Looking for Central Coast/Wine Country/Northern CA honeymoon recommendations
Would love to get your opinions on where we should go for a quick 2-3 day honeymoon in August. I'm in LA, and we're considering anything north of the Santa Barbara wine country area - we'd like to get out of SoCal for once :) Since we only have a few days to get away, we don't want to spend our time driving around - we just want to hole up in an awesome hotel or resort where the on-site breakfasts and lunches are tasty and where some mind-blowing dinners are on-site, walkable, or a very quick drive away.
As for location, we'd love to be somewhat "in nature" and away from any downtowns or bustling areas. Napa, Sonoma, and Big Sur are on the list, but I'd love to know about any other central coast options or anything in Mendocino or the redwoods. We've only been CA residents for a few years, and we've been to tons of amazing restaurants in LA and a few in SF, but not many outside of the cities.
As for budget, we're looking to stay around $500/night or less for accommodations, and for food, we're willing to go a bit nuts (for example, if we end up in Yountville, we might just have to go to the French Laundry because we have not been yet). However, we'd also be totally down to spend that potential French Laundry budget on a few other great meals elsewhere, and save FL for another occasion.
Anyway, if you have any suggestions I would love to hear them! Thank you!
The Old Crocker Inn in Cloverdale (upper Sonoma valley) is a wondeful spot to "hole up" and enjoy yourselves. They serve an excellent breakfast on an outside deck or in the dining room. You might be able to get catered dinners--nearby dining is not haute cuisine, but average. You will be away from the hoardes of travelers and tour busses descending on Napa for August. An hour's drive takes you to the coast at Mendicino area.
This should go on the San Francisco area board, but I'd suggest checking out the West Sonoma County Russian River area, and specifically the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville. Another option would be the River's End Inn and Restaurant in Jenner. Both have wonderful restaurants, are in beautiful locations in nature, and there area lots of really good restaurants in the area.
A couple of places come to mind that might work for you. In Carmel, the Highlands Inn is a spectacular property. The hotel has changed hands several times since I last stayed there, but it is still a great place to stay. The restaurant used to be rated highly, but as I said, it has been a few years since I was there last. You do have access to several good to great restaurants in Carmel.
The other place I would recommend you look at is in Calistoga, the Cottage Grove Inn. They have individual cottages that are fully appointed. No restaurant on premises, but close to many in the Napa Valley. French Laundry might be reaching a bit for this trip, but you can get the same quality food at Ad Hoc or Bouchon, which are both owned by Thomas Keller and are just down the street from FL.
Thanks for the suggestions so far. Don't worry about driving distance as we're totally okay with flying and renting. We're not really interested in exploring or driving around or trying wineries - we just want to hole up in a gorgeous hotel for a few days alone and step out nearby for some good meals. We don't want to go to SY/SB because we've been there a ton of times and would like something different. Thanks!
With your budget, I would consider Bardessono in Yountville. The rooms are beautiful there and ours had a spacious balcony. You can walk to Bottega, Bistro Jeanty, Ad Hoc and Redd from this property.
Another consideration is Solage in Calistoga. It is a gorgeous property with a fantastic restaurant, Solbar where dined in March. Have fun! :)
Ballard Inn is barely outside of your self-imposed geographical limits, in the little town of Ballard close to Santa Ynez just north of Santa Barbara, but it meets so many of your other criteria so it is worth a look. http://www.ballardinn.com/
I don't know why you are rejecting the Santa Barbara area because there are some lovely hotels and B&B combos that also meet many of your criteria: Simpson House and San Ysidro Ranch immediately come to mind. Anything further than Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara is a driving strain that may not be worth it for the charm and good dining you are looking for when a lot of this already exists closer to home.
For Napa and Sonoma counties you will need to post on the SF Board. However, for those locations and especially anything further north you would be spedning much of your time just getting there and back (assuming that you are driving from LA).
Big Sur is beautiful, and isolated, no easily accessible wine country nearby. August will be quite hot inland, you might want to consider something close to the Pacific, stay at the Dream Inn in Santa Cruz, check out their "wine ghetto" and the nearby mountain wineries, or the Baccara resort north of Santa Barbara and hit the tasting rooms in Los Olivos or the original wine ghetto in Lompoc.