Off the beaten path

A look at three getaways treasured for their uniqueness.

September 22, 2010|By Cary Ordway of
(Cary Ordway )

Sometimes the best getaways are not the most obvious and you know the feeling when you stumble upon that extra-special experience that is good for lots of conversation around the water cooler Monday morning. California is blessed to have more than its fair share of these experiences and here are three that we can personally recommend.

Casa Tropicana Inn

For a simple overnight getaway to the beach, the Casa Tropicana Inn is about as easy as it gets. Located by the pier in a tiny beachfront community that is part of San Clemente, the Casa Tropicana is a bed-and-breakfast inn with only eight rooms, but each designed and furnished to offer more than just a hotel room. This is truly a boutique inn with stylish rooms and a lot of special attention to detail.

The Casa Tropicana is not a place to take the kids. It's a quiet getaway just for you and your partner. The flat-screen TV, Jacuzzi tub and mini-fridge with snacks make you feel right at home, while beach chairs, umbrellas and towels are ready for you to take just across the road to one of Southern California's most perfect beaches. Breakfast comes in a basket to your room and, if you like, you can take it out on the deck where you can people-watch to your heart's content. Good restaurants offer dinner right on the pier, a two-minute walk from your room.


The beach, to us, is one of the main attractions of San Clemente. It's possible to walk five miles altogether on a beach that is wide, scenic and hardly used. There is no stumbling over other beach-goers as you search for some solitude among the masses. At this beach, there is nothing but solitude along great stretches of sparkling sand where you can plop down anywhere you like, set up your blanket, chairs and a cooler.

While in San Clemente, you'll want to stroll down Avenida Del Mar where you'll find a wide assortment of shops in a lushly landscaped setting. This is not some famous shopping district with designer stores and celebrities; rather it's Main Street USA with the kind of shopping you might find in your hometown — a varied collection of shops, boutiques, antique stores, galleries and sidewalk cafes. It's a fun place to spend a little bit of your San Clemente getaway.

For more information on the Casa Tropicana Inn, call (949) 492-1234 or visit

Point Reyes Seashore Lodge

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