Sugar & Spice

Escape the holiday madness with a sweet retreat at Rancho Bernardo Inn.

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  • Written by
    Darren Elms

With its inland location and late-season warmth, Northern San Diego makes an ideal getaway during the last months of the year. One of the most popular destinations for locals is the charming Rancho Bernardo Inn, a sprawling resort that conveniently snuggles up next to an 18-hole championship golf course.

Family-owned for 60 years, the ranch-style property sparkles with personal touches—from the scattered glowing fireplaces to the beautiful fountains shipped home from travels abroad. Threaded through all these features is a magnificent array of plants and trees enhancing the resort’s romantic, early-Californian ambience.

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Rancho Bernardo Inn, 888-976-4417,

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Afternoons and evenings bustle with energy at the resort’s watering holes. Breakfast and lunch shine at Veranda, a casual eatery with a heated patio that overlooks the scenic golf course. Brunch is especially delightful, with either the buffet or à la carte menu options.

For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Skillet Cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel.

Just above Veranda is the resort’s signature restaurant, Avant. The owners sent chef de cuisine Aaron Thomas and his cooking staff to Provence to study with three-Michelin-starred chef Michel Guérard, author of Cuisine Minceur and a driving force in the nouvelle cuisine movement. Chef Aaron and his team brought many of those refined, healthy-cooking techniques back to the resort for the clientele to enjoy.

Cap off dinner with a sip-worthy tequila, specially bottled for the resort in small batches in Guadalajara. The bar also offers a wide selection of wines and locally-crafted beers, including the tasty offerings of Mother Earth Brew Co.

Don’t Miss

Just in time for the holidays, the Rancho Bernardo Inn Spa reveals “Soothing Spice”—a full-body treatment including a cinnamon sugar scrub, ginger oil massage, and bergamot and shea butter hand and foot treatment—all topped off with a complimentary, refreshing, house-infused ginger beer.



Cinnamon Sugar Scrub

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup coconut oil

Mix all the dry ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add the coconut oil and mix until coated. Using a circular motion, scrub the skin; rinse and pat dry.