Beyond the beach: Vacation homes under $5M

California has a lot going for it in the second home market—from scenic mountain backdrops and sandy beaches to secluded desert escapes and relaxing vineyard views. Certain homes attract those looking for an escape from the city and into nature, and there’s so much opportunity beyond the beach house. The sporty among us may prefer Big Bear or Tahoe, while others seek solace in the striking landscape of the California desert—a little known haven for Modern architecture, in case lounging beside a kidney-shaped pool is your thing. If you’re in search of the good life in the Golden State, these 7 listings are solid inspo, or maybe even a golden opportunity.

39318 Cedar Dell Road, Fawnskin, CA

A fram cabin house in wooded area.

Here’s a budget-friendly beauty: A meticulously updated A-frame surrounded by miles of forest trails, moments from Big Bear Lake. The interiors have been renovated to preserve the original Scandinavian, Mid-Century character, with colorful and artful touches. Snow on Christmas in SoCal? Check. Plus an antidote to city ennui all year-round. Listed at $550,000 by Gary Doss.

Interior of A frame with wooded beams and woodstove.
39318 Cedar Dell Road, Fawnskin, CA

5767 Trailwood Drive, Santa Rosa, CA

Modern wood siding home with view of valley

Heading North to California’s Wine Country, this award-winning Contemporary on 4.28 private acres in the heart of Sonoma is just stunning. Constructed in 2002, the home was a recipient of the American Institute of Architecture’s 2003 Residential Architecture Merit Award. Currently used as a vacation rental, imagine hosting gatherings and reunions overlooking the picturesque Valley of the Moon. Relaxing, modern interiors will have you feeling blissed out in no time. Listed at $2,400,000 by Steven Cozza.

High ceiling large window master suite with white bedding
5767 Trailwood Drive, Santa Rosa

445 Monte Vista Drive, Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs poolside view at dusk

Iconic architecture, a vibrant palette, a killer backyard—The Gala House is everything you want in a Palm Springs crash pad. The sprawling single-level estate is located in the Historic Tennis Club enclave and showcases a down-to-the-studs remodel that retains its original architectural flair and complements it with state-of-the-art finishes, fixtures and systems. Listed at $4,365,000 by Ryan Bragg.

Orange gateway to estate.

74111 Setting Sun Trail, Palm Desert, CA

Aerial view of desert Oasis

A Mid-Century ranch house set against a jaw-dropping backdrop of mountains, palms, and saguaros—and it’s under $1 million? Dreams do come true. This three bedroom, two bath house features a spacious open floor plan and a resort-ready backyard and pool, so you can bring some friends along for a weekend jaunt or make these vacay-vibes your year-round reality. Listed at $895,000 by Dane Kealoha.

21964 Gilette Drive, Los Gatos, CA

Super modern yet somehow rustic home in Forest Setting

If you’re looking to leave the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley, try this tranquil architectural home nestled in the Los Gatos Mountains on for size. Tucked at the end of a cul-de-sac amid redwoods, the 6 bed, 4 bath abode also includes an apartment with a separate entrance, ideal for multiple generations or a rental unit. Listed at $2,595,000 by the Nevis and Ardizzone Team.

1330 Firview Drive, Calistoga, CA

Green roof home in the Redwoods

Envisioned by landscape architect Jonathan Plant, this Napa Valley property consists of a main house, a guest house, and a workshop on more than two acres of lush gardens. The gated compound is replete with upgrades, including an electric car charger and a wine cellar, plus views of nearby vineyards. Listed at $1,695,000 by Mary Ann Souza.

46 Laurel Avenue, Woodacre, CA

Sideview of mountain home.

Rounding out our list of inspiring city escapes, we head to Woodacre, an unincorporated town located in the eastern half of the San Geronimo Valley in Marin County. Surrounded by mature and well cared for landscaping, this property feels like a peaceful sanctuary. The recently remodeled interiors and multiple decks enhance this elegant property with indoor-outdoor appeal. Listed at $1,395,000 by Faber Real Estate Team.

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