Travel

These Hotels Prove OC Should Be Your Weekend Getaway Destination

Published On 08/22/2016 Published On 08/22/2016
Monarch Beach Resort
AVEO Table + Bar | Courtesy of Monarch Beach Resort

Since it’s not getting cold anytime soon, we've got all the time in the world to enjoy our obnoxiously great weather, and since OC’s right next door to LA, here are a bunch of Orange County hotels that are worth spending a beautiful, long staycation weekend at.

Paséa Hotel & Spa

Huntington Beach
Nearly all of the 250 rooms at this brand-new hotel a stone's throw from the pier have ocean views. They come equipped with Fresh bath products, custom Frette linens, and, perhaps coolest of all, hooded sweatshirt robes. The place has a spa, restaurant, roof-deck bar, two infinity pools, cabanas, and free bike rentals, and also offers a "beach butler" and surfboard storage.

What to do: Check out Pacific City, Huntington's stylish new shopping/dining/socializing destination that has a solid lineup of summer events including live music on Saturday and Sunday and weekly movie nights (Cool Runnings was a recent impressive pick).
Where to eat and drink: Ways & Means Oyster House serves up a mean raw bar with oysters hailing from Baja to British Columbia along with over-the-top seafood platters and small plates like fish tacos and ahi poke. For cocktails, hit up the new outpost of The Bungalow, modeled after the original hot spot at the Fairmont in Santa Monica.

Courtesy of Monarch Beach Resort

Monarch Beach Resort

Dana Point
Sadly, there's still a chance you're moving to Canada next year, so go ahead and get a final SoCal summer splurge in at this luxury resort that recently completed a $40 million renovation. There's an expanded new pool area (including one pool that's gloriously adults-only) with private cabanas, a bunch of new restaurants, and Monarch just opened the swanky Miraval Spa, an offshoot of the Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson.

What to do: Get your money's worth and just take advantage of the resort. Veg out by the pool, head down to the beach where the Monarch will hook you up with complimentary umbrella, towel, and lounge chair service, or try out a spa service -- the Sea Salt Serenity treatment (which starts with a salt scrub and ends with a crystal stone massage) is not going to suck.
Where to eat and drink: Keep the fancy-pants stuff going at Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern, right on the property, where you can get an impressive five-course tasting menu. Follow it up with an after-dinner craft cocktail at the clubby new 33°N lobby bar, which has live music many evenings and a DJ spinning later on weekend nights.

Nomads Hotel

San Clemente
This seven-room boutique hotel was pretty much created with surfers in mind. Staffers will actually show you where all the best surf spots are, and you can book different surf packages with your room that can include board and wetsuit rentals, guided sessions, lessons, and training camps depending on your level. Rooms are funky and colorful with tropical accents and pretty reasonably priced.  

What to do: Um, surf of course. But if you'd prefer to stay on dry land you can live vicariously through the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center.
Where to eat and drink: This trip's all about keeping it low-key, so skip the small-plates places and head for the local outpost of Pizza Port, known for its pie, wings, and own craft beer label. Afterwards, head back to the hotel and make the short journey upstairs to Canteen, which has nearly three dozen beers on tap, is decked out with vintage surfboards, and is always playing (what else?) surf flicks on a loop.

Courtesy of Surf & Sand Resort

Surf & Sand Resort

Laguna Beach
The oceanfront resort is smack in the middle of bustling Laguna Beach, which means you can wander around town and easily pop back to the hotel for some chilling on a chaise lounge by the beachfront pool. Rooms have a luxe contemporary feel and, depending on what you want to spend, some have ocean views, balconies, and fireplaces.

What to do: Laguna Beach is so over-the-top picture perfect you feel like you might mess something up just walking through it. But get over it and mosey through Downtown, checking out the requisite surf shops, candy stores, galleries, and Saturday farmers market, before winding up along the beach. And if you need an extra dose of art, you can visit the Sawdust Art Festival, which runs through the end of August.
Where to eat and drink: The craftsman-style cottage and sprawling patio is home to the cool and casual Sapphire, which serves global-inspired dishes like Malaysian black pepper prawns and Kalua pulled pork quesadillas. They also offer picnic-y stuff to go next door at Sapphire Pantry. A half-mile away, the Wine Gallery has a solid selection of good vino as well as a handful of craft beers, a menu of small plates and pizzas, and live music a couple nights week.

Crystal Cove Beach Cottages

Newport Beach
Getting one of these refurbished beachfront cottages takes some planning ahead to say the least -- you have to log on the reservation site on the first of the month to book during whatever month is seven months ahead. Got it? Here's the thing: the place does sometimes get cancellations, which means you could get lucky and snag one as walk-in after 11am any day of the year. (We do however, suggest a backup plan.) And trust us, it's worth the all the hoopla to actually get to live on the beach for a couple sweet days.

What to do: Walk down Crystal Cove Beach -- which is kind of your temporary front yard, by the way -- a mile or so to Crystal Cove State Park with stunning cliffs and all-around this-is-why-we-live-in-California scenery.
Where to eat and drink: It's possible you just spent seven months waiting to get into one of these cottages, so stick around for the killer sunset. Pick up takeout (tacos from Javier's, pizza from Settebello or poke from Bear Flag Fish Company) at the nearby Crystal Cove Shopping Center (which also has a Trader Joe's for six-pack grabbing) and take advantage of the fact you can actually enjoy dinner on an oceanfront deck you don't have to share with 80 other diners.

Courtesy of Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel

Avenue of the Arts

Costa Mesa
If you're looking to make a pilgrimage to South Coast Plaza and check out Costa Mesa's growing dining scene, you'll want to make this sleek and modern boutique hotel your home base. With wood floors and cool art, rooms are funkier and more stylish than the typical nearby chains, and there's also the requisite pool and fitness center.

What to do: Duh, shop. Considering there are a ridiculous 250 stores here (with a few new recent adds like a Louis Vuitton men's store and BMW popup gallery), you will run out of time well before you run out of retailers.
Where to eat and drink: Taco Maria has been getting showered with accolades since opening a few years back thanks to its inventive plates like dry-aged ribeye with garlic ramps; ancho-almond mole chicken; and smoked sturgeon tacos. At the gastropubby Social, cocktails have the requisite small-batch liquors, fresh fruits, and muddled stuff, and the burger there is next-next level.

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Lizbeth Scordo is a freelance writer who covers food and lifestyle and is still waiting to take a staycation. Follow her on Twitter @lalizbeth and on Instagram @modlizbeth.

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