Our family recently took our first road trip together since becoming a family of 4 — just in time before we add yet another baby to the mix. We chose Laguna Beach because of its proximity to Los Angeles and because it is so family-friendly and has lots of things we wanted to do. It turned out to be the perfect choice and we had the most amazing time. Charlie even decided he wanted to stay an extra day instead of going to Disneyland — changing his favorite place on earth from Disneyland to Laguna Beach. That’s high praise from a 5 year old!
We stayed at The Ranch at Laguna Beach and from the moment we checked in, I knew it was going to be a good trip. Charlie couldn’t wait to jump in the pool, The Ranch was super accommodating of our having a baby — making sure we had a travel crib, high chair, and baby gate in our cottage. It was the first place I have been since having kids where it felt like it was going to be easy to be on vacation. They even made sure I had whole milk for Calvin’s bottles in our mini-fridge in the kitchen.
One of my favorite things that we did was spend an afternoon and evening at Aliso Creek Beach. I’ve always wanted to have a camp fire at the beach and hadn’t done it in the 11 years I’ve lived in Los Angeles. The Ranch helped us out tremendously by reserving a fire pit for us, and they even set up a tent, towels, and other beach essentials plus packed us a picnic of their delicious sandwiches and salads for dinner along with all the ingredients for s’mores for dessert. We made memories and had an experience I don’t think any of us will ever forget — except for maybe Calvin since he’s only 1…
Aside from going to the beach a couple of times, we mostly stayed on property at The Ranch and ate almost all of our meals there. Between the pool, our very comfortable cottage, and the dining there wasn’t much need to leave unless we wanted to, which made everything much more relaxed.
The view from The Harvest Patio where we had breakfast each day was unbeatable. The boys loved watching the golfers tee off and the hummingbirds fly by. The food was amazing and I’m still dreaming of their sour cream pancakes…
We wanted to take Charlie to see some of Laguna’s tide pools, but El Nino made the tide uncooperative and much higher than normal. So while I took Calvin for a walk in the stroller in Heisler Park so he could sneak in a nap, my husband and Charlie explored the beach and jumped the waves below while I watched from above.
One of the things about Laguna that we were so impressed with is how clean it is. The experience of going to the beach there is so much different than going to the beach anywhere in Los Angeles, where we once had to rush Charlie out of the ocean because there was a “jellyfish” way too close to him, and it wasn’t really a jellyfish but something much more disgusting (I’ll let you figure it out…) Laguna was literally a breath of fresh air.
We were able to meet up with family who were also in town on our second night. Rather than going out to dinner, we ordered pizza in and The Ranch set up a “movie night” for the kids — they provided a selection of movies, sleeping bags, and popcorn. The kids had a blast watching ‘Home’ while the grown-ups caught up and ate pizza. It was so much better than going out for dinner with kids!
Three days at the beach, three days in an air conditioned cottage, three days of sour cream pancakes… Our road trip to Laguna Beach was just what we all needed. I can’t recommend restaurants in Laguna or activities other than the beach, but I can tell you that our stay at The Ranch and our time at the beach was one for the record books. I can’t recommend either of those highly enough.
Do you have a favorite road trip memory with your family or a favorite place to visit as a family?
Compensation for this post was provided by The Ranch at Laguna Beach, but all the opinions are my own. The Ranch at Laguna Beach is currently in a preview phase while they complete renovations. Preview rooms and rates are available now through their final opening in early 2016.