I’ve always believed that I was geographically misplaced, and that I was really meant for a life on the West Coast. I first visited California as a thirteen year old on a trip to Los Angeles with my family, and when I walked down the red carpet at The Beverly Hills Hotel on that vacation, I had never felt more glamorous. I have wonderful memories of that trip – from celebrity spotting over breakfast at The Farm, to enjoying what I still maintain was the world’s best burger at the Polo Lounge, to shopping on Rodeo Drive. I have equally vivid recollections of driving down the Pacific Coastal Highway from San Francisco to Santa Cruz with my mom and sister on a different trip, the summer before I entered high school. Andrew and I ventured out to San Francsico and the Napa Valley in 2013, and I can remember thinking that there could be no more beautiful place on earth than California wine country. But it was actually on a business trip last summer that I truly fell in love with the Golden State. I was in Irvine, CA for a client’s business planning presentations, and my supervisor and I decided to drive to Laguna Beach for dinner. We walked on the beach, admired the surfers, and ate dinner and watched the sunset at a total tourist trap overlooking the ocean. I loved everything about Laguna – the rocky terrain, the breezy summer weather, the authentic, artsy feel of the downtown. I gushed about Laguna Beach to Andrew, pleading with him to take me back. When he planned a business trip to LA and asked me if I wanted to tag along, I saw my chance and quickly booked a long weekend in Laguna. We got back from our trip early yesterday morning, and I’m already missing the sunny, mid-70 degree days (with no humidity!), followed by chillier evenings. I miss our peaceful morning walks along Treasure Island Beach, the pink skies just before sunset, and the sweeping views from our hotel, the Montage, perched on a coastal bluff high above the Pacific Ocean. I hardly experienced everything that this Southern California coastal town has to offer in just a few days, but today I thought I’d share my guide to a perfect weekend in Laguna Beach.
Where We Stayed:
If you regularly keep up with the blog, you know that my parents primarily reside in Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina, which is the site of the Montage Palmetto Bluff (I also got married there). Being familiar with the luxurious amenities of Montage resorts, staying at the Montage Laguna Beach was a no-brainer for us. The Montage is situated about two miles south of the main downtown area of Laguna Beach. The open air lobby looks out onto the Pacific Ocean – in fact, each of the hotel’s 250 rooms offers an ocean view. The resort is home to three restaurants: Mosaic Bar and Grill for outdoor, poolside dining; The Loft, an all-day dining restaurant situated on the fourth floor of the hotel that offers panoramic ocean views and American cuisine; and Studio, the hotel’s most upscale dining option, featuring French/American/California cuisine at the edge of the bluff overlooking the Pacific. Montage Laguna Beach is also home to a luxurious spa and fitness center as well as an infinity pool. During our stay, we enjoyed a yummy lunch of ahi tuna salad and a turkey burger at Mosaic, had breakfast overlooking the ocean at The Loft, and clocked quite a few hours poolside. We also took advantage of the fitness center, which boasts open-air treadmills that allow you to be distracted by Pacific views while you run, and participated in a fun but incredibly challenging Surfset Fitness class.
Where We Ate:
In addition to enjoying our resort’s dining amenities, we made a few trips into downtown Laguna Beach to sample the local fare. Here’s a list of where we dined:
- Active Culture: After a morning walk on the beach and a Surfset Fitness class, we were craving some healthier breakfast fare and ended up at this healthy, organic spot. We split a ‘Wholesome Bowl,” consisting of Organic brown rice, organic black and red beans, cheddar cheese, cabbage, salsa, avocado, cilantro, and “OG sauce.” The meal was simple and fresh.
- Banzai Bowls: Once we had strolled through town a bit, we grabbed an acai bowl to go from Banzai Bowls and brought it down to the beach to watch the surfers for a bit. We split a ‘Da Kine’ bowl, made up of high quality ingredients like chocolate hemp milk, almond butter, toasted granola, and slivered almonds, topped with bananas and strawberries.
- Driftwood Kitchen: This waterfront restaurant in Laguna Beach will allow you to watch the sunset while you dine on local seafood. That said, the atmosphere is a lot better than the food. We split a few appetizers, our favorite of which was the grilled octopus.
- Nick’s Laguna Beach: We left Driftwood Kitchen hungry, so we decided to wait for a table at popular local spot Nick’s. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared for long wait times. We opted for staking out the bar, and were seated within 20 minutes. We chose to sample two of the restaurants more popular dishes: asparagus fries and the prime rib dip. The battered asparagus spears were served with an addictive buttermilk dipping sauce, and the french dip was insanely delicious. If you’re craving classic American comfort fare, this is definitely not a spot to miss.
- Mozambique: We were on a quest for food that we can’t typically find in Florida, so we dined at the eclectic, South African-inspired Mozambique on our last night in Laguna. We ordered the appetizer sampler, consisting of grilled prawns, chicken skewers, samosas, and farmer’s sausage, served with a delicious peri-peri sauce; followed by the peri-peri chicken and a vegetable curry. All were delicious, and we would definitely go back on a future trip.
Where We Shopped:
We didn’t do too much shopping this trip (I’m trying to cut back), but we did stop into a few stores and boutiques. Here are some of my favorites:
- Laguna Surf and Sport: We both picked up souvenirs at this quintessential Laguna Beach surf retailer, established in 1982. I scored a simple tank top boasting the store’s logo, and Andrew grabbed a Roark Revival tee reading “Support Your Local Savages.”
- The shop.: It took all of my self control not to purchase literally everything in this women’s boutique. As it states on the website, this boutique offers “some home, some fashion and a little bit of Salty-ness. Capturing that feeling of summer all year round. Sand. Salt. Sun kissed. Style.”
- Steve Adam Gallery: Laguna Beach is also home to a thriving arts scene, boasting numerous galleries and home to many local artists. We stumbled into local artist Steve Adam’s gallery, and fell in love with his simple, abstract, coastal canvases, as well as customized surf boards and skate boards. We will definitely be making a few purchases before we move into our next home.
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