Everyone needs a vacation every now and then and luckily for you, you live in Orange County. People come from all over the world to vacation here. So you don’t have to go far to get all you need out of a relaxing vacation. Here are a few staycation ideas in and around Orange County.
Top 10 Staycations
Enjoy a stay in Dana Point Harbor with a quaint outlook over the ocean and the boats docked there. Essentially everything in this entire old world style inn has an ocean view – even some of the bathtubs. If taking a bubble bath while watching the sun set over the ocean doesn’t sound like your idea of a staycation, you may be much too stressed out. Each of the 29 guestrooms at Blue Lantern Inn features a fireplace, spacious sitting area, and a large bathroom with jetted tubs. Travel & Leisure Magazine rated Blue Lantern a Top U.S. Seaside Inn.
The Descanso Gardens are a little different than the other ideas on this list because they’re not a hotel or resort all wrapped up into one staycation package. But that doesn’t make it any less worth a visit. These beautiful botanical gardens are the ultimate area for a peaceful stroll. Cherry trees blooming, iris trees, an oak woodland – there’s hours worth of gorgeous nature to stroll through. If you go during November through the end of the year, you can stroll the Enchanted Forest of Light, a unique light show experience. Explore the Boddy House and see a variety of rotating exhibits at the Sturt Haaga Gallery or take a leisurely ride on the Enchanted Railroad. Visitors can enjoy dining near the gardens at Café Descanso.
If you’ve been strolling along the pier at Newport, you may have passed the outside of this beautiful inn. It’s about time you come for a stay – if ocean views aren’t enough, the absolutely gorgeous rooms inside will be. It’s vintage and grand, with each of the eleven guestrooms full of Victorian décor that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a movie. Not to mention, the restaurant and bar are pretty good, too.
Located at Fashion Island Center, the Fashion Island Hotel in Newport Beach offers a degree of sophistication and elegance that makes every guest feel comfortable and relaxed, with guest rooms and suites that feature floor to ceiling windows that can be opened wide to let in the cool ocean breezes, and balconies for enjoying views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding city. Fashion Island Hotel is located in one of Orange County’s premier shopping destinations, with access to some of the best shopping and dining establishments in the area. On site, Fashion Island Hotel has a spa and fitness center for a relaxing and invigorating element of your stay. The Oak Grill is a contemporary restaurant with fireside dining that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also onsite is AQUA Lounge, a night club that serves drinks and small plates that is perfect for afternoon drinks or an evening out with friends. Fashion Island Hotel is also just a short trip to the coast where you can soak up the sun on the sandy Orange County beaches.
Built in 1929, this Spanish-style hotel was a favorite for stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Hotel La Casa Del Camino has 36 rooms, and boasts ten “surf suites” designed by famous local surf companies like Rip Curl, Billabong, Quiksilver, and Roxy. You can get stand up paddleboard lessons, visit the rooftop lounge, and get Sawdust Festival art classes. Lunch is served daily, and you don’t want to miss it. Then you can head to dinner at K’ya Bistro downstairs. The hotel is located just steps from the sand where visitors can enjoy big waves and stunning views of the Laguna coast.
The Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach is a luxurious hotel suited for the whole family. It’s also pet-friendly. The large hotel is like a small city with it’s own boutique style shops, a market, and several bars and dining options. Enjoy a day at the spa for much-need relaxation, or hit one of the many pools with the kids. Slyder’s Water Playground features three water slides, a large pool area, and a snack bar. Lagoon-style pools and jacuzzies for people who wish to enjoy a kid-free environment are located in a separate area. Hyatt also offers Camp Hyatt for kids ages 3-12, with camp counselors hosting arts, crafts, and other fun activities for kids while parents enjoy the spa, fitness center, or simply enjoy dinner and drinks without the kids.
The Lido House is a modern luxury destination in the middle of the rich waterfront history of Newport with 117 sophisticated guest rooms with juliettes or full balconies. There are eight exquisite suites including a 1,200 square foot Presidential Suite, with kitchens and patios. The Lido also offers five three-level private cottages located behind the hotel for the ultimate beachfront getaway experience. The Lido is centrally located on the site of the former City Hall, within walking distance to all the best shopping and dining that downtown Newport has to offer, including the Newport Beach Pier, sandy beaches, and perfect waves. The Lido House Hotel also features onsite dining, bars, and a spa for the ultimate in relaxation.
