Laguna Beach Has a Way of Rejuvenating All Types of Travelers — Here's Where to Go for Your Perfect Trip
For many, 2021 meant the return of a version of "normal." Trips were rebooked, weddings celebrated, and vaccines rolled out. But for some of us, after a year-plus of staying at home, travel (and the exertion that entails) quickly took its toll. Exhaustion replaced excitement; having a free weekend took priority to a night out with friends. Work burnout met socialization burnout — leaving some travelers in want of a hard reset.
If you're finding yourself weary and worn-thin after a summer on the go, it might be a good idea to take those vacation days and book a quick getaway. To find the ideal combination of rest, relaxation, and restorative activities, consider booking a trip to Laguna Beach. Synonymous with surfing, the best beaches in California, and yes, that show from the early 2000s, Laguna Beach is home to some of the most peaceful and accommodating hotels in Orange County.
From LAX: Unwind post-flight at Oceana Santa Monica before heading south.
Unfortunately, Laguna Beach isn't within driving distance for everyone. If you're catching a flight to the West Coast, Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport (SNA) are your two best options. While SNA is closer to the beach town, LAX often comes with cheaper airfare and a wider range of arrival options. Spending the night in Santa Monica, 12 miles from LAX, gives you the perfect excuse to take advantage of Oceana Santa Monica's unrivaled wellness menu for a day or two.
Renovated in late 2019, the Hilton property is the exact type of stay you'll want to experience after a long flight. Every square foot of this beach hotel caters to guests who want to leave feeling mentally and physically restored. You'll enter your spacious room — don't miss your personal swing right outside the door — via the open-air corridors, which surround the outdoor pool. Peloton bikes and treadmills can be found inside the gym (you'll need to pre-book a time slot), and you can enjoy a personalized spa treatment if you're looking to sooth away any tension from your travels. Wake up early the next morning and indulge in a private yoga class or run down to the Santa Monica Pier before continuing your journey to Laguna — just a 90-minute drive from the hotel.
If traveling solo, explore Casa Laguna Hotel & Spa.
Laguna Beach or Morocco? At Casa Laguna, it can be hard to tell. The Pacific Ocean may make an appearance beyond your balcony, but the shades of blues, reds, and pops of terracotta throughout the property nod to Moroccan influences and Spanish roots. Regardless, one thing is very clear the moment you enter the boutique hotel's gates: This is somewhere you can escape. The foliage, tiled passageways, and tucked-away seating areas create a serene atmosphere throughout the hotel; it's the kind of place where you'll immediately feel the need to put your luggage in your room, grab your book, a glass of sangria (complimentary upon arrival), and a bathing suit. There's no pull to make any other plans for the rest of your stay — unless you want to book a treatment at the indoor-outdoor spa, of course.
To stay active, book The Ranch at Laguna Beach.
If hiking or a round of golf is your ideal way to relax, The Ranch at Laguna Beach, recently named one of the top resorts in California, will be your paradise. You'll trade beachfront views for sunsets behind the California canyons, but the off-the-beaten-path location is ideal for the active lifestyle you'll find at the resort. Golf is the main draw, with a nine-hole course chiseled into the Aliso and Wood Canyons, but The Ranch's shuttle brings guests down to the beach if they want to surf, kayak, or swim. Of course, there's no better place to stay in Laguna for hikers and trail runners; you don't even have to get in a car to climb the canyons.
If you prefer slower-paced mornings, make a coffee in your room to watch the morning roll in, then meander to the top of Valido Trail, which sits directly next to the property. Post-canyon climbing rewards include melt-in-your-mouth beignets from the notable Lost Pier Cafe, only a short walk down to the beach, and a massage at The Ranch's Sycamore Spa.
For the full luxury treatment, reserve The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
You can always rely on a Ritz-Carlton property to come ready with all the amenities and views required for travelers to feel pampered and completely relaxed. The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, which sits above the Pacific Ocean, not only meets but exceeds the level of paradise you'd expect from a beachfront property. The hotel itself is expansive — so you never feel too surrounded by other guests — and there's a breathtaking vista no matter where you go. Whether you choose to spend time in the gym, lounge by one of the resort's two pools, take the shuttle down the hill to Salt Creek Beach, or simply rest in one of the Adirondack chairs, you'll get to take in some of the best ocean-front scenery in Orange County. Pro tip: Book a meal at Raya, chef Richard Sandoval's on-site restaurant, or 180blũ early; tables get snatched up quickly, thanks to the tempting menus and equally impressive ocean views.