LA – If you’re feeling like you could use a little R&R, we’ve got a perfect 48 hour seaside escape that’s not only loaded with activities, it’s priced just right and only about an hour south of downtown LA (traffic permitting). We’re talking about Dana Point.
1. Check in to the Blue Lantern Inn, one of the fine hotels in the Four Sisters Inns collection, which is comprised of 13 boutique inns and hotels in some of the best locations in California (6 are in the Sonoma and Napa Wine Country alone). The 29 room Blue Lantern Inn rests on a stunning cliff looking down on Dana Point Harbor and features a number of rooms with breathtaking water views, however, all rooms have a fireplace, spa tub and complimentary wi-fi (note room 301 is probably the best in the house). But there’s even more to indulge upon outside your hotel room like the hearty homemade breakfast buffet, the afternoon wine, tea and hors ‘doeuvres, fresh baked cookies, massage and facial services, an impressive DVD library for in-room viewing and bicycles you can borrow to cruise around town. There are also a lot of cozy common areas where you can curl up with a good book or play one of the many boardgames available. The inn is family and pet friendly, but also surprisingly ideal for a romantic getaway. Make it a point to check out their specials, especially if you’re open to a last minute trip (if there’s a room available day of, you can get an incredible rate).
2. Boasting one of the few harbors along the So Cal coast, Dana Point offers tons of water sports and includes whale watching, boating, jet skiing, kayaking, canoeing, standup paddleboarding and surfing. We discovered Girl in the Curl, an awesome Hawaiian-vibed surf shop nearby that offers lessons and also a camp (in fact, kids come from all over the country to camp out on the beach and surf). And for the guys there’s Boy in a Barrel – totally same idea.
3. A trip to Dana Point would not be complete without a visit to the beach. But before you head off, pack a picnic at Tutor and Spunky’s,which is right next door to the Blue Lantern Inn. Voted ‘Best Sandwich’ by the locals, there are over 50 to choose from, as well as smoothies and fresh guacamole. Be sure to say ‘hi’ to the owner, Tom. Now hop in the car for a quick drive over to Salt Creek Beach (there’s a lot of parking available). Head down the many steps, past the gorgeous mansions that look down on the shores or take an elevator to the bottom and enjoy the stunning and extremely clean beach. But keep your eyes on the surf – you just might see a dolphin or two!
4. When you’ve had enough of the sun, head back to the hotel for a hot shower, followed by a 4:30 glass of wine and a lite bite. Make sure you’ve called ahead for a dinner reservation. The options are plentiful. If you’re looking for walking distance and a stunning view, then The Chart House just doors away is a no brainer. Or, it’s a quick drive over to Salt Creek Grill – if the weather’s nice, request the patio.
Sleep in Sunday morning and by the time you check out you’ll definitely be recharged — and ready to plan your next trip back.
If you happen to be visiting the area during the summer months, there are two events you must check out. The Pageant of the Masters is an annual festival held in nearby Laguna Beach since 1932. The eight week event takes place every night at 8:30 pm and consists of 90 minutes of “living pictures” (translation: real people posed in the context of famous paintings) accompanied by narration or music and is seen by more than a quarter of a million people each year – this is something you won’t find anywhere else! Also, during the summer, you can enjoy the Sawdust Festival, the most popular summer art festival in Southern California where you can shop and admire amazing works by local Laguna Beach artists and explore hands-on workshops over live music and tons of local food.