The pandemic brought our plans for 2020 to a halt—including much-needed vacations. Whether you’re looking to have fun with your family, unwind with your beloved, explore the outdoors, or clear your mind with yoga or meditation, O.C. has many spots where you can play tourist right now. Read more from this cover story at orangecoast.com/ocstaycations.
A unique getaway awaits at The Holidays, where vintage charm meets outdoor relaxation. Book a solar-powered, 1960s vintage trailer just steps away from San Clemente State Beach ($189 and up). Normally set up around a communal fire pit for socializing, each trailer now has an individual fire pit as well as a personal bin full of boogie boards and outdoor games such as cornhole and bocce ball. On top of enjoying the surf and sand below, guests can bike, walk, or jog along the beach trail. The pier and neighboring surf spots are within walking distance. The colorful trailers sleep four adults and a small child and include a sink, fridge, stove top, USB charger, Bluetooth speaker, and a picnic table with a veranda cover. You can also rent a generator ($25) and set up a small tent near your trailer, as each site accommodates up to eight people.
The Inn at Laguna Beach
Take a short walk to Main Beach or Heisler Park or hike Top of the World in Laguna Canyon during your stay at The Inn at Laguna Beach ($170 and up). The inn sits on a cliff with views overlooking tide pools, and you can opt for an ocean-view room ($287 and up) so you never have to be too far from nature. Book the stand-up paddle package for two for $499 and you and your partner can take to the ocean together. Guests can enjoy a daily wine reception on the terrace from 5 to 6 p.m. where samples of various wines from around the world are served. Looking to have your meal outdoors? Sip on a cocktail or dine on the terrace while taking in the ocean views.
Crystal Cove Cottages
The historic structures sit right on the sand at Crystal Cove State Beach, offering unparalleled access to amazing hikes and one of the most beautiful beaches in Orange County. “I can see the ocean from my bed!” a toddler exclaimed upon her first time overnighting at Crystal Cove Cottages ($185 to $269). You’ll be able to listen to the waves crash all night, catch a peek of dolphins swimming by, and completely indulge in nature without distractions such as TVs, phones, or Wi-Fi. Capture a glimpse of what it might have been like to live on the property in the 1920s through 1940s and savor the quiet once darkness falls. It’s easy to forget that busy Coast Highway and O.C. modern life are just steps away. Being local gives you extra privilege when it comes to booking because you’ll be able to check with the office in person at 11 a.m. any day, especially midweek during the slow season, for last-minute openings. Otherwise, go online to make reservations six months in advance.
Things to Do
Balboa Bay Resort
Try one of the new cocktails from A&O Kitchen + Bar and sit outside on the expanded patio with fire pits. Stay overnight at the resort ($234 and up) to take advantage of activities such as kayaking, SUP, or cruising the bay on a rented Duffy boat from the private dock.
If you’ve lived here for a while but haven’t learned to surf, now’s the time. Surfriders Academy’s Marcus Barrera has offered lessons for more than 50 years. Lessons are $85 and up, available every day, and include a surfboard and wetsuit. You can add a GoPro video for $49.
Dive and Photo
Cross scuba diving off your bucket list with Dive and Photo’s open water course ($195). The private lessons follow a widely recognized course outlined by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and include pool training and certification.
Newport Beach Sailing School
Learn the basics of sailing in a private ($369), couples ($399), or family ($435 to $699) class at this school, part of the American Sailing Association.
Environmental Nature Center
Community programs and nature camps are available this fall at the center. The annual Fall Faire takes place Oct. 18, and this year’s virtual event will include video presentations from local chefs, a Birds of Prey presentation, and Fall Faire in a Box with seeds, a pumpkin, and other family crafts.
Hop on a floating tiki bar and cruise the bay with a cocktail in hand. Whether you book it for a birthday, bachelorette party, or just for fun ($325 and up), you and up to five others can bring your own food and drinks, or you can dock and dine at one of the many restaurants on the water.
San Clemente Beach Trail
Walk or bike along this oceanfront trail connecting North Beach and Calafia Beach, 2.3 miles each way. Stop at lookout points along the way. Leashed dogs are welcome.
Red Rock Canyon
This 4.2-mile out-and-back trail takes you through oak woodlands and culminates at a red sandstone canyon that was once under water. It’s a marvelous sight. To get there, park at Borrego Canyon Trailhead in Foothill Ranch and follow the signs to Red Rock Canyon Trail.
Carbon Canyon Regional Park
Park in the South Lot and take a stroller-friendly, mile-long walk to the largest grove of redwoods in Southern California. The 3-acre grove is cool and shady.
Oak Canyon Nature Center
Popular for weddings and engagements, this picturesque park is characterized by coast live oaks, which branch out to create a canopy. Take a stroll through wide, dirt paths well-suited for strollers and wheelchairs.
Newport Aquatic Center
This Back Bay boathouse offers hour-long lessons for up to three people for sports such as SUP, surf skiing, outrigger paddling, and kayaking ($40 to $60).
Take in the views at Treasure Island Park, just in front of the Montage resort, or stroll in the evening along the lit path. Or head to Water Tank Trail. Begin your hike at Irvine Bowl Park and follow the steep ridgeline for unobstructed views of the coastal town and the ocean beyond.
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens
Enjoy a farm-to-fork meal alfresco at Farmhouse, where you’ll be surrounded by greenery from Roger’s Gardens. You can shop the curbside market for fresh vegetables, snacks such as blood orange chips, or a make-your-own-pizza kit.
Son of Duffy Electric Boat Company founder Marshall “Duffy” Duffield
“People just want to get out these days. Almost every weekend, my wife and I and our two young kids are out in the Duffy. We’re very fortunate to have been able to go on it. … We’re currently running at half capacity (for rentals), and we’re planning how to move forward. We want to make sure everyone’s comfortable with it. We’ve got signs set up to explain the new procedures. Customers have to wear their masks until they get on the boat and then they can take them off. … A lot of restaurants in (Newport) harbor are doing ‘Duffy dine-in.’ You can pull up in the Duffy and order from the restaurant. We’ve got those marked on the maps, too. Passengers can go their own way and make their own cruise out of it.”
by Alan Gibbons, Astgik Khatchatryan, Michelle Pagaran, Chelsea Raineri,
and Barbara Neal Varma