If you’ve been following us for awhile, you know by now that we’re big fans of weekend trips. They’re easy to plan, easy to prepare for, and they do wonders to what would otherwise be a monotonous week. Because we both have full time jobs, we LIVE for spontaneous (or planned) weekend getaways!! This past weekend we adventured to Dana Point, a quaint Southern California beach town (just south of Laguna Beach), and it was the PERFECT weekend destination! The stunning resorts (if you’re short on time – scroll to bottom for quick rundown on the resorts), delicious restaurants, beautiful views and crystal clear ocean… Dana Point is a dream. Here’s what we did:
First stop on our weekend trip was lunch at Coastal Kitchen. Located on the Pacific Coast Highway, we HIGHLY recommend stopping here - even for a drink! The ambiance is amazing, the servers are so kind, and the french fries are some of the BEST we’ve ever had. No kidding, we take french fries very seriously. Make a stop at Coastal Kitchen, if only for the french fries.
We had some time to kill after lunch, so we headed to one of our favorite hidden gems of Dana Point. Across the street from Doheny State Beach is the Doubletree Suites Doheny Beach. They have an amazing bar on their rooftop with KILLER ocean views. Best part is? It was just us and a few locals up there! This truly is one of the best kept secret spots in Dana Point… so don’t tell too many people. ;)
Next item on our agenda: check into our hotel! We stayed at the Monarch Beach Resort, a property that honestly blew us away. It sits atop a hill overlooking the Pacific, and it has it all: stellar service, amazing restaurants, and championship caliber golf. Our room was beautiful, with stunning views of the property and the pool. AND THAT POOL!! Absolutely dreamy. We took a quick power nap (the big comfy bed was calling our names!) and then headed out to explore.
Speaking of which: One thing that we LOVED about the Monarch Beach Resort is all of the transportation options. There’s a complimentary driver for guests, that will drop you off anywhere in an 8 mile radius! There’s also the Dana Point Trolley that stops at the resort every ten minutes, and makes a giant loop around the town. AND the Monarch Beach Resort has their own little trolley that will take you to the beach! But more on that later...
First stop of the night was at The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, located right on the water. We arrived right as the sun was setting, and the views were glorious. We sipped our cocktails, made some friends at the bar, and watched the sunset. Could this night get any better?!
The answer is yes. Definitely, yes. While it was hard to leave the gorgeous views at the Ritz, we were getting hungry, and we’d made dinner reservations at a new restaurant in town called the Craft House. We sat outside, ate a delicious dinner, and tried some of their famous whiskey cocktails. Needless by the time we got back to our room we were exhausted - and that big hotel bed couldn’t have felt better!
Saturday morning, we slept in (obviously!) and then decided to take the complimentary car to the Dana Point Harbor. It’s one of our favorite spots in Dana Point - there’s several restaurants, shops and bars, and a really scenic walking path along the water. We walked for awhile and then grabbed a bagel and some juice at the local’s favorite, Coffee Importers. If you go, make sure you get the California Bagel: cream cheese, avocado, tomato, red onions, and lemon pepper. The BEST!
We meandered our way to yet another stunning resort, The Laguna Cliffs Marriott, located directly above the harbor. Another one of our favorite “secret” spots in Dana Point is the coffee shop inside the hotel. There's the perfect deck just outside to sit and drink your coffee and look out at the ocean. Plus, on Saturdays they offer free yoga classes on their front lawn, so we watched over a hundred people do yoga as we drank our coffee! Drinks and a show!! ;)
We took the trolley back to the Monarch Beach Resort (can we take trolleys everywhere from now on?!), and we headed straight to the pool! We had the most relaxing couple of hours reading, swimming, and napping in the sun. And then we decided to head to the beach.
Like we said earlier, the Monarch Beach Resort has their own little trolley that takes guests to their private beach resort.
Later in the afternoon, Alli treated herself to a trip to the Drybar - located in the Monarch Beach Resort’s lobby. If you haven't been to a Drybar, whether you're a girl or a guy, you've got to try it. $45 for them to wash your hair, massage it, and style it. YES PLEASE! It's really the best thing ever.
After Alli's hair was perfected (Thanks Caitlin!!), we headed to the Stonehill Tavern, the famous Micheal Mina restaurant, also located inside Monarch Beach Resort ( We're telling you - one stop shop)! This ended up being hands down one of our favorite "date nights" so far. From the sexy ambiance, to the amazing service, to the mouthwatering food... everything was perfect.
A few highlights for when you go:
1. The bread and butter. Serious - the homemade sourdough with the honey, ricotta, thyme, and sea salt spread was one of our favorite things we ate. And it's free - so ask for seconds. And thirds.
