Dana Point, California
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Pride of the Pacific
What it is
A 396-room beachside icon on a 150-foot-tall bluff, with gushing five-star reviews.
What it isn't
Unpopular. With 80,000-square-feet of event space and three oceanfront wedding sites, don’t expect solace in common areas. This place is beloved and it shows.
What we think
Hollywood can keep its stars, because the one that truly matters is this blockbuster-worthy gem 60 miles south. The reasons industry insiders flock here, again and again, are too numerous to mention, but here are a few: neutral-swathed guest rooms that look like a Nancy Meyers film set, a spa that could restore the most haggard starlet with treatments like the marine collagen-laden Coastal Illuminating Facial, and access to a few of California’s best oceanside golf courses (including Monarch Beach Golf Links, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.). That the hotel is so incredibly pet friendly that they host a Yappy Hour where dogs can imbibe bacon-flavored water while you sip a cocktail called Merlot Over and Play Dead is just a bonus.
You're here because
You pride yourself on your luxe-meets-granola lifestyle, and the hotel has its own Eco-Adventure Center with naturalist-led excursions.
You never expected to know how to Hang Ten. But after your two hour expert-led surf experience, you’re shredding the gnar with the best of them (a.k.a. At the very least, you know how to wax your board and hit the waves a la Endless Summer).
Restaurants & Bars
Raya - Pan-Latin Coastal Cuisine
enoSTEAK - Steakhouse
The Market Place - Cafe Style, Quick Bites
The Dana Pool Cafe - Casual
Any Amusement Park (Disneyland, LEGOLAND, Universal Studios, etc.)
San Diego Zoo
A prime Pacific Ocean-side perch 60 minutes drive from LAX, and sandy steps from Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area where sea urchins and spiny lobster flourish.