If you take the time to eat out (versus eating while driving in the car) you ought to enjoy the scenery once in a while. And California's got some of the best view dining scenery to be had. Pictured is the Rooftop Lounge in Laguna Beach.
From the cliffs above the Big Sur coast at Nepenthe, to the Rooftop Lounge at Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach, California and its guests have the world on a string and they're sitting on a rainbow.
In Laguna Beach there are quite a few inspirational, ocean view dining options at hotels such as the luxurious Montage Resort or the more casual Rooftop Lounge at Casa del Camino Hotel, 1289 S. Coast Highway, (949) 497-2446 (casacamino.com). A long time favorite in Laguna Beach is Cliff Restaurant 577 South Coast Highway, (949) 494-1956 (thecliffrestaurant.com).
Cities such as San Francisco and San Diego can't be beat for their high-rise ocean and city view dining, some of the smaller cities have their own special views and vibes to make the experiences well worth a drive. Whether in the city or off the beaten path, breathtaking vistas are everywhere.
Top of the Mark on the 19th floor of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco offers magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay and city lights. Since 1939 the sky lounge has been a fixture in the city's "view" repetoire. The Top of the Mark offers breakfast and lunch, Mondays - Saturdays, Sunset Dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a special Brunch on Sundays. If you're a tea-totaller, enjoy the lovely afternoon proper pot of tea, fresh scones with Devonshire cream and jam, delicate tea sandwiches, and pastries. With panoramic views of the city and bay as the backdrop, tea at the legendary Top of the Mark sky lounge is enchanting. Monday to Saturday, 2:30 pm - 5 pm. Cost is around $36 per person. (intercontinentalmarkhopkins.com).
In San Diego, be sure to check out Top of the Hyatt Bar at Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego (the tallest building on the West Coast waterfront)! Voted San Diego's "Best" for best views and best upscale bar, the 40th floor, Top of the Hyatt Bar features panoramic views of Coronado Island, the San Diego bay, and world class sunsets. Hours: Open daily from 3pm to 1:30am (manchestergrand.hyatt.com).
In Long Beach, there are two stand-out view restaurants- Sir Winston's on the Queen Mary, and The Sky Room at The Breakers, (562) 983-2703 (theskyroom.com). Both offer elegant dining with gourmet meals and historic settings. Check out both venues (Queen Mary & The Sky Room) for afternoon and evening cocktails, as well.
Pier Dining includes a variety of restaurants on Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Wharf, Santa Monica Pier, numerous options on Redond Beach Pier, and of course, the famous Pier 39 in San Francisco.