The Ranch at Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach, California
Modern, $$ ($269)
Part of the problem with being the designated trip-planner in the group is trying to appease everyone's wishes, desires, and modes of operation. The morning people versus night owls. Mountain lovers versus beach bums. Active types versus athleisure types. When part of the group wants to do absolutely everything and part of the group wants to do absolutely nothing, send them all to Southern California. At The Ranch at Laguna Beach, a boutique coastal ranch and spa in Orange County, water meets earth, canyons meet beach, golf meets surf, luxury meets eco-consciousness. And everybody wins.
At a Glance
The Vibe: Homesteading gets the OC treatment.
Standout Detail: The entire hospitality industry needs to get on track with sustainability. A special shout-out to those who lead: The Ranch installed an irrigation system utilizing reclaimed water for the resort grounds, a project expected to save over 21 million gallons of water annually in a region where droughts have increased dramatically over the years. The resort also organizes and hosts no-cost overnight camping experiences for Girl Scouts, the YMCA, and other non-profits on its property, providing gear, daytime activities, and mentorship.
Rooms: There are 97 rooms and suites (one- and two-bedroom), as well as a two-story Tree House with a master suite and guest bedroom, full kitchen, and wraparound deck.
On Site: Outdoor heated salt pool and hot tub, Ben Brown's 9-hole sustainably operated golf course (kudos), fitness center, waterfront wellness center, meeting spaces, and live music.
Food + Drink: Bare feet are welcome at the Lost Pier Cafe, which serves fresh California cuisine (big salads, fish tacos, avocado toasts) and palm-fringed views. The very pretty Harvest dining room (breakfast, lunch, dinner, private dining) centers around a handsome stone fireplace. Order an "artisan sandwich" listed on the chalkboard menu at Ben's Pantry — a casual cafe with a vintage espresso machine — and pick up a few craft brews or Cali wines for the room.
What to Do Nearby
Explore the coastal tide pools by kayak or stand-up paddleboard, hike miles of canyon trails, play a few rounds of golf on the private fairways, hit up the hidden beaches for the best surf, horseback ride in Crystal Cove State Park, or take the kids to the oceanfront Heisler Park for a romp in the lighthouse-themed play structure and a walk along the bluffs.