Sea Ranch, Sonoma County

From birth in 1965, Sea Ranch, 110 miles north of San Francisco near Gualala, has been a utopian experiment: top-drawer architects building low-key homes -- and a 20-room lodge -- in harmony with a  stretch of rugged Northern California coast. Fences, lawns and ostentation are basically banned (although the chapel, pictured, is pretty wild), allowing the landscape to prevail. Hike, bike, ride a horse, play the resort's links-style golf course or kayak. <br /><br />
Info: Rooms at the 20-unit Sea Ranch Lodge run $169 to $395 nightly ([800] 732-7262, visit  <a href="http://www.searanchlodge.com" target="_blank">online</a>. Six agencies handle rental houses, at rates of about $170 to $715 nightly (taxes and cleaning fees included, two-night minimum): <a href="http://www.ramshead.com/1pref.htm" target="_blank">Rams Head Realty & Rentals</a>, (800) 785-3455; <a href="http://www.coastinghome.com/" target="_blank">Coasting Home</a>, (800) 773-8648; <a href="http://www.oceanviewprop.com/home.php"target="_blank">Ocean View Properties</a>, (707) 884-3538; <a href="http://www.searanchescape.com/"target="_blank">Sea Ranch Escape Vacation Home Rentals</a>, (888) 732-7262. <br /><br />
 --  Christopher Reynolds
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( Chris Reynolds / Los Angeles Times )

From birth in 1965, Sea Ranch, 110 miles north of San Francisco near Gualala, has been a utopian experiment: top-drawer architects building low-key homes -- and a 20-room lodge -- in harmony with a stretch of rugged Northern California coast. Fences, lawns and ostentation are basically banned (although the chapel, pictured, is pretty wild), allowing the landscape to prevail. Hike, bike, ride a horse, play the resort's links-style golf course or kayak.

Info: Rooms at the 20-unit Sea Ranch Lodge run $169 to $395 nightly ([800] 732-7262, visit online. Six agencies handle rental houses, at rates of about $170 to $715 nightly (taxes and cleaning fees included, two-night minimum): Rams Head Realty & Rentals, (800) 785-3455; Coasting Home, (800) 773-8648; Ocean View Properties, (707) 884-3538; Sea Ranch Escape Vacation Home Rentals, (888) 732-7262.

-- Christopher Reynolds

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