In Bloom: the Best B&Bs for Early Sights of Spring
Winter-weary travelers desperate for sights of spring can pack their bags for California’s deserts and coastal regions, where they’ll find sunshine and some of the earliest spring blooms in the country. The past season’s heavy rains are expected to yield some of the most surprising and colorful spring blooms in recent years. Innkeepers at several bed and breakfast inns in California can guide guests with maps and trail suggestions for blooming desert landscapes and lush hills dappled with native wildflowers.
The luxurious El Morocco Inn & Spa in Desert Hot Springs serves as an ideal base for discovering the magic of Southern California’s springtime desert wonderland. The inn is conveniently located within a short drive to Joshua Tree National Park, Morongo Valley Preserve, and the famous Palm Springs Indian Canyons, including Tahquitz Canyons with its spectacular waterfalls. Cacti and wildflowers generally begin blooming in the lower elevations of the desert basin in late February and at higher elevations in March and April. The innkeepers provide guests with hiking maps and insider information on the best places to walk, run, bike and hike, including favorite hidden waterfalls and blooming oases. Afterwards, slip into the inn’s natural hot springs swimming pool for a relaxing soak or raise a glass at the inn’s nightly happy hour featuring their signature cocktail, “The Morocco-tini.”
Other desert-area bed and breakfast inns include Las Fuentes Inn and Gardens, Andreas Hotel & Spa, Lake LaQuinta Inn, Rendezvous Bed & Breakfast, Roughly Manor Bed & Breakfast, and Villa Royale Inn.
California’s winter rains have transformed Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, into a verdant island paradise. The island’s typically arid hills are now lush with greenery and the native wildflowers are soon to bloom, painting the hills with blue, yellow, orange and white. Tidy tips and blue dicks, shooting stars and milk maids, island poppies and wild hyacinths will bloom alongside California poppies, Mariposa lilies and prickly pear cactus, creating dazzling swaths of color. There are two fabulous bed and breakfast inns in Avalon to choose from. The sleek and modern Aurora Hotel features a roof-top deck with sweeping views and ocean-view or city-view guest rooms with plush bedding and flat-screen televisions. The Avalon Hotel on Catalina Island creates an enchanting environment with luxurious bedding, unique artwork and classic Craftsman style. Expeditions to the interior of Catalina Island, including Jeep tours and hiking trips, can be arranged through both inns.
On the far northern coast of California in Westport at Howard Creek Ranch, spring begins in February and just keeps going. A working farm and a designated historic site, Howard Creek Ranch is nestled on sixty acres of wilderness with an adjoining beach and trails into the redwoods-covered mountains. Hiking through fern-covered canyons, guests will find an array native wildflowers, including California Lady Slipper, Wild Iris, Wake Robins (Trillium ovatum), Wild Hyacinths, Coast Lily, Redwood Lily, Larkspur, Columbine, Buttercup (Ranunculus californicus), Indian pinks (a form of Silene), Morning Glory (otherwise known as bindweed) and wild violets. The guest accommodations include rustic cabins and suites with views, fireplaces, skylights, antiques and handmade quilts. The inn also features a hot tub, sauna, massage, a piano, flower gardens and a 75-foot swinging foot bridge over Howard Creek.
Alegria Oceanfront Inn & Cottages
Orange Cranberry Chocolate Chip Toasted Walnut Scones
Makes 22 scones
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 an orange (about 1 teaspoon)
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups chilled butter (2 1/2 sticks)
1 cup dried cranberries*
1 cup toasted walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, beat together egg, buttermilk, vanilla extract and orange zest. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl or food processor. Cut in chilled butter. If using food processor, transfer mixture to a large bowl after mixing in butter. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix together (with a tossing motion) until a loose, soft dough forms. Fold in cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chips. Scoop dough out onto greased baking sheets with an ice cream scoop placing scones about 1 1/2-inches apart. Brush with cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake 15-17 minutes.
To Freeze: Scoop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. After frozen solid, store in a hard plastic container up to one month in the freezer. To bake, place scones on greased cookie sheet and let them thaw about 20 minutes before putting them into preheated 375°F oven.
Optional: In a saucepan, bring dried cranberries and 1/4 cup cointreau (or orange juice with a splash of brandy) to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain cranberries before adding to dough.
“These scones took 1st place at the Mendocino County Fair in 2005. Eric and Elaine’s daughter, Tavi, who was 8-years-old at the time, entered her Buttermilk Biscuits in the adult division because she missed the deadline for the kid’s division. Tavi won 1st Place beating her mom, a victory almost as delicious as her biscuits.” —Innkeeper, Alegria Oceanfront Inn & Cottages
For more delicious recipes from CABBI-member inns, order our CABBI Cookbook online or peruse recipe collections in our Online Recipe Box.
How I Became an Innkeeper
Yosemite Peregrine Lodging
by Kay and Don Pitts
What to do? You are living in Yosemite Valley but you are going to retire which means leaving paradise. Fortunately, there is some private land within the park.