2. They have an amazing sommelier that will help you choose your wine - tell him what you like, and let him surprise you. He's really that good!
2. The truffle mac and cheese. Nothing else needs to be said - just get it. And eat it. And love it.
3. The root beer float and chocolate chip cookies dessert. Two of our favorite things together, it really doesn't get any better.
This was the perfect morning to sleep in - not only because we were in the most HEAVENLY bed, but because the British Open was on, making it a great excuse for breakfast in bed! ;) We ate breakfast, watched Jordan Spieth rock the British Open, and packed our bags. Taking our time and leisurely leaving an amazing resort is our best way to say goodbye - we leave feeling like we truly maximized our stay.
We left Monarch Beach Resort (boo hoo) and headed to the Craft House (again!!) for brunch. Yep, we like it that much that we had to go again! We met some friends and enjoyed bottomless mimosas, avocado toasts, and really delicious breakfast sandwiches. Nothing like two breakfasts in one day!! ;)
Our last (and final) Dana Point outing was stopping by the "Concerts in the Park". Happening every Sunday afternoon through Labor Day, the city hosts an INCREDIBLE (and FREE!) outdoor concert series featuring the most amazing cover bands. We were lucky to hear an Abba tribute band, and boy did they rock. Perfect way to close out the most memorable weekend getaway we've had in awhile!!
Four Can’t Miss Resorts in Dana Point – QUICK SNAPSHOT
Strengths: Affordable, Clean and classic beach-y theme, Ocean views
Why Here? The Double Tree offers amazing views of the famed Doheny State Beach from rooms, rooftop bars, and secret patios. It is the most affordable of the four resorts, so if your on a vacation with the whole family this is a fantastic option. The Double Tree offers easy access to the Dana Point Harbor, and is walking distance (5 minutes) from Doheny, which is a great beach for surfing (lessons available), tanning, volleyball, biking, and chasing sunsets. Our favorite spot is the Longboard Rooftop Lounge! Bring the family and prepare for some long beach days full of sand castles, surfing, weenie roasts, and s’mores! The Double Tree won’t even be mad if you come back a little sandy…
Strengths: Dana Point harbor location, Hilltop views, Relaxed luxury
Why Here? The Laguna Cliffs Marriott is perched atop a hill looking over the picturesque Dana Point Harbor. The property is surrounded by pathways that meander their way to Doheny State Beach, the Harbor, and to the shops along PCH above. This is a prime location if you plan on nestling in the harbor or have any maritime activities planned. From the Marriott, your only steps away from eating a scrumptious brunch at RJ’s, learning to hang-ten at Doheny, educating yourself on local sea life at the marine institute, or indulging in a famous (and strong) mai-tai at Wind & Sea.
Strengths: Grandiose five-star luxury resort vibes, Incredible restaurant options, Pool-side AND Beach-side service
Why Here? We may be a bit biased (because we stayed here), but the Monarch Beach Resort may be our favorite when it comes to resorts in Dana Point. It has it ALL. It is a large (but not overwhelming) property on a beautiful golf course overlooking the Pacific, and it boasts five-star service, rooms, and restaurants. One of our favorite aspects is that you can spend your day tanning by the pool and when you get tired of the pool-scene you can hop on their private trolley to head down to their beach club. So it’s your choice… margaritas by the pool, or by the crashing waves? After the day in the sun, indulge in AVEO Table + Bar for Mediterranean food, or Stonehill Tavern for elegant tavern fare. You won't regret either, we promise. From the moment the valet attendant opens your door, the Monarch Beach Resort takes you to the blissful vacation mode that everybody hopes for.
Strengths: Unrivaled ocean and coastline views, Impeccable five-star service, Timeless décor, Best overall beach access
Why Here? The grand-daddy of them all, the Ritz has a history of luxury, flawless experiences, and knowing how to spoil their guests. Honeymooners, splurgers, and those in need of a pampering… the Ritz may be for you. You can be confident that if you book a room at the Ritz, you will have an unforgettable experience and likely will return home with tan skin and a full belly. Indulge in their amazing Raya, spend the day at Salt Creek beach, and watch the sunset from the best viewpoint in all of DP, 180blũ. This oceanfront lounge sits on the edge of the cliff where you can watch the surfers, as well as catch the last moments of color and light as the sun tucks below the pacific curtain. “Ritz Carlton” is synonymous with luxury, and the Ritz Laguna Niguel will likely exceed whatever you envision prior to your stay.
Thank you to Visit Dana Point for sponsoring this post!