Dreaming about your next girls’ getaway? I’ve found the ideal place for you and your friends: Laguna Beach, California, a charming community nestled between San Diego and Los Angeles along the southern coast of Orange County. The weather is close to perfect year-round, and there are 7 miles of beautiful coastline. There are many luxurious oceanfront hotels with pampering spas, incredible restaurants, charming art galleries, local retail stores and world-class shopping centers a short drive away.
If you’re an art lover, the area will especially appeal to you. There are more than 100 galleries for exploring, and 80 pieces of public art are on display. Laguna Beach has been an artists’ colony for more than a century, and summer is a wonderful time to visit when the town’s renowned festivals take place. During Festival of Arts, Sawdust Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters, visitors and locals participate in demonstrations and classes; enjoy recreations of famous works of art; and have the opportunity to purchase unique, locally made goods.
A great place to start getting acquainted with the area is Main Beach, the centerpiece of town and located along the famous Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a treasure trove for soaking in the beaming California sunshine, walking on the beach and enjoying people watching.
Less than 10 miles away from downtown Laguna is one of my favorite shopping areas, Fashion Island. It’s a pristine, open-air center with world-class shopping, exclusive boutiques and a wide range of cafés and restaurants. Fashion Island is home to the area’s only Neiman Marcus, as well as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s
If you’re looking for delicious California cuisine, Laguna Beach has its fair share. From quaint cafés to upscale beachfront dining, there is an abundance of outstanding restaurants in Laguna Beach, and most are independently owned. On my last visit, we discovered a new favorite, Nick’s. It’s centrally located in one of the liveliest blocks and offers indoor and outdoor dining, impeccable service, mouthwatering food and handcrafted cocktails. Menu offerings include specialty salads, pan-seared salmon and fried chicken that’s so good you’ll think you’re back in the South. Nick’s is open daily for lunch and dinner and serves breakfast on the weekends.
The perfect place to start or end any evening with your friends is at Las Brisas. The views are breathtaking here, and the specialty margaritas are some of the best you’ll ever enjoy. The bustling California landmark also serves lunch, dinner and brunch.
There are many options of where to stay when visiting, but my recommendation is Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, just a few miles from Laguna Beach. The four-story oceanfront property has all of the bells and whistles of the luxury hotel chain, but the view puts this property in a class by itself. The grand hotel has a beautiful, recently renovated lobby, 367 rooms, 29 suites, a pampering spa and two outdoor pools. The hotel is also home to five restaurants, including a poolside café; an outdoor lounge that overlooks the Pacific and specializes in small plates and unique cocktails; an upscale steakhouse; and a market that is open for breakfast, lunch and to-go items.
The spa at the Ritz-Carlton is the perfect spot to enjoy the day with your favorite friends. Treatments such as the Pacific Wave and Coastal Illuminating Facial are ocean-inspired and incorporate elements of the sea.
It’s easy to get to this idyllic seaside community, as there are several nearby airports. John Wayne Airport Orange County (SNA) is the closest, but other options include Long Beach Airport (LGB), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN).
For more information about Laguna Beach, California, visit VisitLagunaBeach.com.
WHERE TO STAY
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
1 Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point, California, 949.240.2000, RitzCarlton.com
WHERE TO PLAY
South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California
401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, California, 855.658.8527, ShopFashionIsland.com
WHERE TO EAT
Nick’s Laguna Beach
440 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California, 949.376.8595, NicksRestaurants.com
WHERE TO DRINK
361 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, California, 949.497.5434, LasBrisasLagunaBeach.com