If you like the boardwalk, you’ll love Newport Beach Hotel, because it sits right in the middle. You can enjoy the true Newport Experience, and get an oceanfront room. It’s small and quaint, with just 15 guestrooms. And it’s quite literally right on the beach – just one parking lot away from the shore. Many rooms feature a jetted tub and fireplace for the ultimate in relaxation. Newport Beach Hotel offers guests complimentary use of the beach toys and bicycles so everyone can get out and enjoy the sun and sand in style.
When you stay at the Pelican Hill Resort, you’ll be staying in the lap of luxury. This hotel hosts the largest circular pool in the world, and displays authentic artwork throughout. You can choose from three restaurants on the property, all of which use locally grown ingredients, so you can really soak in the culture. When you’re not soaking in that pool, that is. The resort also has a retreat for children, Camp Pelican. Visitors can enjoy the over 500 acres of the resort, or venture down to Crystal Cove Beach to explore the tide pools, surf or kayak in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, or just enjoy the sand and sea. There’s something for everyone at the luxurious Pelican Hill.
If surfing is your idea of a good time, you’ll love the vibe of this hotel. Everything down to the smallest details in the drapery matches the beach vibe. You even get beach butler service when you go down to the beach, which is steps away, so you can get food delivered to you. Pets are also welcome, and the dog beach is located about a mile away. Just a short walk away from the iconic Huntington Beach Pier, Shorebreak Hotel is surrounded by numerous options for drinks, dining, and shopping. Soak up the sun in Surf City and enjoy the nightlife in Downtown Huntington Beach for an almost endless summer.
This is a Hilton Hotel, and you’ll feel like you’re on Spring Break when you visit. You’ll be steps away from the ocean, but you’ll never want to leave the pool. Order dinner and drinks from the poolside bar or enjoy the new rooftop bar for stunning views of the ocean. Hilton is also partnered up with Wahoos, and can bring you fresh tacos if you do decide to wander down to the beach. They also put on a fire dancing show at the pool. Enjoy a beach bonfire, or a stroll to nearby Pacific City, a new shopping and dining destination just steps from the sand.
Take a trip to the Fullerton Arboretum and enjoy 26 acres of sprawling gardens, fruit trees, and historical buildings. Stroll through a redwood grove with a meandering stream or head out for a walk around the lake. Bring a picnic for a relaxing day in nature. You can also check out their calendar of events to see when they do yoga class or free nature tours. They also do art classes, and you can get a membership there if you decide you want to go back for more than just a daycation.
This one’s a bit of a drive, and like some of the others, it’s not a hotel. But the Getty Center is just over an hours drive away – sometimes less than that, depending on the traffic. And it’s free, except for a $15 parking fee. Stay all day and look at the art, eat at the café, and stroll the gardens. Even the tram ride up to the center is picturesque. Visitors will enjoy art and artifacts including Greek and Roman sculpture, works by Rembrandt, and items from the personal collection of the French Queen, Marie-Antoinette. The Getty offers public tours and demonstrations and offers free family activities.
What is a Staycation?
A staycation is where one takes a vacation within a close driving distance of their home. A staycation is also known as a daycation, nearstay, nearcation, or holistay (“holiday” and “stay”).
- More time to relax – Traveling to a destination takes time that takes away from relaxation. Add more time and hours with a staycation.
- Save Money – Traveling doesn’t just take time but it also costs money. Airfare, gas, hotel and airport parking all adds up quickly.
- Reduce Stresses – Jet lag, long drives, traffic, delayed/cancelled flights, long drives and much more can go wrong while traveling.
- No Vacation Time Needed – Since no travel is needed you can have a one or two day vacation without taking any time off.
- Easier to Plan and Get Right – Researching a vacation can be tough and even then vacations can wind up on the disapointing side. With a staycation you already know the area, hotel and how to make it a fantastic vacation.
- Stay Close to the Kids – Many parents are anxious about leaving their kids. With a staycation parents can stay close by knowing that if they need to they can get back to them quickly, they can.
- Include and Don’t Include Your Kids – You can mix up the vacation by having the kids there part time. Bring the kids during the day for some fun pool time and then drop them off at the grandparents for an overnight stay. The kids have a fun day and the parents get a much needed date night and overnight stay. Everybody wins.
Can’t stay overnight? Find out how to get a hotel day pass for access to the resort pools and much more.
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.