Sugar & Spice

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

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  • Written by
    Darren Elms

With its inland situation 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 a gorgeous, 18-hole championship golf course.

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

Check In

Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo
Oaks Drive in San Diego, 888-976-4417,

Check Out

Afternoons and evenings bustle with both energy and appetites at the resort’s watering holes. Breakfast and lunch shine at Veranda, a casual eatery with a heated patio that overlooks the golf course. Brunch is a special treat, with either the buffet or à la carte menu options. Don’t let your sweet tooth 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 the resort team brought many of those refined, healthy-cooking techniques back to the resort for the clientele to enjoy.

Cap off your 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 very tasty offerings of Mother Earth Brew Co.

Don’t Miss

Just in time for the holiday, the Rancho Bernardo Inn Spa reveals the Made Fresh Daily treatment: “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.


sugarwkndr2ndCinnamon 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.