A number of nearby spas and resorts cater to a weary populace desperately in need of a getaway but worried about air travel just be aware that freedom comes at a cost

If ever there's a time when a getaway is needed, it's now. But with the fear of air travel unlikely to dissipate anytime soon, the destination of choice might not be Mexico or Hawaii. As an alternative, the Business Journal has checked in with five spas and resorts within driving distance. The silver lining: landing a last-minute reservation should be easier given all the cancellations. The resorts are pricey (starting at several hundred dollars per person or couple), but packages can reduce the cost. And given the travel slowdown these past several weeks, a number of resorts are lowering their prices. Best to check around for the best rate.

La Costa Resort and Spa
Carlsbad, San Diego County
(800) 854-5000
www.lacosta.com
Getting There:

Less than two hours south on the 5 Freeway.

The Buzz:

This is the place to go if your idea of relaxing is whacking away at a golf or tennis ball. The 400-acre resort, built in 1965, features two golf courses that host a PGA tournament and 21 tennis courts, with grass, clay and hard court surfaces. You can wrap yourself in exotic herbs at the spa or relax in Roman pools. The resort has an extensive daily program for kids 5 to 12 years old that extends into the evening on Fridays and Saturdays. If you really want to treat the kids, the resort even has a package that includes tickets to the nearby Legoland amusement park. Given its location in north San Diego County, you are also a short drive from the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Zoo, as well as Sea World.

Four Seasons Biltmore Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County
(805) 969-2261
www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara
Getting There:

Ninety minutes north on the 101 Freeway.

The Buzz:

Yes, the hotel has tennis courts, and there are golf packages connected with three separate courses nearby. There's also a full service spa and what the hotel boasts as the only Four Diamond restaurant in Santa Barbara. So you're going to be pampered at this first-class hotel, whose 19 acres touch the Pacific. But the prime attraction here is the hotel's proximity to Santa Barbara, a great weekend get-away in itself. Revisit the mission. Check out the arts and crafts show. Shop. Go whale watching in the Channel, or try a little deep sea fishing. This also is harvest time at the 50 plus vineyards in the nearby Santa Ynez Valley. Go yourself, or take advantage of the hotel's winery package, which includes a chauffeur driven tour, lunch and no worries about who's the designated driver.

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
Ojai, Ventura County
(800) 422-6524
www.ojairesort.com
Getting There:

Less than two hours on the 101 Freeway north to Highway 33.

The Buzz:

This historic spot in the heart of the picturesque Ojai Valley only became a full-scale resort four years ago with the opening of its spa. Before then, its calling card had always been its 78-year-old golf course, host to seven PGA tournaments. Even so, this is laid back Ojai, and the resort has a distinctly casual feel. There are also some unusual touches, such as an artist-in-residence program and art studio. The restaurant features cuisine drawn from regional produce with lots of Central Coast wines. Just down the street is the village of Ojai, whose downtown is home to an assortment of art galleries, antique shops and other stores. You can bike to the village on a resort loaner. The more fit can take hikes in the nearby Topa Topa Mountains, led by a resort guide. Lake Casitas, which is known for great bass fishing, is just a short drive away. The Pacific Ocean is just 15 minutes west, and vineyards dot the surrounding valleys.

Two Bunch Palms
Desert Hot Springs, Riverside County
(760) 329-8791
www.twobunchpalms.com
Getting There:

Two and a half hours east on the 10 Freeway.

The Buzz:

If you're the type who can't sit still, skip to the next entry. Two Bunch, which draws its name from a pair of distinctive palm groves, is a place where visitors come to stare at the stars while floating in a grotto fed by hot springs or lying in a mud bath. There are a few tennis courts, but management says they're rarely used. Situated across the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs, this "retro bohemian" spa has long had cachet with the Hollywood crowd, and was featured in Robert Altman's "The Player." While you never know what star you might run into, with just 45 rooms on 56 acres the spa is very private and intimate. Visitors are even encouraged to keep their voices down, so don't go asking for autographs. If you haven't guessed it, the resort is adults only. And the pooch can't come either.

The Spa at Warner Springs
Warner Springs, San Diego County
(760) 782-4255
www.ranchspa.com
Getting There:

A little trickier 2 1/2 hours south on the 5 Freeway to the 91 east, to the 15 south to Highway 79 south.

The Buzz:

This rustic resort amid the Palomar Mountains is a low-profile historic property with a golf course and tennis. It's privately owned but open to visitors who can only access its 2,500 acres by buying a spa package. The grounds feature a natural hot spring that bubbles from the ground at 140 degrees, feeding an Olympic-sized pool. There's also full stable and trail rides, and for the brave, glider plane rides. A short drive away are Anza Borrego State Park and the quaint mountain town of Julian. The resort was popular with the Hollywood crowd decades ago, but now a casual atmosphere reigns for those who really want to get away from it all. With minimal lighting, guests are told to bring flashlights, and the 240 bungalows have no telephones or televisions. But for the full effect, you'll have to turn off your own cell phone.

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