn’t have enough at the resort.


  • Located on the beach
  • Smoke free
  • Near many local attractions


  • Limited resort activities
  • Expensive
  • Pet fees

La Quinta Resort and Club

Book your stay with La Quinta Resort and Club

Located just beneath the beautiful Santa Rosa Mountains of Palm Springs, the La Quinta Resort and Club is a secluded resort for those seeking some peace and quiet. But just because it’s meant for relaxation, doesn’t mean there aren’t ample activities to do. In fact, this resort is probably one of the largest on our list and possibly the best equipped to keep folks out of their cars for a week.

Offering championship golf courses, an award-winning spa, and 41 pools across the property’s 45 vibrant acres, La Quinta is modeled after a traditional Spanish village. This historic vacation destination opened in 1926 and is the longest running resort in Palm Springs.

La Quinta’s desert retreat has five outstanding restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine, 23 tennis courts, and its own plaza shops. Here, the point is to rest and relax away from the city and the tourism. It’s a time for solitude, serenity, and sleep. The exception, of course, is for those who decide to participate in the golf tournaments. The rest of us will just hang out poolside.


  • More private
  • Ample resort activities
  • Spanish villa feel


  • Limited resort packages
  • Far from larger cities
  • More expensive

What does “all-inclusive” mean?

“All-inclusive” is the board basis of the hotel and normally means that all meals, drinks, and special activities are included in the price of your stay. Other additions to all-inclusive resort packages can also consist of water sport lessons, golf tournaments, wine tastings, city tours, beach luaus, and more.

Different hotels provide different activities, so we recommend visiting the hotel’s official website to see what they offer. There may also be special packages or bundle options that are separate from the regular all-inclusive deal. The price quoted for a nightly resort stay should include the all-inclusive option and you should not have to pay anything extra when you arrive, unless you want to participate in any extra activities not specified.

Do all of these resorts allow for young children?

Yes, all of these resorts cater to families with young children. It’s rare to find an all-inclusive resort that doesn’t allow children on the premises, since most vacationers are families looking to get some fresh air and relaxation. While not all of these resorts provide kid-friendly activities on the property, the majority of them do, and include things like arcade areas, kids camps, and family beach games. Even if the resort doesn’t provide all these activities, each one on our list welcomes families of all sizes and ages.

If you’re looking for the best family-friendly resorts, Hotel Del Coronado, Tenaya Lodge, Lake Tahoe Resort, Catamaran Resort, and Terranea Resort are our top choices. Also note that some of these hotels even provide babysitting services, such as La Quinta Resort and Club and Monarch Beach Resort.

Are any of the resorts pet-friendly?

Yes. Californians love their animals, so it’s no surprise that five of the 10 resorts we listed specify upfront that they welcome furry friends — as long as they are well behaved.

The Hotel Del Coronado, Catamaran Resort, Tenaya Lodge, Terranea Lodge, and the Hilton Santa Barbara all allow dogs on the property. The Hotel Del is the only one that also accepts cats in addition to canine companions. However, there are some additional rules and expenses that come with bringing a pet on the resort properties, including a pet fee, two animal limit, and breed restrictions.

Each hotel is different and includes different rules about what is and is not allowed regarding vacationing with your pets. For specifics, go to the hotel’s website and visit their About page, FAQs tab, or their Policies section. Still, it’s always best to call the hotel directly to see if policies have changed.

Do all these resorts have spa services?

Every one of these hotels except for the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel has spa services or a spa package including mud baths, seaweed wraps, and couples massages. Some packages also include hair care, yoga classes, spa baths, and special treatments for expecting mothers.

Many people who attend all-inclusive resorts don’t take full advantage of their spa privileges while on vacation. It might seem like overkill with such natural body care like the sand and surf at your disposal, but spa professionals have the uncanny ability to make you feel brand new with a little wrap here, a little mud there, and a back stretch in between. Also, if it’s included in the price of your stay, you might as well make the most of it.

What is the best all-inclusive resort in California?

The best all-inclusive resort in California overall is by far the Hotel Del Coronado. With its rich history, endless amount of on-sight activities for the whole family, and close proximity to some of San Diego’s best shops and eateries, the Hotel Del is truly paradise. And, depending on the time of year you go, you can witness some of the most beautiful weddings right on the beach. Speaking of the Coronado Beach, on a clear day, you can see the offshore islands and the end of Point Loma’s peninsula and Sunset Cliffs.

When it comes to the best all-inclusive California resorts for families, Tenaya Lodge takes the cake with its 75-acre kids adventure course, all day camps, archery lessons, rafting tours for the family, and horseback riding lessons.

Young couples looking for a romantic trip laying beachside are among the most common types of vacationers. Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is the best all-inclusive resort for California-bound couples.

Catamaran actually rivals Hotel Del in some aspects, especially being in such close proximity to Mission Bay. Hosting exotic bird shows, sunset luaus, and sternwheeler cocktail cruises, Catamaran shows visitors the best of San Diego’s most exotic themes.

RAVE Recommends

So, you’ve finished the most crucial part of the vacation planning process. You chose a hotel, hopefully booked a flight, and now you’re up to your eyebrows in excitement for a well-earned vacation to revitalize your soul. Now comes the dreaded process of packing. But before you stuff your suitcase to the zipper’s breaking point, here’s a list of items to consider taking with you on your West coast excursion.

Victoria Davis

Victoria Davis

Victoria Davis is a freelance multi-media journalist. Working for a variety of online and print publications in Wisconsin, California, and New York, Victoria is known for her entertainment enthusiasm and feature reporting.