A uniquely serene setting and a world-class 9-hole course make this staycation a gem.
Whether you’re ready to hit the open road with the family this summer and explore life outside of OC, or you want to chill closer to home and enjoy a bit of what this local paradise has to offer, we will be presenting family-focused destinations over the next three months, tried and tested by Parenting OC’s intrepid travel crew.
Canyon seclusion meets sandy shores at The Ranch at Laguna Beach located off PCH, in South Laguna Beach. Tucked away in an idyllic setting, where deer roam and Aliso creek runs through it all, it’s 87 acres surrounded by the steep and verdant walls of Aliso and Wood canyons—this is Yosemite in miniature. The Ranch is a serene setting conducive to decompressing after the school year, but also a great base camp for Ranch activities: bocce ball, mountain biking, guided hiking, bird watching. An excellent beach with a cafe is only a quarter mile down a flat foot path. We stayed in a Creekside Studio Suite, a spacious 600-square-foot room, with a large balcony overlooking this creek of many moods, influenced by the tide. All rooms on this side of canyon come with the soothing sound of Aliso’s tumbling liquid to help you doze off.
To complete the calming process initiated upon arriving at this placid place, the recently rebranded and redesigned Sycamore Spa by Hudson offers a menu of facials, massages, wraps and scrubs. I followed my massage with a session in the infrared spa—you’ve got to try it. After a spa-induced nap, we were off to happy hour on the terrace outside Harvest restaurant. Evenings on the weekends bring live music to this patio/garden overlooking the golf course. At sunset, we found chairs with blankets on them surrounding one of several lit firepits and enjoyed craft cocktails with a bowl of delicious Brussel sprouts while listening to that night’s artist cover classic rock. The views are no less spectacular when dining inside Harvest Restaurant, which offers seasonal cuisine with local ingredients and integrated with vegetables and herbs grown in their own half-acre garden—the farm-to-table freshness is imparted to every dish we tried. We can especially recommend the delicious avocado toast for breakfast, with baby heirloom tomato, pickled red onion and an egg.
Summer at the Ranch includes a junior explorer program—a nature and gardening discovery camp for younger guests—and golf clinic specials for juniors and adults on what may be the best 9-hole course in the world (seriously—it’s nominated as such in the World Golf Awards). When playing, you will want to walk this secluded course to fully enjoy it’s natural splendor, its flora especially lush this year following the season’s heavier-than-average rains.
If you are looking for a four-diamond family staycation destination that is off the beaten path, pack up and head on out to the Ranch at Laguna Beach.
Coming next month in our Summer Family travel series: The Cottages at Newport Dunes and The Dream Inn at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz.
By Randall Tierney