Northern California’s rugged coastline offers a very different experience than Southern California. Cooler temperatures and remote locations cut down on crowds. But less tourism also means fewer options for lodging. So the accommodations included in this “best beach resorts” list very widely in quality & amenities. In some cases, we included bed and breakfasts, small inns and even a motel (it’s still a nice motel) when they were the best option for their particular area.
If you are only looking for luxe accommodations, there are still a few options, such as The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay (pictured above). But none of the options below will disappoint if your main goal is to enjoy the adventurous spirit of California’s North Coast.
Note: The following list of Northern California beach resorts is ordered north to south, starting in Smith River to the north and ending in Half Moon Bay to the south.
Howonquet Lodge, Smith River
Located on the stunning Northern California Coast, 3 miles south of the Oregon border, the Howonquet Lodge is part of the Lucky 7 Casino. It features 71 rooms and suites that offer both ocean and mountain views. Nearby: Smith River County Park & Clifford Kamph Memorial Park.
Scopa at the Sea, Crescent City
This Cape Code style B&B overlooks Pebble Beach and offers offers three generous suites for guest lodging. A nearby beach house is also available for rent should you need extra space. Nearby beach: Pebble Beach
Historic Requa Inn, Klamath
Built in 1914, the Requa Inn offers rooms and off site homes and has been featured in National Geographic Traveler and Sunset Magazine. Nearby beach: Klamath Beach
Lost Whale Bed & Breakfast Inn, Trinidad
This B&B sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean and is just minutes from Redwoods National Park. The inn includes three suites and your stay comes with breakfast, afternoon wine reception and homemade snacks. Nearby beach: Palmer’s Point
Oceanfront Inn, Shelter Cove
Sitting on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean in Northern California’s Lost Coast region, this inn offers rooms and suites, all of which have private balconies or decks with unobstructed views of the ocean. Nearby beaches: Mal Coombs Park & Shelter Cove Beach
Westport Hotel, Westport
Beachcomber Motel, Fort Bragg
This well rated motel is ideally located steps from the beach and Mackerricher State Park. Rooms are comfortable and spacious and include decks or patios. Nearby beaches: Pudding Creek Beach & Old Haul Road Beach.
Brewery Gulch Inn, Mendocino
This award winning B&B Inn sits above the rugged Mendocino coast and offers romantic cottage, suite and room options. Dining at the inn focuses on locally sourced ingredients. Nearby beach: Big River Beach
Stanford Inn by the Sea Eco Resort, Mendocino
This boutique resort is nestled on a hillside meadow overlooking Mendocino Bay. Rooms and suites are paneled in pine and redwood. Nearby beach: Big River Beach
Little River Inn, Little River
Perched above the ocean, the Little River Inn offers six rooms, a restaurant and even a 9 hole golf course. If booked up, consider the nearby Heritage House Resort & Spa. Nearby beach: Van Damme State Park
Elk Cove Inn & Spa, Elk
This B&B is located on Highway One about 15 miles south of Mendocino. The inn offers 16 rooms and cottages, some of which are pet-friendly. There is also a European-style day spa located on site. Nearby beach: Greenwood State Beach
Coast Guard House Historic Inn, Point Arena
Built in 1901, the Coast Guard House has stood above the Mendocino coast for over a hundred years. The inn features 6 rooms and cottages in total and was listed #3 by the New York Times in their “one of 52 places to go in 2014” article. Nearby beach: Arena Cove Beach
Sea Ranch Lodge, Gualala
Sitting above Sonoma’s rugged coastline, the Lodge is part of the Sea Ranch Community near Gualala. In addition to offering rooms and vacation rental homes, the community also offers three recreation centers that include swimming pools, saunas and tennis courts. Nearby: Black Point Beach
Bodega Bay Lodge, Bodega Bay
Perched above the Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the lodge comes wtih resort-like amenties including an oceanview pool, spa, restaurant, sauna, fitness center and concierge service. Rooms are well appointed and oversized. Nearby beach: Bird Walk Coastal Access & Doran Beach
Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel, Pacifica
This Best Western “Plus” offers amazing ocean views and a great location that is close SFO airport., but feels worlds away. This hotel offers 97 well-appointed guest rooms, including 21 suites, many with ocean views. Nearby beach: Rockaway Beach
Seal Cove Inn, Moss Beach
This exclusive ten-room Half Moon Bay area hotel sites above Seal Cove Beach and is located near the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Rooms include high-end beds, fireplaces, gourmet breakfast and evening wine reception. Nearby beaches: Seal Cove Beach & Fitzgerald Marine Reserve Beach
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Set on a bluff overlooking the ocean, this upscale resort is located just a few miles south of Half Moon Bay and features a world-class links style golf course. Nearby beach: Pelican Point Beach
Costanoa Coastal Lodge & Camp, Pescadero
This unique facility offers several lodging options including a full hotel lodge, cabins, tent bungalows, and even a campground. Also offered are onsite restaurant, store and spa. It’s one of the top eco-friendly destinations on the coast. Nearby beach: Franklin Point Beach
Heading south? Then check out these lists: