Escapes to Nature
It was time, once again, to
explore and discover quiet and peaceful places outside of the city. The anticipation of not knowing
what to expect while traipsing around the mountains, the desert, the ocean or
the bay, always fills my soul with wonder. John Burroughs has a wonderful quote that comes to mind when
thinking about these natural settings, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed
and to have my senses put in order.”
The first afternoon of this
adventure was spent driving up a winding, deserted mountain road with my
friends Lisa and David on our way to the remote destination of Palomar
Mountain, located halfway between Orange County and San Diego. During the drive to Bailey’s Palomar Resort, we stopped along
the way to take pictures of breath-taking scenery and at a roadside farm stand
to purchase huge bags of avocados for $5.00!
Palomar Resort & Retreat Center is situated on sixty pristine acres of wilderness
and on one of the highest peaks in San Diego County, with an elevation of 6,140
feet. The land, known for its spiritual qualities, has long drawn people
looking for inspiration and solitude.
In the 1700’s, the Luiseno Indians occupied this area, where sacred “rights of passage” ceremonies were held. Today, the population
is about 200. There are no strip malls or gas stations. In
his book, “Images of America — Palomar Mountain”, Brad Bailey
refers to the mountain as “truly unique, compelling and a timeless oasis in the
This first-rate country resort,
built up over the years by the Bailey family,
beginning around the 1920’s, is still in the family and taken care of
by Brad Bailey and his nature-loving wife Terri. Their love of the land is
obvious and shows itself in every direction… in the
hiking trails, the cozy sitting areas and in
the rustic pieces of old farm equipment, scattered about like
art work. The original adobe homestead is now a hotel.
Guests have plenty of other
lodging options to choose from, including luxury tent camping or spending the
night in one of the snug historic cottages, spread out on endless acres of
pristine land. We decided to stay in a two-bedroom cottage, perched on the side
of a hill. Our welcoming home felt like paradise,
with a huge private patio, bbq and outdoor living space.
The next stop, Jacumba Hot
Springs Spa and Resort, located 75 miles east of San Diego, turned out to be
the perfect place for rejuvenation and relaxation.
The name Jacumba, originates from the Kumeyaay Indian word for “hut
by the water.” In the mid 1920’s, the
hot springs was a popular destination for Hollywood stars. The size and status
of the town drastically changed after interstate I-8 was built and bypassed the
area located on Old Hwy 80. Today, the population is approximately 561, there
are no traffic problems and plenty of authentic galaxy stars fill the night
All the essential
ingredients for spending a few perfect days are here. My friend Teresa, an
acupuncturist and regular guest, has long referred to the waters as magical and
healing. I wanted to check this place out for myself and spend time swimming in the spring-fed pools, soaking in the
jacuzzi and sitting quietly, enjoying the sounds of nature. I booked a massage
with Jenny, wondering in the back of my mind, if a town
with less than 600 people could support a good therapist. I didn’t wonder for
long. Simply put, this is one of the best messages I’ve ever had!
At night, we walked across the courtyard to The Tepary Southwest Grill and
ordered Crab, Shrimp and Avocado. We saved room for a scrumptious house-made dessert, a three-citrus
cheesecake. Yum! Swimming in the pool and taking the dogs for a walk, while gazing at the stars in the dark
desert sky, was a perfect way to end the day.
time came to continue my “nature escape” and relax by the
water, I chose Paradise Point as my destination. The island resort, tucked away
on 44-acres on the shores of Mission Bay, feels like it’s a million miles away,
but is actually a 10-minute drive from the San Diego airport and 90 minutes
from Los Angeles. This tranquil wonderland, insulated from the city and
surrounded by water, is filled with lush expansive open space, lagoons and over a mile of walking paths. Fourteen miles
of scenic bike trails are nearby. While
visiting, you won’t need a car. This Four-Diamond resort features a
full-service marina, biking, tennis, an award-winning spa, swimming pools and
five dining venues. There are even bonfire pits on the beach!
After checking into my
seaside bungalow and exploring endless acres of lush foot-paths at this
vacation oasis, I headed over to the spa. Along the way, I was accompanied by
ducks, seagulls and hundreds of birds in the idyllic natural surroundings.
Quiet areas with inviting benches, encouraged
me to sit, linger and relax. The Spa at Paradise Point, voted one of
the Top 100 U.S. resort spas by Conde’ Nast Traveler, is inspired by the
tropical islands of Hawaii, Bali, Fiji and Thailand. My favorite treatment, The Sticks and Stones Massage, is influenced
by island-themed rituals. This unique and powerful therapy incorporates heated
volcanic river stones, bamboo and rattan as massage tools that penetrate deeper
layers of muscles. The use of these instruments proved to be unbelievably
effective in melting my tensions away. Afterwards,
I spent hours lingering in
the eucalyptus steam room and lush garden courtyard of this blissful
at Tidal, the signature bayside restaurant, complete with snugly
couches and flickering fire pits, capped off an impeccable day. A
seasonally-changing menu features locally-sourced dishes such as fish in paper,
with purple potato, caramelized onion, squash and flowering herb butter. We topped
off dinner with a sinfully tasty dessert and a Treasure Island craft
cocktail, consisting of flora de cana rum, Evgeny’s falernum, fernet branca,
smashed pineapple and ginger. WOW!
These nature escapes,
located in the mountains, the desert and the bay, range from rustic to elegant.
All are pet-friendly and provide the ultimate oasis for relaxing, slowing down
and quietly connecting with your soul.
Bailey’s Palomar Resort
& Retreat Center: Call: (760) 742-1859 or contact http://www.baileyspalomarresort.com
Jacumba Hot Springs Spa
& Resort: Call: (619) 766-4333 or contact http://www.jacumbaresort.com
Paradise Point Resort
& Spa: Call: (858) 274-4630 or contact http://www.paradisepoint.com