I live in Marin County, California, so there’s really no reason for me to “vacation” here. There’s only one place exceptional enough to tempt me, and that’s the new Cavallo Point Lodge, which repurposes the elegant officers’ quarters of 19th century Fort Baker. Positioned to take full advantage of the most dramatic San Francisco views, Fort Baker spans a harborside stretch between Sausalito and the Golden Gate Recreation Area, right under the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was built here for a reason — so gigantic guns could protect San Francisco from invasion from the Pacific. But the invasion never happened (Pearl Harbor was bombed instead) and today Fort Baker has the sleepy charm of an abandoned coastal village.

When I was a kid, I used to ride bikes there with my dad, although because it was an active military installation, most of it was off limits. Now, with the restoration of some of the most beautiful historic buildings into Cavallo Point, these bayside views are accessible to anyone with a free day, weekend, or week, and a taste for Marin’s characteristic outdoors-oriented, laid-back style.

The restaurant, Murray Circle, is already winning raves for global fusion dishes inspired by farmer’s market-fresh local meat, cheese, and produce. But for me, the highlight is the wellness center spa where you can spend a day soaking, swimming, steaming, and letting your cares evaporate under the hands of a highly trained masseuse. For reservations, click here or call (888) 651-2003.