As you make your summer travel plans, consider breaking up your trip on either side to make for a more pleasant journey. Heading north, say to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe, you might want to stay overnight instead of making it in one long haul. The Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant right off Highway 5 in Coalinga would be my choice for such an option.
There is really nothing like Harris Ranch from Stockton all the way to Bakersfield. It is the class of the Central Valley and well worth a good night’s rest and more. I will bet you have driven right by it several times but just didn’t think ahead about a pit stop. This is the crown jewel of the Harris Ranch Beef Company, which spans several generations in its longevity. Owners John and Carole Harris have put together the best hotel within hundreds of miles and multiple restaurants of equal quality.
The Inn features a classic California-Spanish design reminiscent of La Quinta Resort and Spa. Huge Palm trees and lush landscaping surround this two-story rectangular property, which has a very elegant pool area on the inside. The hotel is situated on the backside of the Harris Ranch Restaurant and away from any freeway noise. The setting is so peaceful I could actually spend a couple of days here, and it is not surprising that it is so popular as a retreat destination.
The rooms are huge, just like the steaks here. My standard single was as big as a suite at most properties. State-of-the-art electronics, comfortable bedding, and oversized bathrooms all make for a pleasant stay. The hotel also has a fitness room and private outdoor spa area. Finding a quality hotel along I-5 is a real challenge, so I would plan my driving trip accordingly and anchor it around a stop at Harris Ranch.
The Harris Ranch Restaurant actually comprises several dining options. On this visit, I dined at the Steakhouse, which is the fine dining choice. When in Rome as they say — well, I had to have a rib-eye here, and it was delicious. The portion was so large it could have fed two people. The service and wine selection was what you would expect from a very high end establishment.
Next door is the Horseshoe Lounge, which is a very popular watering hole with great food as well. Large screen TVs and plenty of horse racing memorabilia adorn this popular bar area. John Harris is well known in the thoroughbred world, and his Harris Ranch Horse Division nearby has raised and trained many of the most famous thoroughbreds in California.
The Ranch Kitchen is open all day and is the most popular dining choice at Harris Ranch. Owner Carole Harris has decorated this area in a very homey, traditional fashion that could remind one of a Mimi’s Café or Marie Callendar’s. Maybe those two got their inspiration at Harris Ranch. Make sure to stop in the market before you leave, and they can wrap a steak in ice for when you get home. Visit HarrisRanch.com for complete details.
Navigating the L.A. area takes some planning ahead, and it is often best to start nearby rather than trying to make it from Santa Barbara. The Courtyard Marriott Ventura Simi Valley is perfectly located on Highway 118 for such an undertaking. Whether you are heading to a Dodger Game, Disneyland, or Universal Studios, this would be a good place to stay over.
I really like the design of the newer Courtyards with the lobby bistro and its modern design. You can get a very good meal on the run all day long and relax there on the weekends while watching your favorite sports team.
The rooms are very comfortable with the best in electronics and linens to ensure a good night’s sleep. There are many restaurants and markets close to the hotel, which is something I always look for when on the road.
Golfers will want to check out Lost Canyons Golf Club and Wood Ranch Country Club, both excellent facilities and not more than a 10-minute drive from the Courtyard. For further information visit www.marriott.com/.