Barnsley Gardens: a lush retreat just an hour from Atlanta

AS I PONDERED THE VIEW from the balcony of the hotel room, which looked out on the Pacific toward Catalina Island, I caught sight of a lone gray whale leaping up out of the water. That moment, combined with the sheer beauty and luxury surrounding me at the exquisite Terranea Resort, was among the highlights of a recent trip to Los Angeles.

Terranea ( sits on an idyllic 102-acre plot surrounded on three sides by ocean, and offers the ultimate in not just accommodations, but also dining, service, and amenities, including, most notably in my opinion, its Aqua-Terra Adventures program, which offers everything from surfing lessons and tide pooling excursions to oil paintin