Stargazing is a captivating experience that fills you with a sense of wonder as you admire shimmering dots of light in the night sky. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe you can even see the craters of the moon or another planet lightyears away. It's an activity that doesn’t require any special skills and can be enjoyed from virtually any landscape.
Whether you’re in the low desert of Borrego Springs, along the sandy shoreline of Mendocino or the rugged mountains near Mammoth Lakes, there is no time like the present to attend a celestial show. These 10 California properties provide the perfect jumping-off point for your astro-adventures.
Little River Inn - Mendocino
Luminescent skies above Little River Inn in Mendocino — Photo courtesy of Little River Inn
Book the Stargazing Package at the Little River Inn, which includes a two-night stay in an ocean view room, plus a stargazing kit with binoculars, a star map and guide, a flashlight, blanket and hot cocoa.
Perched on Mendocino's coast, this spot is just remote enough to provide a good chance of spotting super-bright planets, sparkling stars and nebula clusters on clear nights. During the day, play a round of golf on their Audubon-certified golf course or a game of tennis.
- Little River Inn
The Ritz-Carlton - Rancho Mirage
Stargazing at the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage — Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage
Located less than 10 minutes from the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory, The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage offers a complimentary stargazing experience that allows you to survey the night sky with an 11-inch computerized telescope.
Weather permitting, guests can view the constellations, nearby planets and the craters of the moon. The 244-room resort sits on a bluff overlooking Palm Springs and the Coachella valley, a perfect vantage point to roast s’mores over the fire pit.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
Huttopia - Paradise Springs
Raising a toast to glamping at Huttopia Paradise Springs — Photo courtesy of Huttopia Paradise Springs
The French family-owned glamping company offers a location in Paradise Springs, which is tucked away in the San Gabriel Mountains on 135 acres of lush forest and was once a Prohibition-era retreat for reclusive Hollywood stars.
Relax on your porch and enjoy a glass of wine as you gaze up at the sky above. They will open at full capacity in 2022 when they resume for the season.
- Huttopia Paradise Springs
The Inn at Death Valley - Death Valley
The colorful skies surrounding The Inn at Death Valley — Photo courtesy of The Inn at Death Valley
With the distinction of being America's largest International Dark Sky Park and one of only eight that has achieved "Gold Tier" status, Death Valley National Park is known worldwide for its black-velvet canvas of twinkling stars and as a place where you can spot the Milky Way with the naked eye.
Book a room in the center of the action at The Inn at Death Valley, where you won’t have to venture too far to witness a symphony of stars.
- The Inn at Death Valley ? Inside the Park
Villa Royale - Palm Springs
Entrance to the Villa Royale in Palm Springs — Photo courtesy of Villa Royale
Speaking of stars, you may just run into ghosts of the Hollywood set at Villa Royale, which was established in 1947 and frequented by celebrities and industry folk seeking a secluded getaway. If you’re lucky enough to book the Evelyn Pell Villa, you’ll have your own private garden and hot tub. Luxuriate in the privacy of your suite or swim in one of the property’s three saltwater pools.
Enjoy a cocktail at Del Rey, the on-site bar and restaurant, and admire the views from the rooftop.
- Villa Royale
Eastern Sierra Observatory - Bishop
Taking in the surreal skies at Bishop's Eastern Sierra Observatory — Photo courtesy of Scott Lange/Eastern Sierra Observatory
The Eastern Sierra Observatory was once the site of an old gold mine just east of Bishop off Highway 395, and it is one of the darkest places in California. Visiting groups can book glamping accommodations and stay in a SHIFTPOD, a futuristic shelter.
View the cosmos through the 14-inch Meade telescope with Starlock auto-guiding, play a game of intergalactic skeeball, or relax in a hot tub under the stars. Be sure to make your reservations early as slots fill up quickly.
Orchard Hill Country Inn - Julian
Views from Julian's Orchard Hill Country Inn — Photo courtesy of Tim Stahl/PhotoGraphics
Each year, the small mountain town of Julian hosts a stargazing festival called StarFest, where attendees enjoy evening astronomy and daytime solar viewing. Julian is also about a 45-minute drive from Palomar Observatory, which is a world-class center of astronomical research.
But you may find it difficult to depart from your peaceful surroundings at the romantic Orchard Hill Country Inn, where a cozy main lodge and gracious hospitality awaits guests. Wander through the estate and keep an eye out for deer, wild turkeys and other wildlife.
Stables Inn - Paso Robles
Relaxing at the Stables Inn in Paso Robles — Photo courtesy of Stables Inn Paso Robles
A modern American roadside inn with a touch of equestrian chic, Stables Inn is in the heart of Paso Robles and the perfect place to indulge your stargazing escapades. A large magnolia tree hovers over a communal area with a fire pit and Adirondack chairs in the middle of the property, and in this spot you’ll be able to witness shooting stars and a variety of constellations.
Don’t miss Bruce Munro’s "Light at Sensorio," a colorful outdoor art installation nearby.
- Stables Inn
La Casa del Zorro - Borrego Springs
Soak in the rays on La Casa del Zorro's patio deck — Photo courtesy of La Casa del Zorro
Set against the backdrop of Anza-Borrego State Park, this resort has its own "stargazing theater" which allows for uninterrupted views of the night sky. Whether you stay in one of the garden rooms or a larger casita, you'll have access to many other activities including life-sized chess, tennis and pickleball, shuffleboard and a top-notch spa.
All of the casitas come with their own private pool, another prime skywatching spot.
- La Casa del Zorro
Mammoth Mountain Inn - Mammoth Lake
Milky Way from the vista near Mammoth Mountain Inn — Photo courtesy of Peter Morning/Mammoth Mountain
Located at the base of Mammoth Mountain just across from the ski area’s Main Lodge, Mammoth Mountain Inn is ideally situated for an evening of stargazing. Visit the Minaret Vista, which offers panoramic views of the mountains and a beautiful display of stars.
The hotel is also in close proximity to the Panorama Gondola and Mammoth Bike Park, making it an adventurer’s dream. Located at 8,500 feet, this hotel might just take your breath away.
- Mammoth Mountain Inn