The Petty family of 5 heads to Cali!
Planning family vacations is stressful when you have kids, let alone 3 kids ages 5 and under! This year we decided to head to California for the ultimate beach vacation at the beach.
Part of our family destination in California this year (we are Disneyland enthusiasts), was spent at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Perched atop a seaside bluff, surrounded by panoramic views of the Pacific and miles of sandy beach, this resort offers plenty of activities for the kids while also giving parents an opportunity to unwind in their own private paradise.
Getting started, we had a non-stop (3.5-hour) flight from Hobby to Orange County Airport. This was our very first flight with all three kids (ages 5, 3, and 1) and surprisingly it went well! I packed just enough kid snacks and just enough activities to keep everyone happily entertained.
Once we landed in sunny California, we rented a car, stopped in Newport Beach for lunch on the water, and then traveled about 30 minutes down the coast through Laguna Beach before arriving at The Ritz.
I walked into the stunning lobby, quickly got us all checked in, and immediately knew this vacation was going to be completely unforgettable. The staff and the level of service provided were unlike no other. They quickly gave me a map noting all the perfect spots on the property that we could enjoy with our littles. They had it all! From beach and pool time fun to family-friendly eco-adventures like whale watching and sea-hiking, our crew couldn’t wait to get started!
The first stop – the beach
We dashed to our room to drop everything off and stood on our private terrace in complete amazement. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe the view. As much as I wanted to relax on that balcony with a bottle of wine and just stare at this once-in-a-lifetime view of the Pacific, we decided it was time to go have a little beach fun.
It’s a short walk from the resort to Salt Creek Beach, and the resort offers a complimentary golf cart service which was perfect for our little tots. I didn’t need to pack much for the beach either, because the beach butler service was amazing providing beach toys, sunscreen, loungers, food options, and of course some mommy juice! We spent the next few hours playing in the gorgeous white sand, collecting unique seashells and rocks to add to our family’s vacation collection, and walking along the shoreline.
On our way back to the room, we took a stroll to check out other areas of the property. The kids and I loved the resort’s herb garden which was full of organic produce used in all their restaurant’s cuisines. We passed tennis & basketball courts, tons of community green areas to play frisbee and football on, and finally stopped to hang out at the playground area with ping pong tables.
The kids were wiped out for the day, so we ended up going back to the room and ordering room service. They were ecstatic to find out we had a movie night set up for them complete with an assortment of popcorn and candy! (The resort also has a library of children’s movies available at the front desk.)
After the kids crashed early, the hubby and I relaxed on our balcony with a bottle of wine just in time to savor the last few minutes of the gorgeous sunset. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day of our beach vacation.
The next morning, we had an early date with the hotel’s eco-adventure team to go whale watching. While we were a bit disappointed because we didn’t see any whales (January through April is the best time to see them before they start heading to Alaska), our family still enjoyed a beautiful day on the crystalline Pacific waters catching glimpses of other marine wildlife like dolphins, sea lions, and pelicans. The kids also got an in-depth educational experience from our expert naturalist who talked to us about the different types of whales, their migration patterns, and other interesting facts.
After our whale-watching excursion at Dana Point Harbor (another great area for more exploring, shopping, and dining), we came back to the resort and spent the rest of the day at one of the hotel’s two expansive pools.
The delicious poolside bites and drinks were exactly what we needed. P.S. – everything we ate at the resort during our stay was spectacular!!
We had so many special moments at this stunning property and I cannot wait to plan our next trip back. With all the beautiful surroundings, gorgeous views, and amazing amenities, the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel was the perfect getaway for our family to relax and enjoy ocean life at its best.
Know before you go on beach vacation
- The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is located in Southern California halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego
- It’s only 45 minutes from Disneyland making this resort the perfect destination to unwind before or after your non-stop theme park adventure.
- The resort offers something for everyone! They have exciting eco-adventures like whale watching, seaside hiking, boogie boarding, surfing lessons, and local tidepool exploration. You can also take garden tours followed by a cooking class, try paddle boarding or kayaking, go on an e-bike tour, and more. There’s also yoga on the beach, a fitness center that overlooks the ocean, plus a fabulous spa for mom!
- Delicious dining options include a rooftop lounge (180BLU), a Pan-Latin restaurant (RAYA), a steakhouse (ENOSTEAK), plus a more casual marketplace.