Our taste in architecture outstripped our budget, but, if we built our dream house as a bed and breakfast we could afford it.
Put another way: If we worked our butts off 14 hours a day we could afford to stay in Yosemite.
We had had plenty of experience with guests. When you live in a gorgeous setting, you’re guaranteed to have numerous friends, but they all stayed for free. Now we could charge money to strangers.
We traveled around in California staying at various bed and breakfast inns, asking lots of questions of the owners and determining what types of accommodations we liked best. We went to B&B school in Santa Barbara and learned a great deal more.
With help, we designed our beautiful home---- and opened for business in 1993. In 1998, we were able to afford to buy the lot next door and build a vacation home with two more guest rooms.
There have been many adventures with guests along the way, mostly positive and a few negative. If you enjoy meeting people and working hard it’s a great business. (And there are good tax breaks!)
Looking for a Pet-Friendly Bed & Breakfast?
More than 70 CABBI-member bed and breakfast inns welcome pets. Some even offer special pet amenities like water and food bowls, treats and more. So if you're looking for a great place to visit -- and one that your furry friends will also enjoy -- read about some of the pet-friendly bed and breakfasts inns in California.
You can also search specifically for pet-friendly inns on CABBI's advanced search page (just click to expand "facilities" and click the box next to "pets allowed").
Wedding and Elopement Packages
For your Fantasy Elopement at the in Santa Barbara, choose a room at the only AAA rated Five Diamond bed and breakfast in North America. The Simpson House Inn elopement package takes care of all of the details including the officiate, wedding license appointment, bouquet and boutonniere, live music, a photo CD, wedding cake and champagne with keepsake crystal flutes. The elopement package is available Sunday through Thursday for $1,395 plus tax a night. Two nights are required. Additional rates and days are available.
Napa’s is an inviting romantic retreat, blending classical architecture with sophisticated décor. 1801 First’s Elopement Package includes two nights’ accommodations, daily gourmet breakfast and evening wine and hors d’oeuvres, on-site ceremony with an officiate, bridal bouquet and boutonniere, a cake and champagne toast for up to six, a professional photographer, and a 50-minute in-suite couple’s massage. The package price is $3,000, plus tax. Elopements are hosted Sunday through Thursday.
For an intimate, romantic elopement in the heart of wine country, let in Healdsburg take care of every detail. The Honor Mansion’s exclusive elopement package includes: lodging in a luxurious suite, seasonal flowers, an ordained minister, cake for up to four, a professional photographer, keepsake album with pictures, appetizer reception, sparkling wine, a romantic rose petal candlelight turndown for your wedding night and a cozy in-room breakfast the next morning. The packages are for two to four nights, ranging from $3,000 to $4,400, taxes included.
Say ‘I do’ amid majestic cedars and pines at the near Yosemite. The inn specializes in elopements and small weddings up to 15 people, with packages ranging from $495 to $1,195. Their “Just for the Two” package includes a wedding consultant, minister, ceremony and a champagne toast. The “Wedding and Honeymoon” package includes all of the above plus a rose bouquet, boutonnière and two nights' lodging with a gourmet breakfast, wine and appetizers. Also ask about the “Dreams Come True” package, which includes a ceremony for up to 15 people, custom engraved champagne flutes and a cake.
Overlooking the Monterey Bay, the offers an intimate elopement package. The package includes a small wedding cake and a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider. The inn’s wedding coordinator will also assist with contacting an officiate based on your preferences. The elopement fee is $250; additional charges apply for other services. Arrangements must include the reservation of a room of your choice.
Whether you exchange vows under a canopy of oak trees, on the piazza, in the garden, or in the parlor in front of the fireplace, the will create a memorable wedding. The inn’s elopement package includes officiate, bouquet and boutonnière, petite bridal cake and champagne toast. Wedding packages include the inn's romantic three-level suite for the wedding night, rooms for guests, tables/chairs/linens, luminaries, rehearsal gathering with light refreshments, and the option to invite guests for the day after breakfast and gift opening.
Looking for classic elegance and timeless beauty? Just a short stroll from downtown Napa, is a meticulously restored three-story mansion offering spacious parlors and ten luxurious guestrooms. A sweeping veranda surrounds the mansion, overlooking an acre of trees and gardens. Churchill Manor offers elopements for the just the wedding couple or up to 25 guests, sit-down dinner weddings up to 50, and buffet dinners with dancing for up to 150. The innkeepers have hosted over 1,000 weddings!
With gracious hospitality and old world charm, the near Yosemite offers an ideal site for weddings, elopements, receptions and rehearsal dinners. The inn can accommodate up to 50 guests for interior gatherings and up to 80 guests in their garden courtyard. The menus are expertly prepared and the wine list includes nearly 600 labels, which has received the Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence 11 years in a row. From lodging to flowers to ceremony and reception, the Groveland Hotel can assist with nearly every aspect of your wedding.