The stars are always with us, filling the night sky with bright, twinkling patterns. But from the Bay Area, getting a good look is a challenge; light pollution down below drowns out the beauty up above.
Not far from the cities of the Bay, though, the night sky still dazzles—and a handful of hotels and resorts are making it easy to see them up close.
Some offer organized events led by knowledgeable astronomers; others give you the tools you need to read the constellations on your own. Either way, you’ll be seeing stars (and planets and asteroids and whatever else the heavens have in store) at these hotels from Santa Cruz to Mendocino.
Little River Inn
At the Little River Inn on the Mendocino Coast, the swirling, flickering stars are so dramatic, it’s like being in your own private theater. With the Stargazing Package, you’ll get all the goods you need to read the constellations—special binoculars, a star map, and a star guide—from anywhere on the seaside property. Hot chocolate, Comet Corn popcorn, and a travel blanket (which is yours to take home) will help keep you cozy as you watch. Rather watch the heavens from the comfort of indoors? Stargazers are set up with two nights in a room with a view stretching out over the Pacific where the night sky can’t help but shine through. // 7751 CA-1 (Little River), littleriverinn.com
Chaminade Resort & Spa
This summer, the Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz is looking up for inspiration. In August and September, the hotel overlooking the Monterey Bay will celebrate the pale eye of night with their Moon Dinner Series. Coinciding with unique moments in the moon’s cycle—the pink moon, the super full moon, and the harvest moon—the resort is hosting a curated three-course meal with wine pairings alongside a special, interactive stargazing program led by the chair of the astronomy and astrophysics department at UC Santa Cruz. He’ll come with a telescope in tow to give you a close up look at the planets, constellations, and, of course, the moon itself. Join the Blue Moon Dinner on August 1, when there will be a super full moon, or the Harvest Moon Dinner on September 29 at Chaminade’s The View Restaurant ($100/person, reservations required). You don’t have to stay overnight but it’ll be all the more memorable if you do. // 1 Chaminade Ln (Santa Cruz), chaminade.com
Edgewood Tahoe Resort
Lake Tahoe reflects the night sky like a mirror. But despite the huge number of hotels in the area, there’s only one from which you can watch the stars as they simultaneously twinkle above and below: Edgewood Tahoe. The resort makes the most of its status as the lake’s only beachfront property with its summer star tours. In July and August, onsite star guide Tony Berendsen breaks out the telescope and invites guests to see the season’s constellations in exquisite detail. The free event (8:30pm on July 21, August 11, and August 25) is open only to Edgewood guests. // 180 Lake Pkwy (Stateline), edgewoodtahoe.com
Timber Cove Resort
The sunset views from the Sonoma Coast are among the most spectacular in the world (not that we’re biased or anything). But what happens after darkness falls, that’s pretty spectacular, too—and at Timber Cove, they’ve got exactly what you need to see them shine. They stock each suite with a pair of binoculars so that you can stargaze at your leisure from the iconic, 93-foot tall Peace Totem or anywhere on the property’s rugged bluff. Get deeper into the constellations with the resort’s telescope. The equipment is available for guests to borrow from the front desk when the skies are clear. // 21780 North Coast Hwy 1 (Jenner), timbercoveresort.com
Montage Healdsburg is delivering the most out-of-this-world astronomical experience you can have without leaving Earth. Their Sky’s the Limit package starts with private Jet Edge flights for up to six guests from anywhere in the U.S. to the Wine Country resort. The lot of you will stay in a private, three-bedroom guest house above the hotel where, one evening, you’ll be treated to a hosted dinner with a view of the Mayacamas Mountains. But it’s not until the night sky erupts with celestial light that things really get good. You’ll see and learn about the stars in two different ways: through a two-hour private tour of the Robert Ferguson Observatory, where the pros will guide you through the constellations in high-powered telescopic style, and through a two-hour personalized photography session with acclaimed astronomical photographer Rachid Dahnoun. When it’s all over, you’ll fly home with a limited edition print of one of Dahnoun’s dark sky compositions—plus a few new skills of your own—as a souvenir of your adventure. // 100 Montage Way (Healdsburg), montage.com/healdsburg