Itching for a change of scenery – and maybe a lifestyle upgrade – after a few months in quarantine? If you’ve spent the spring in too-close quarters, dreaming of the ideal hideaway, we’ve got a bit of real-estate therapy for your inspiration board. Whether you’re looking for desert solitude or serenity by the ocean, these luxe digs would make the ultimate California vacation home – and you'd just need a few million and change to make it happen. After all, what’s an escapist fantasy without, well, the fantasy?

1. A shiny new-build on the La Jolla waterfront

A modern home overlooking the ocean with the sunset reflected in the windows
311 Sea Ridge Drive, La Jolla © Pixer Pros

Sunny San Diego is a laidback paradise, but if you fancy a beachside retreat with all the bells and whistles, you’ll want to hop on I-5 to La Jolla. A contemporary 6,884-square-foot property in the neighborhood of Bird Rock, 311 Sea Ridge Drive has more than 3,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a lanai, a deck, a patio, and a lounge area with a fire pit, plus an on-site spa, a wine cellar, a media room, and direct access to the beach below.

A luxe open living room with a view out to the water
Automated doors separate the sleek interior from the outdoor living space © Pixer Pros

The stone and stucco four-bedroom also boasts open living areas, a floating bridge, cascading water walls, automated doors, and unimpeded views to the south and west – prime position to catch the sunset that’s sure to be reflected in the glass-front facade, #nofilternecessary. Turns out you get an awful lot of likes for $22 million. Brett Dickinson,

2. A mid-century stunner in Los Angeles

A modern home set amongst the trees in Crestwood Hills, Los Angeles
1249 North Tigertail Road, Los Angeles © Juwan Li

Considering the bicoastal lifestyle, or looking for a place to settle while you launch your on-camera career? Architect Raul F. Garduno’s Franks House is midcentury stunner in the modernist enclave of Crestwood Hills, in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, and it’s a step above the rest – both literally and figuratively – from its treetop perch to its redwood paneling to its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pacific.

Inside 1249 Tigertail
The Franks House has redwood paneling and period cork walls, not to mention floor-to-ceiling windows © Juwan Li

With a cascading waterfall and a koi pond out front, views of the canyons and the coastline from the living area, and a master bedroom with a fireplace and a patio, the two-bedroom, three-bath at 1249 North Tigertail Road looks like something out of a high-end shelter magazine (which makes sense, given that photographer Todd Selby currently calls it home). It’s going for $3.4 million, a small price to pay for a piece of architectural history. Aaron Kirman,

3. A Greek anomaly in the Palm Springs desert

400 W Camino Alturas in the hills of Palm Springs
400 W Camino Alturas, Palm Springs

If you had your heart set on summer in the Cyclades, this Greek-style home in the foothills of the San Jacinto mountains could be a tempting stateside alternative. Designed by architect William Nicholson, of Hillsboro, California’s Flintstone house fame, 400 West Camino Alturas is positioned on a promontory high up in Palm Springs’s Mesa neighborhood, and it’s been an outlier in the mod-happy town since its construction in 1977.

The round kitchen at 400 W Camino Alturas
A round kitchen boasts reclaimed wood, blue-and-white tiles, and professional-grade equipment © Kelly Peak/Peak Photography

As Palm Springs Life reports, the cliffside structure was formed by “shaping rebar and mesh frames over inflated balloons and spraying them with concrete,” and it stood mostly untouched until recently, when new owner Dan Valentino reimagined it as an ode to the Greek islands. After an 18-month renovation, the odd assemblage of domes and turrets has been transformed into the Santorini House, a four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot structure boasting whitewashed walls and bright-blue accents, a 10-foot fire feature alongside a freeform pool, and an elevated covered deck overlooking it all – a steal at $2.975 million. Dan Valentino,

4. A Victorian fit for Hollywood royalty

2602 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco
2602 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco © Jacob Elliott for Sotheby’s International Realty

Located in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights, a few blocks from the shops and restaurants of Fillmore Street and the scenic views of Alta Plaza Park, 2602 Pacific Avenue is an address with an impressive pedigree – and for a mere $19.95 million, it could be yours. The five-bedroom, 7,050-square-foot Victorian was designed by Samuel Newsom, architect to the city's upper class, in 1889, renovated by award-winning interior designer Nicole Hollis just a few years ago, and in between, it played host to some A-list talent.

2602 Pacific Ave kitchen
The open kitchen features calacatta marble, high-end appliances, and views toward the Bay © Jacob Elliott for Sotheby’s International Realty

As Curbed reports, Meg Ryan bought the home in the 1990s, after she’d spent time in town filming When a Man Loves a Woman, and lived there for a few years with then-husband Dennis Quaid. Hollywood’s queen of romantic comedies may not have been in residence during the property's current high-gloss incarnation, but it's certainly worthy of a closeup, from the calacatta marble–clad kitchen to the temperature-controlled wine room to the breathtaking views of Alcatraz and the Bay from the living room, bath, and penthouse patio. We’ll spare you the “I’ll have what she’s having” jokes. Neill Bassi,

5. A sprawling Mediterranean castle with a private cove

2529 South Coast Highway - evening on the patio with a fire
2529 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach © Compass

The wealthy enclave of Laguna Beach is one of California’s earliest incorporated cities, and it has an air of old-school glamour that’s unmistakeable. If you’re anticipating an inheritance or looking to spend your lottery winnings, you could do worse than Villa Rockledge (aka Mariona Villa), a sprawling 25,000-square-foot property once frequented by film icons like Erroll Flynn and Bette Davis. (The latter met her third husband on the premises in the ‘40s, per the listing).

2529 South Coast Highway Dining Room
At Villa Rockledge, you could be retracing the footsteps of Old Hollywood icons © Compass

The National Register of Historic Places–listed compound has 12 bedrooms and 11 baths spread across a main house and four guest villas, a set of stairs leading to a private cove, and an array of enviable terraces overlooking the ocean. Sure, the asking price is $27 million, but you’ll get a “significant” tax break for maintaining the estate’s appearance – so it’s basically a write-off if your pockets are deep enough. Azita Sadeghi,

You might also enjoy: 

This home decor will transport you to the destinations of your dreams

10 ways hotel stays will change after COVID-19

7 soothing crafts from around the world to learn at home


Explore related stories

Felucca boats sailing on the Nile River. The Aga Khan’s domed mausoleum sits on the hill in the background.


10 classic sailing adventures

Aug 7, 2020 • 7 min read